The grapes are fat and juicy, the harvest is in full flow, and so is the wine. Because while people are toiling in the fields breaking their backs picking the new grapes, lots of other people are tasting huge quantities of the end result at a number of wine festivals.
The two big ones near us, at Panzano and Greve, are both excellent ways to taste a lot of different local wines, and have a lot of fun in the process.
Greve in Chianti – the Big One
The Chianti Classico Expo in Greve usually takes place the second weekend in September, and it’s a big show, the biggest annual wine fair in the Chianti Classico region. There are near 100 stands, and most of these will have several wines you can taste. The usual format is that you buy a glass and a number of tickets, usually for around €15, and you spend these tickets tasting whichever wines you like. When some of the wines retail at over €50/bottle, that’s not a bad deal. And if you spend all your tickets, and are still standing, you can always buy more. To be honest, a lot of stands don’t even bother collecting the tickets!
There are bands, live craft demonstrations, and the usual motley collection of performing artists, so if you’re brave enough to bring your kids, there’s stuff for them to look at too. But it’s a very busy affair, and the market square in the centre of Greve is usually packed, so I’d suggest this is one for grown-ups.
It’s noisy, busy, and there’s a bit of a party atmosphere. A lot of fun.
Panzano’s Vino al Vino
The following weekend, Panzano, just down the road from Greve on the Chiantigana, hosts it’s own wine festival. This is a very different animal, far smaller, with maybe a score of very local exhibitors. Still pretty busy, but far fewer people on a much smaller site, in the central square. But size isn’t everything, and the quality of the wines is extremely high. No wine-lover could go to Vino al Vino and come home disappointed.
We like them both, and try to visit each on alternate years.