Supertuscan was the name invented by journalists in the English-speaking world to give a precise identity to the fine wines (primarily Sassicaia) produced in this area of Tuscany given the lack of DOC at the time. The name is still widely used today, despite the subsequent introduction of the Bolgheri DOC appellation, to pinpoint the high quality (super) and the region where these wines are made (Tuscany).
Our tour begins by car (although cycling is the most comprehensive way of visiting this area) along the famous cypress-lined avenue leading to Bolgheri, immortalized in Giosuè Carducci’s poem “Davanti a San Guido”, “The cypress trees stand straight and true from Bolgheri to San Guido in double rows…”. Edged by two rows of centuries-old cypresses, the road extends over six kilometres of incredible beauty to the town, whose entrance is marked by a gateway that is part of the old castle. Bolgheri boasts many restaurants and eateries that serve local specialities, such as farro, ribollita and cavolo nero soups; pappardelle pasta with dove sauce; pecorino cheese and local cured meats. There’s no shortage of wine bars where you can taste DOC Bolgheri.
After your stroll, get back in the car and drive along the Wine Road, which winds its way along the Via Bolgherese (SP16) into the Castagneto Carducci municipality. Wine tourists will fall in love with the symmetry of the vines, edged with maritime pine and cypress trees.
This is where the grapes grow that have made this corner of Tuscany famous worldwide. Tenuta dell’Ornellaia (home to Masseto, an iconic Merlot, and signature wine Ornellaia) is the first winery you come across, immediately followed by the boutique winery Le Macchiole (famous for Paleo, Scrio and Messorio). Vineyards can be seen every which way, owned by world-renowned wineries that have invested in this area, as well as small-scale operations, less known to the general public but devoted all the same to the production of top-tier wines. In the distance, practically hidden out of sight, you can catch a glimpse of Angelo Gaja’s Ca’ Marcanda and, almost opposite, the vineyards of Campo alla Sughera. Closer to the sea, Antinori’s Guado al Tasso can be spotted, the largest winery in Bolgheri.
Don’t overlook the small- to medium-sized, family-run wineries that focus on high-end wines, such as Ferrari Iris e Figli, Campo al Noce, Il Magazzino, Eucaliptus, Tenuta di Vaira, Guado al Melo, La Cerretella, Poggio alle Querce, Campo al Pero, Podere Giovanni, Giorgio Meletti Cavallari, Serni Fulvio Luigi, La Vigna dei Musi, Fornacelle, Podere il Castellaccio, Sant’Agata and Micheletti Enio. Here you can purchase wine, oil and home-grown fruit and vegetables, such as melons, watermelons, peaches, strawberries, asparagus, artichokes and broad beans, depending on the season.
Heading inland, into the hills that surround the vineyards, olive trees rule the roost, resulting in the production of high-quality olive oil. Extra-virgin olive oil is an integral part of the history of the Castagneto Carducci and Bolgheri areas. The old trees stand witness to the olive growing here in the past, when oil was a precious commodity. The unique coastal soil and microclimate make the area one of the very best for balanced and delicately flavoured oil. Traditional Tuscan cultivars are grown here, such as Frantoio, Moraiolo and Leccino, as well as other typical local varieties like Olivastro del Palone and Gremignolo di Bolgheri. Countless farmhouses offer accommodation for travellers.
At the end of the via Bolgherese we start to climb up to the town of Castagneto Carducci, which boasts sweeping views over the valley as far as the sea. The picturesque town brims with places to eat and drink. Culinary traditions are still alive, based on the fruits of the earth and game as well as the nearby coastline, which pair perfectly with the world-famous reds. Try the local white and rosé wines too (rosé was once the most famous wine produced locally before the arrival of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes), which work wonderfully with fish dishes.
Castagneto a Tavola is held every spring in Castagneto Carducci. It’s a food and wine fair, which provides opportunities to taste, take part in themed dinners, food workshops and guided tours of the wineries. The event’s symbolic dish is Testina di Cinghiale alla Castagnetana, cooked wild boar head, which is still shrouded in mystery.