Siena’s blogger has just returned to Texas from a trip to Italy where he spent two days touring vineyards in Tuscany and tasting wines at some of the region’s top estates.

His travels took him to Panzano in Chianti, in the heart of the Chianti Classico district (above).

The tiny village of Panzano is just one of the five historic hamlets where the Sangiovese-based wines of Chianti originated. Today, Chianti Classico — the top tier of Chianti wines — can only be produced in those five townships.

When you visit these vineyards, he says, you really begin to understand what makes the wines so special.

The soil is extremely rocky. It’s not great for growing other crops but it’s ideal for growing Sangiovese grapes. Because the soil is rocky, it doesn’t retain water. As a result, the roots of the grapes need to dig deep into the earth to find the water table. That gives them “vigor,” as they say in the wine trade. And the resulting fruit will be richer in flavor.

There are hills everywhere you look. As the great Latin poet Virgil once wrote, Bacchus loves hills. And he was right: Hills gives the vines more balanced exposure to the sun and the rolling landscape delivers gentle breezes that help to keep the grapes dry and healthy before they are harvested.

And the land is pristine. To travel along Chianti’s winding roads is to journey back into the past, to a time when people lived off the land, ate the foods they grew themselves, and drank the wine that they aged in their own cellars.

Tuscany and Chianti continue to inspire Chef Harvey (who lived and worked in Tuscany after completing his culinary studies in northern Italy). They are a model for his approach to cooking and a roadmap for the classic Tuscan dishes he serves.

We hope you’ll visit us soon to discover a little slice of Tuscany in Austin, Texas at Siena Ristorante Toscana.

Please call (512) 349-7667 to reserve.

Click here for Chef Harvey’s current menus.

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