On holiday in Tuscany this summer, I was lucky enough to be staying at a hotel on a vineyard. It was difficult not to be moved as I relaxed on my private terrace overlooking the vineyard which had yielded the wine in my glass. Chianti in Castelina is the most beautiful region in Italy I have been to on my travels in Italy to date. The Tuscan landscapes planted with vineyards and olive groves, interspersed with small villages is breath taking and is even more beautiful than the pictures of Tuscany I had seen prior to my holiday.

Casafrassi hotel is a beautiful villa in Chianti in Castelina. The main house was built in 1825 while the buildings which house the restaurant and accommodation outside of the main house date back to the year 1200. It is owned and managed by three generations of the same family and is the epitome of charm. I found it to be the most professionally managed, yet relaxed hotel I have had the pleasure of staying at. It is classified as an agriturismo, but its 4-star accommodation is a long way from the traditional ‘farm-stay’ meaning of agriturismo.

Casafrassi Chianti Classico 2017 was the first wine I tasted during the holiday and it was an instant hit. The neck of the bottle bore the black cockerel, which I learnt dates to 1384. It is a symbol of the Chianti region and a designated marker of specific ‘Chianti Classico’ regulations. More than one wine producer advised that it was a mark of quality. Casafrassi Chianti Classico 2017 was produced from 100% sangiovese grapes grown next to the hotel in vineyards owned by the family, where thirty years ago they had planted the vines. Only half of the volume of the wine was housed in French oak so as to retain the sangiovese nose, colour and character of the Chianti region. In the glass, the colour was dark garnet with medium intensity. It did not have much of a nose at first but within 30 minutes the nose was a fruity mix of red berry fruit. Not an overpowering nose but one of subtlety. On the palate it did not disappoint. It was smooth with the characteristic taste of cherries. Low tannin and completely moreish with a touch of oak on the short length. In the 13th century restaurant, L’Osteria, overlooking olive groves and vineyards. I enjoyed the wine with a starter of mozzarella, tomatoes, anchovies and fried bread. The anchovies brought out further the cherry in the wine and the combination of fresh ingredients with fried bread was a new and exciting one for me.

Mozzarella, tomatoes, anchovies and fried bread.

I think that much of wine and its appeal can be a psychological affair and I wondered whether the wine would be as delicious if drank away from the beautiful views of lush, green rolling Italian hills and beautiful sunsets. Back home in Bournemouth, my husband, who had taken a cooking lesson organised by the hotel, prepared bruschetta. (During the lesson 3 bottles of wine were opened and sampled along with each course cooked. He bought the remains from each bottle back to the hotel for me to sample and enjoy. If ever you go to Casafrassi Hotel, he would recommend the cooking lesson). I paired Casafrassi Chianti Classico 2017 with bruschetta prepared by rubbing a garlic clove over slices of ciabatta , drizzling olive oil over them and toasting them on a griddle. The tomatoes were home grown and super-sweet and matched the wine perfectly. I can confirm that the delicious Casafrassi Chianti Classico 2017 had travelled well and was as juicy, succulent and moreish as when drank in Tuscany.

I will be writing about more delicious wine and food combinations from my Tuscan experience in the coming months, including a 2008 Chianti Classico Reserva, a Super Tuscan and the Italian dessert wines, Vin Santo.