Wine Tour & Wine Tasting just outside of the Siena city walls
For curious minds, connoisseurs or those simply looking to find meaning in the bottom of the barrique, the wine tour by the La Lastra Organic Farm provides an intriguing foundation for exploring the “why & how” of a quality Chianti wine.
Taking you on a visit of their vineyards, cantina and finally their tasting room with a combination of 4 wines and a home cooked meal Christian Betti and his sister Nadia, the owners, suggest an alternative to the “same ol’wine tasting” with a new type of educational experience that will have you appreciating your next sip of wine in a whole different way.
The family run farm Agriturismo Marciano, where the tour takes place, is located on a hillside in the "Chianti colline senesi", just a short walk from the heart of Siena and the Piazza del Campo. The organic vineyards and olive groves overlook the countryside towards the south of Tuscany, in the very same direction that the pilgrims in the medieval times would have looked as they marched along the via Francigena towards Roma.
The story of the founding of this farm, is similar to that of the pilgrims looking to touch base with their roots, searching for their origins. Taking their “book learning” from the university, this group of four formed a partnership with the implicit intent to go back to the land and revive the traditions and healthy farming practises that would care for and restore the Earth.
The Ultimate Siena Wine Experience
Ideal for those who:
- are curious about wine production
- are interesting in organic farming
- are looking for genuine flavors
- are staying or visiting Siena without a car
- are searching for answers on how to apply a natural philosophy to everyday living, eating & drinking
- AND of course for those who like good wine
Expert Knowledge & Great Flavor
The results? Award winning wine, fragrant olive oil and fruits and vegetables that sing in your mouth; flavors that we have forgotten even existed with the onslaught of modern technology, fertilizers, and farming practices that prize quantity and good looks over tastiness and genuineness.
The owners and co-founders of La Lastra Winery and the bed & breakfast and farm at Agriturismo Marciano, prefer to introduce their products from the ground up, bringing the “taster” closer to the intricate process of creating all this deliciousness — and perhaps even helping safeguard the future of wine and agriculture.
This approach creates a deep bond between you and the wine because it lays a foundation with which to evaluate and appreciate the process and the flavor, no matter your level of wine knowledge.
Three Steps in Your Wine Tasting
The tour starts with an introduction to the terroir, a French term that literally translates to dirt, or soil. It is one of the absolute basics of wine; terroir is how a climate, soil and land formation affect the taste and quality of a wine. With a minimum of two persons it is possible to reserve your space on the next tour; Christian and his colleagues prefer to keep the groups small, not exceeding 16 persons because it gives them the possibility to get to know their guests and share their “passion”.
Christian, with his slight Italian accent, takes you out into the field — which is not too far from the main farmhouse — and gives you a step by step explanation of how the terroir, the plants, the agronomer and Mother Nature work to produce wine. And not just any type of wine, but a wine that respects its surroundings thus creating an unforgettable nector for the body.
Siena Wine Experience in a Glance:
Number Persons: 2 - 16
Length: 3 hours (11:30 am - 2:30 pm
Cost: 65€ per person
Included: wine tasting (1 white & 3 red wines) & light lunch
Family Run Estate & Antique Cantina
Another hour is spent in the wine cellar of the farm, a beautiful brick building which houses their stainless steel tanks and French oak barriques. It is here that you will be introduced into the biology of wine and the unassuming protagonists of the fermentations: yeast and bacteria. It may not be necessary to know all of this before you take that first sip, but for those who are just a tad bit curious, Christian is an untiring font of information explaining the science experiment which is inherent in each harvest.
The information that is provided during the first part of the tour is important because it becomes the key with which you can read the transformation of the grape juice into the “body”, “structure” and “color” of the wine. When you reserve your spot on the next tour, you can also let them know if there is a specific wine in their production that you would like to taste. I personally found the combination they selected to provide full range of their products; my tour included their Vernaccia from the La Lastra vineyards in San Gimignano, their exclusive 100% Canaiolo grape wine (a rarity in Tuscany), an organic Chianti wine and a Riserva Chianti. Nice to know they can help you ship all of this home safely and economically.
The last step of the wine tour is savoring the goodness. When you start the tour, you might only be focusing on this last phase, but when you sit down in their newly decorated wine tasting room and they pour that first glass of Vernaccia, the details will start to float back to you. You will feel as if you are fully involved in the tasting of the wine as opposed to just another glass/another bottle.
That first inhalation of flavor, the first glance at the color and the first small mouthful to test the tannins will all come together with your education in the field.
Your Stomach & Your Emotions
Is it necessary to know all this to enjoy a glass of wine? Absolutely not. In fact, while in the tasting room Christian will not administer a test to see how much you remember from the educational part of the tour. ( I promise! ) Much to the contrary, he steps out of his "teacher mode" as a computer database of interesting tidbits and encourages his guest to taste with the heart.
After all the knowledge we have about wine tasting, sometimes you need to rely on the “effetto emotivo”, and taste with your emotions. Your stomach is your second heart, and you should listen to the emotions that it calls forth. Christian Betti
And then Everything Comes Together
With the tasting of each of the four wines you can observe not only the color, the perfume, and the flavor but you are encouraged to also consider your emotional state. “Lo stato dell’anima” — which means how you feel after you sip the wine. It is personal, and there is no right or wrong answer. But I was warned, it isn’t easy, often we don’t remember how to identify emotions when we are eating and drinking. So, I took this to mean we might need to do a lot of practicing!
But I think my memory was pretty spot on, because I was totally content after our light lunch of Tuscan dishes. Nadia and her chef explained the origins of the ingredients, almost down to the name of the bee who provided the yummy chestnut honey which you can lather onto the aged Pecorino cheese. Their mantra is not just respecting the Earth and the natural growing cycles for wine and oil but also for all the food they consume and you will see for yourself how much difference organic flavor can add to a dish.
The lesson didn’t stop with the official tasting, rather it continued during the meal. Nadia took the time to explain why each one of the dishes was paired with the selected wines. At the end, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to savor their “passito” with the mouthwatering chocolate cake and homemade orange and lemon marmalade. Nadia conceded that the chocolate cake was absolutely fantastic, but her favorite combination: the passito dessert wine with aged pecorino cheese.
A Day that will Transform Your Idea of Wine
by giving you tools that will stay with you always
During the three hour long tour, I found that the gentle and natural progression from one area of the farm to another was at an easy rhythm to follow. The amount of walking is limited, though I am sure if I had encouraged Christian just a bit we would have gone further into the vineyards. The panoramic position that he chose to start the introduction was a great photo opportunity of a landscape that is typically Tuscan and virtually uncontaminated from modern constructions. The interior setting of the cantina, the wine tasting room and the dining area combines tradition, local woods,stone & brick with a modern yet unintrusive design that creates an atmosphere that invites you to relax.
I went home not just with a case of select wines that I am looking forward to sharing with my friends but I also left the farm with a new conviction to respect the Earth, its growing cycles and nourish it when possible with pure goodness. In the end, Christian, Nadia and the entire group, were enthusiastic reminders that sometimes to go forward, we need to remember where we came from and to not lose track of those wholesome, genuine flavors like that of their organic wines, extra virgin olive oil and fresh produce.