Four of the Best Tuscan Vineyards - On an Electric Bike
Here at Surged, we get bored quickly with “normal”. We love nothing more than going against the grain, so we decided to go to four of Montepulciano’s smallest vineyards… on electric bikes. We didn’t want any cars or gigantic commercial vineyards you could buy at a supermarket chain, so it was just us, a couple of supercharged bikes zipping around the Tuscan countryside in search of the most unique wines the region has to offer. If there’s a better way to visit an area, we’d love to know.
Tuscany is full of hilltop villages, and Montepulciano is no exception. In fact, the prefix monte means hill in Italian. Upon arriving, we walked through the imposing doors of the walls surrounding the city and followed the road up all the way to the main piazza which is home to the city hall, the main church and quaint bars and cafes full of people chatting away over cappuccinos and cornetti (that’s Italian for croissant).
URBAN BIKERY is situated right on the corner of this picturesque square and specializes in cycle travel with their fleet of electric “fat bikes” - like mountain bikes, but with fatter tires… sort of like a motorized 2 wheeled monster trucks. Inside, the english-speaking staff give great tips on where to go and introduce you to their app, which is one of the most intuitive gps systems we’ve ever used. The store itself displays urban-chic products in a large stone-walled room with a vaulted ceiling which gives the whole place the roomy, yet cosy rustic feel so characteristic of Tuscany.
Once on the road, you just have to enjoy the view, feel the warm Tuscan sun on your face and when the road gets steep, let the electric motor kick in to make you feel (almost) like a pro cyclist.
Our first stop was at Salcheto, where our host Sara treated us to a bit of the history of vineyard and their growing and production techniques. While sipping wine with a view of Montepulciano in the background, Sara explained that at Salcheto, they firmly believe in sustainable production techniques. Nothing goes to waste in their process which she described as “circular growing”, or rather that every product has a use to continue the growing of these fantastic wines. They even go so far as to cover the outside of the wine cellar with a vertical garden to help with insulation while contributing to a healthy earth.
2. CROCE DI FEBO
Our goal in going to the region was to expose ourselves to a smaller, more authentic Tuscany far from the masses of Florence and massive wine labels. Croce di Febo owner Maurizio took us to a Tuscany that few get to experience. Ever the philosopher, Maurizio explained that the three main ingredients in his wine are “soil, weather, and man” and that each year those variables change. The soil, sculpted by the prehistoric sea and beaches that covered the region in the prehistoric era, changes relatively little year by year compared with the other two factors- man and weather. Each year the weather changes as do Maurizio’s almost artistic interpretation of how he should produce the wine in those conditions. This, he says, makes him like a chef in a restaurant that has different ingredients every day. Every year, his wine is unique and recognizable.
Take a trip with us in the video below:
If you make the journey to Tuscany, you will find that for most, quality is far more important than quantity. Tradition runs deep here and Boscarelli is the embodiment of that. Of the four, Boscarelli is the most traditional vineyard we saw. Make no mistake, it is still small and family run, but certainly has a classic vineyard vibe to it. Boscarelli’s tour, run by Nicolò, showed us where and how each batch of wine is made describing how the vineyard gets the most out of its small productions all the way from fermentation to corking techniques. Like many, Nicolò speaks about the wine in human terms, describing each barrel as if it had a soul. Seeing the passion behind the work firsthand, it's easy to see why.
Nestled between hills on all sides, the picturesque property of Il Molinaccio is the stuff of a Tuscan dream. Standing in the sun kissed yard, owner Alessandro greets us in front of a small stone house and wine cellar. As he takes us through the valley to his vineyards, he stops to touch the soil explaining that this is the base for everything - the soil and the connection to Mother Nature. This is the base on which he makes his wines. He speaks of his wine as having a soul, a sort of being with which the wine makers must be in constant conversation in order to nurture a result befitting of the earth that nurtures the vines. Alessandro is very practical and hands on in his explanation of the process. To illustrate the final step in the nurturing process, we were treated to two wines of different ages, one straight from the barrel, the other bottled. He asked us, what is the difference? Guessing incorrectly, we tried weather, grapes, barrels. With a wry smile he tells us, “age”. Time, patience, a respect for the process and your surroundings will give you, as he says, “a wine you would marry”.
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