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Val d’Orcia: A Wine Tasting Itinerary

Flavors of the Landscape: Wines to Taste & Vineyards to Visit

It is definitely not easy to makie a name for yourself and your wines in Tuscany when you grow up right between two great Tuscan wines worldwide: the Brunello di Montalcino (from the area around Montalcino) and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (from around Montepulciano).

With determination and a good base of locally grown grapes, the wines of all of the other wine producers in the area not falling in either of those areas have created the DOC appellation for the Val d’Orcia. These have started drawing attention considering their high quality and diversity. The Orcia DOC is a recent addition to the recognized denomination wines in Tuscany, acquiring their official designation on February 14, 2000.

The Hills of Val d'Orcia

Besides the fabulous landscapes which have been awarded World Heritage Status from UNESCO, the Val d’Orcia excels in locally produced items, especially in the area of food.

Aside from the wine, this area is also well-known for its production of extra virgin olive oil, white truffles, salumi, saffron, their own special brand of pig called “Cinta Senese”, the big white Chianina cows and who can forget the sheep, which result in a wide selection of "pecorino" cheeses.

A Denomination in Val D’Orcia

The rich finds of Etruscan and Roman artifacts related to wine and the growing of the grapes in the area are proof that the Val d'Orcia area has a long history of producing renowned wines. Even the names of some of the towns, like that of Bagno Vignoni where "vignoni" comes from the word vigna, meaning vineyard, is a testament that this area has always been producing wine.

The production area is nestled between Montalcino and Montepulciano, and includes the following communes: Buonconvento, Castiglione d’Orcia, Pienza, Radicofani, San Giovanni d’Asso, San Quirico d’Orcia and Trequanda as well as including parts of Abbadia San Salvatore, Chianciano Terme, Montalcino, San Casciano dei Bagni, Sarteano and Torrita di Siena.

Due to climate change and the reduction of spring frost (which would once play havoc with grape production), it has become possible to take the wine production in this area to a higher level.

Sant Antimo, an area for the Orcia DOC wines in Tuscany

What Distinguishes an Orcia DOC Wine

D.O.C. wines - Controlled designation of origin

Logo Orcia DOC wines in Val d'Orcia Tuscany

D.O.C. wines are regulated by a set of production rules and are distinguished by a very precise area of origin which may also include sub-areas that limit like a certain village, hamlet, farm, or vineyard. When you find a label with D.O.C. attached to the capsule of the bottle, they you know that it refers to a government guarantee of the origin of the wine.

Two of the Tuscany's local grapes - the Sangiovese, a red variety, and Trebbiano, a white grape - excel in this area and they are the base for the wines which are produced under the Orcia Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) status. The DOC red wine is composed of at least 60% Sangiovese and the remaining 40% is a blend of other varieties. The dry white wine and Vin Santo style DOC wines are composed of at least 50% Trebbiano with other local grapes filling out the rest of the blend.

DOC wine, cheese, truffles and more foods in Val d'OrCIa in Tuscany

Organoleptic Qualities of the Various Orcia Wines

Orcia and Orcia Riserva

Color: ruby red, tends to be garnet with aging

Fragrance: vinous, fruity

Flavor: dry, flavorful, harmonic

Orcia White

Color: White sometimes yellow with green tints

Fragrance: delicate, fruity

Flavor: dry, harmonic

Orcia Rosè

Color: from pale pink to cherry pink

Fragrance: delicate, fruity

Flavor: dry, harmonic, fresh

Orcia Sangiovese and Orcia Sangiovese Riserva

Color: ruby red, tends to be garnet with aging

Fragrance: vinous, sometimes with a fruity note of cherries or violets

Flavor: dry, full-bodied, harmonic

Orcia Vinsanto

Color: from straw yellow to golden or even deep amber

Fragrance: intense, ethereal, characteristic aromas

Flavor: from dry to sweet, harmonic, velvety, soft

An itinerary for exploring the area

This area invites not only those curious to do wine tastings but also those who love the Tuscan landscape and a genuine Tuscan meal. The consortium for the Val d’Orcia wines is well organized with a website and map for picking out the wineries that can offer a visit to the cantina, the vineyards, a wine tasting experience and some that cal also provide a tasting of many of the other products from the area. In fact the Consortium have quite a lofty and appreciated goal:

turn casual visitors into avid consumers, connoisseurs, and ambassadors for our Orcia wines.

If you find yourself wandering the hills of Val d’Orcia in April, then save the date for the Orcia Wine Festival held in San Quirico d'Orcia every year. For those of you looking to combine the area's pecorino cheese, a bit of folklore and wine, then mark your calendar for the first week of September, because in addition to soaking in the lovely late summer colors of the area, you can partecipate in the Fiera di Caccio (the cheese market) in Pienza.

Cheese Market in Pienza every September (Fiera del Cacio)

Since this is a wine region which is relatively new, many of the vineyards, though steeped in family tradition, are boasting modern facilities, organic methods of planting and growing and are family-owned operations.

Ideas for your Wine Tasting Itinerary in Val d'Orcia

Below we list a few of our favorites that you might want to include in your list of places to visit. Remember to always book before you go: just send an email and they will help you plan your visit: 

Castelnuovo Tancredi | BUONCONVENTO

The castle located just west of Buonconvento boasts a long and varied history, which comes together with their delicious wines. The panoramic position is ideal for photos, you can even see Siena in the distance. Contact the offices directly to book your tasting.

Sasso di Sole | MONTALCINO

This vineyard is located 300 metres above sea level on approximately 8 hecatares of land in the Montalcino area.The entire vineyard is made of native Sangiovese vine. A particularity of this vineyard is that they are within both the Brunello area as well as the Orcia DOC - so with one visit you get two types of wine tastings. Contact the winery to book your tasting.

Le Buche | SARTEANO

In the cellar this winery uses barriques, tonneaux and barrels of the best qualities of French oak from different forests, constantly seeking the perfect combination between wood and wine. In addition, the father/son team age their wines in barrels accompanied by a constant soft background of classical music, for a balanced and harmonious development. Not sure it works but it makes for a great setting for a visit. Contact Le Buche to book your tasting.

Podere Forte | CASTIGLIONE D'ORCIA

“We work the fields just as they did 2000 years ago but in the cellar we are 200 hundred years ahead”. The vineyard and other products are cultivated organic, bio-dynamic and Demeter approved. Reserve online for a full tour including all 5 floors of their cantina. Book your tasting directly.

Let us know where you go and what you think of your wine tasting experience in the Val d'Orcia area!


Author: Donna Scharnagl

It has been more than 25 years since I took my first steps in Italy and I still haven’t found a good reason to leave.  Between the food, the culture, the history, the art, the landscapes … did I mention the food? I have become a lifelong student. It didn't take long to learn that Italians all have stories that long to be told; stories that paint a picture of how hard work produces character, how life is made of ups and downs and how good it feels to laugh.



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