My draw to the tiny hamlet of Panzano was two-fold…. one was to meet Dario Cecchini, the touted celebrity butcher featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations show, and revered by travel guru Rick Steves. And, also to explore the many boutique wineries hidden off the SR222, the Chianti Wine Trail. As a point of reference, Panzano lies a few kilometers south of Greve, about 45 minutes from Firenze (Florence).
I visited over Pasqua (Easter) weekend and the weather was cool and misty, with scattered showers. Not ideal, but with umbrella in hand, I made the best of it. I enjoyed sitting in the village bakery with a cappuccino in hand, watching the local women scurry around town preparing for the big Pasqua family dinner. Shop windows were lavishly decorated with giant chocolate eggs with hidden toys inside, all festively wrapped with pastel ribbons.
Having researched my own “wine trail” far in advance of my visit, I sought out Villa Cafaggio on the outskirts of Panzano. Winding down some narrow bucolic country roads, I missed a few turns and had to backtrack to find the unmarked road, Via San Martino, which is actually in Cecione. Bring a good GPS and the Black Rooster map to find these jewels! But no worries, after passing many stone farmhouses and vineyards, the one lane road finally ends at Villa Cafaggio.
As with all wineries in Tuscany, it is best to call ahead for wine tastings and for cellar tours. Here at Villa Cafaggio, the wine tastings are complimentary with the hopes that you buy a bottle or two. Non problemo!
Villa Cafaggio was documented as a wine estate as early as 1498. Set in Conco d’Oro of Panzano in Chianti, this particular area is blessed with a perfect micro-climate, with high altitude, special soil and a majority of South facing vineyards. Sangiovese is planted on over 85% of the estate’s 100 acres, with the remaining vineyards planted in Cabernet Sauvignon –hence the superb Super Tuscan wines!
Villa Cafaggio‘s 2010 Chianti Classico is refined, with spicy cloves on the nose and the 2008 Chianti Classico Riserva is molto bene, (very good) intense in color and bursting with morello cherry flavor. I was especially fond of the 2005 San Martino, considered a Super Tuscan with a variety of Sangiovese clones and Cabernet Sauvignon, but the Cortaccio, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, aged for three years before release, was my favorite, a real treat in the land of Chianti! www.villacafaggio.it