The Bolgheri wine region.
Bolgheri DOC lies within the Maremma, once a sizzling mosquito infested area of swamp lying between low hills and the sea, it features as part of the inferno in Dante’s Divine Comedy. Thankfully the marsh land has long since been drained and the area is now a welcoming patchwork of farmland, vineyards & olive groves accentuated here & there by picturesque rows of cypress trees.
Bolgheri wine region runs north south bounded by hills to the east and a line parallel to the coast (largely defined by the motorway) to the west. There are four small towns in the region. To the north-east is the village of Bolgheri itself at the foot of the wooded hills. To the north west is Marina di Bibbona a coastal resort & further down the coast, is Marina di Castagneto Carducci. Finally, the ancient hill town of Castagneto Carducci itself makes up the quartet.
Accommodation is available in all four of these towns but if you want to be in the heart of the wine action as we did there are a number of wineries that offer accommodation and a few agritourismo too. We stayed at: Relais Felciaino which has three or four family /twin rooms opening onto the garden and does a nice al fresco breakfast under a canopy with views of the Tenuta San Guido’s castle on the hill.
The location is right on the wine route ‘La Strada del Vino’ as it passes through Bolgheri
Tenuta Ornellaia & Chiappini, are next door, Le Machiolle is opposite & Tenuta Guado a short way down the road & the fabulous restaurant Osteria Magna is also within walking distance.
Other options include apartments in the vineyards of Azienda Agricola Giovanni Chiappini, & several other agritourismo in the area.
If you like meat, then look no further than Osteria Magona. Chef Omar Barsacchi serves a selection of beef by Dario Cecchini , Panzano’s famous butcher. On the T bone or a cheek, the meet is amazing.
The wine list is comprehensive and, although most of it will require re-mortgaging, there are actually some delicious gems such as Le Macchiole Bolgheri Rosso 2015 and, one of the waiter’s recommendations, Sondraia Bolgheri Superiore 2013 by Poggio al Tesoro.
The find of the trip though was Enoteca Tognoni in the village of Bolgheri itself. Imagine crossing your favourite wine merchant with a brilliant trattoria and you get Enoteca Tognoni. Walls to the left and right are lined with shelves of Tuscan wines to browse and between customers sit at long tables. Choose your bottle, scan the menu and settle in.
The wines are priced very fairly and you pay the same when you sit down for lunch as you would to take out. Fancy tasting through some of the local icons with your meal then check out the enomatic wine machines on the bar at the back serving both tasting portions and drinking measures.
So good we come back for lunch two days running!
For sea food we visited Restaurant La Pineta right on the beach where chef Luciano Zazzeri serves Michelin-starred seafood. The wine list is a ridiculous tome that is so big an heavy it comes to you on its own side table but we did find some bottles of Grattamacco Bolgheri Vermentino 2015 which were vibrant and delicious and a couple of bottles of Ca Marcanda Magari. The food was very good but not all the dishes were outstanding & we found the service a little un-attentive.
The resorts on the coast feel quite separate to the wine country but are so close that an evening dip looking out towards Corsica can easily be worked into your program.
Lots of flights to Pisa which is less than an hour’s drive away.