La Azienda Agricola Il Palagio, en Panzano Chianti, presume de agricultura totalmente y de estar llevada durante generaciones por gente del pueblo.
Pedro and I set off through the Tuscan countryside after an epic line at the rental car place in Florence. We had spent over an hour waiting and were happy to finally be out on the road. Luckily, we had something to look forward to that afternoon: we were going to have a private tour of Il Palagio vineyards in Panzano. We were meeting a woman called Gioia in town at the wine shop and she would take us to the vineyard. Thankfully, the shop was easy to find and our host arrived just seconds after we did. Soon we were off down a country road with bumps and turns, ready to experience all that we’d been promised about winemaking in Chianti.
We parked our rental car in the lot next to a huge medieval stone house in the middle of the fields just outside Panzano. This wasn’t just any house, though. The building dates back to 1100 and it has also been used as a monastery. Today it belongs to Gioia’s sister-in-law, Monia. Her family bought the property and restored the house, but it wasn’t until Monia and Gioia’s brother began dating that they realized the connection. This was also the house where Gioia’s grandfather was born. He worked on the farm for the first 20 years of his life, and now…generations later, it’s all in the family again. This story only made me love the place more!
We toured the grounds of the home turned rural inn with perfect views of the Tuscan hills, large expanses of vineyards and gardens, and as we did Gioia filled in the missing pieces of the story. The land where the grapes were growing, she explained was full of a special kind of stone (galestro). This is good for the plants because they become stronger and it gives the wine a very earthy flavor. They also take care to cut the vines each year so that the grapes they harvest come from a new vine. The idea is that there is a fresh connection to the earth.
The Il Palagio vineyards have two different plots of land in the “Golden Valley” with different environments. One is more dry and the other is humid. This allows them to grow two different kinds of grapes: the Sangiovese grape from Chianti and the Merlot. They produce around 25,000 bottles a year and in Panzano, 28 different vineyards have banded together to form an association of organic vineyards. Gioia is quick to point out that Panzano was the first ecodistrict in all of Europe (although now there are more).
Down in the cellars we learn that Il Palagio vineyards use bigger barrels that are made in Italy rather than the smaller French style barrels to age the wine. This means that you will taste more of the flavor of the grapes, rather than the wood from the barrel. “This is the type of barrel our grandparents would have used,” Gioia tells us. We also saw some smaller barrels with a bit of cement to seal them. “That’s vinsanto,” Gioia explains, it’s a sweet wine that we have for dessert, and it’s also the kind of wine used for holy communion.
Finally it is time for us to taste some of the wines. We entered the tasting room, escaping the hot July sun and found a seat at the long wooden table. As she pulls out the different wines we will be trying Goia tells us, “This is where we have Christmas celebrations now that my brother and sister-in-law are married. The first time my grandfather came back to the farm after having been away for so many years there were tears in his eyes. That’s part of why I like working here so much, I feel like it’s part of my family history.”
We tasted several different wines as we chatted about the winery. We started with the Ignobile IGT, which is not aged at all. It is made with 100% Sangiovese grapes and the idea is that it’s an everyday table wine. Pedro thought it would make a good tinto de verano, and I kind of agree. As we tasted the first wine, Gioia was busy slicing some pecorino cheese from the area and serving up some crouton-like crackers that made the perfect late afternoon snack.
Next, we tried the Chianti Classico, which was aged for 1 year in the barrel. This wine pairs well with Tuscan dishes including soups, cheeses, and meats. My favorite, however, was the Chianti Classico Riserva. This wine spends two years in the barrel and the year we tried was made with 100% Sangiovese grapes. Some years they add 5% Merlot into the mix. This is a wine for a special dinner, to be paired with strong flavors such as strong cheeses or game meats. The last wine we tried was the Torgentile IGT which is made with a mix of half Sangiovese and half Merlot grapes.
As the afternoon was coming to an end, Pedro asked Gioia the million dollar question: There are a lot of vineyards in the Chianti region (and that’s an understatement), why would you tell people to visit Il Palagio. Her answer won us over. “Because this is a family run vineyard by local people. We have been in Panzano for generations, and while you don’t have to make good wine if you come from Panzano, we think it is an extra value. We are trying to keep the traditions alive, and we are so connected to the land. I mean, my grandfather was born in the tower of this house.”
Between the fantastic tour, lovely wines, and delicious local cheese, we had a wonderful afternoon visiting the Il Palagio vineyards in Panzano. We only wished we knew about the inn sooner, as we would have loved to spend a day there, disconnected and looking out from the pool across the Tuscan landscape. We ruskommend Il Palagio vineyards with 5 boquerones. It is truly the perfect place to make wine, and as Gioia said, it’s a family run business. What more can you ask for? Saluti!
Information about Azienda Agricola Il Palagio
Ruskommendation for Azienda Agricola Il Palagio: 5 boquerones
- Address: Via Case Sparse, 38, 50020 Panzano In Chianti FI, Italy
- Telephone: +39 338 399 7004
- Average price per person: $10
- Hours: (Mon-Sun) 8:30am-7:00pm
- Official Website of Azienda Agricola Il Palagio