Country Roads: Chianti pours forth from Fonterutoli | ©Tom Palladio Images

After catching some rays under the Tuscan sun around Cortona, our band of merry media — VIP guests on an abbreviated version of one of Insight Vacations‘ (Insight) Country Roads of Italy itineraries — rolls further into Tuscany, over scenic hills and dales, into the middle of Chianti wine country: Fonterutoli.

Roll the “R” and repeat after me: fohn-tay-ROO-toh-lee. Bravo!

It is here, where Florence’s provincial border ends and Siena’s begins, that a noble Tuscan family planted roots way back in 1435 and began to grow superlative Sangiovese grape on the rolling hills surrounding its picture-postcard perfect castle-village that would define a brand known the world over: Marchesi Mazzei Castello di Fonterutoli.

Today, we’re going to see firsthand the 21st century version of this Renaissance-era bloodline’s heritage of making extraordinary Chianti Classico wines.

Country Roads: Chianti pours forth from Fonterutoli | ©Tom Palladio Images

Shorthand at the ready and camera lenses locked in place, we go inside the epicenter of the brand that begins in a mini art museum-like foyer and ends alongside a dark, tucked away grotto: Mazzei’s sprawling, 10,000 square meter, state-of-the-art winery. Impressively pristine, the mammoth cantina produces the award-winning varietals and blends grown from the vines that drape the nearby terroirs, along with other labels from the family’s emerging wine zones in southwestern Tuscany and on the island of Sicily.

Country Roads: Chianti pours forth from Fonterutoli | ©Tom Palladio Images

Leonardo, the estate’s director of public relations, guides us through the plant, explaining in great detail all of the steps involved in getting the Mazzei brand from the vineyard to your glass: delivery chutes, stainless steel storage and blending tanks, bottling and labeling, and the cavernous underground cellar — complimented by the sounds of flowing water inside a grotto — where an army of oak barriques (barrels) envelops all of that luscious vino rosso under the lowest of light until its aged to perfection.

Back above ground, Belinda, our tour director/concierge/storyteller, ushers us back on the motorcoach and announces to the peanut gallery that we’re going to be the guests of Dr. (Marquis) Francesco Mazzei at the family’s upscale Osteria di Fonterutoli for a special wine tasting-culinary lunch, followed by a stroll around Castello di Fonterutoli.

Take Me along, Country Roads | ©Tom Palladio ImagesAll together now: Siiiiiiiiiiiii!

For complete information on Insight Vacations’ 12 Italian premium and luxury-escorted, business-class motorcoach itineraries — where you’ll be treated with a host of “signature” moments, like wine tastings and fine dining — and over 100 journeys throughout Europe just click HERE, or call toll free (888) 680-1241, or contact your travel agent.

I’ll see you at the osteria (tavern) in just a few minutes. If I get there first, I’ll save you a seat.

Ciao for now.

©The Palladian Traveler

Borsalino w/ props SMALL | ©Tom Palladio Images

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Written by The Palladian Traveler

Tom traded his hometown St. Louis Cardinals' baseball cap in the United States for a Borsalino and he now hangs his "capello" in the Puglia region of southeastern Italy. A veteran print and broadcast journalist, with well-worn passports that have got him into and out of 50 countries and counting, Tom fell in love with the "Bel Paese" years ago. As he notes, "I'm inspired by the beauty I find in all things that are very, very old, and reliving history, or at least meandering along cobblestone streets that were laid down over a thousand years ago and just looking up and marveling at what occupies the space still today, really gets my 'Vespa' running." Tom has a good eye behind the lens and is a graphic storyteller, but he'll let you decide as he keeps his camera batteries fully charged and the posts flowing from his creative hideaway in the hills overlooking Ostuni. You can also follow his dispatches along the cobblestone via TravelingBoy.com.

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