The party for our 60 harvests

Saturday 23 October 2021 at our company we celebrated sixty years of activity with a vertical in the barrel room, a tasting of old vintages – Chianti Classico 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2014 (Magnum, Chianti Classico Riserva il Drugo), 2016 , 2017, 2018 – and a lunch with the dishes of chef Matteo Caccavo of Osteria Il Pratellino. Eight vintages in the presence of professionals including sommeliers, journalists and bloggers from the sector.

The event was introduced and presented by Leonardo Romanelli, a well-known gastronome, journalist and sommelier, and Giampaolo Chiettini, an oenologist who has been involved in the Santo Stefano company for years.

“Santo Stefano is a family business that is located in a land that has an important history, – says Giampaolo Chiettini – in 1716, the year in which Cosimo III determined the boundaries of Chianti, it was said that in this area there were wines that ‘could navigate’, that is, also suitable for export because they would not have wasted; here there is fabric, there is character, they are wines to drink. Our greatest work is in the vineyard during the harvest, only the best grapes will be vinified for our labels, and in difficult years, such as 2014, we always manage to find the vineyard that best responds to adversity “.

Many journalists and bloggers attended the tasting, including the AIS delegate for Tuscany Massimo Castellani, who focused particularly on the stylistic choices of the wines.

“For me it was very important to visit the vineyards and understand what the lands and the processes are done, – says Castellani – the solution found for the Il Drugo 2014 reserve was a winner, only the Sobole vineyard, which I was able to visit , could give the best grapes to make this wine. The oenological capacity of the company made it possible to identify the pearl that could allow it, and which somehow overcomes the stereotypes born of this vintage in Chianti. “

A day full of satisfactions for us brothers, for years we have been passionately following the production of the wines of our family farm, and we are constantly engaged in a process of research and improvement of our wines.

“Our father Mauro Bendinelli, a lawyer originally from Certaldo, bought the estate, consisting of the village, the forest with the olive grove and the vineyards in 1961 and in 1963 joined the Chianti Classico Consortium; we are proud to be part of the historic Chianti Classico wineries. – tell Maria, Chiara, Anna, Bruno, Agostino and Elena Bendinelli – Initially this wanted to be a second holiday home, also designed for our grandparents. The vineyards until then had been followed by sharecroppers but over time my father dedicated himself to them, he rolled up his sleeves with passion, involving the whole family. The wine continued to do so both in bulk and in a few bottles for friends or small sales. He handled everything a good farmer and that was it. We brothers entered a little at a time, also doing other jobs, until in 2000 we decided to manage everything ourselves and founded the company.
Over the years we have replanted new vineyards, we have also dealt with the company reorganization, with an oenologist, the technicians who support us in the work, and we intervened both from a technological point of view in the cellar, renewing the vinification and refining part, but above all by investing in the vineyards. In addition to this, we have also focused on direct sales and on agritourism, but also on exports, in particular with America and Germany. “

The menu of Osteria Il Pratellino is much appreciated, served in the splendid farmhouse barrel room and composed of an exquisite sauce of local organic lentils, seasonal cabbage and broccoli and fried bread wafer as an appetizer while, as first courses, those present were able to taste Tuscan red onion carabaccia with ricotta and onion ravioli au gratin with Gran Mugello and a pumpkin and Cinta Senese sausage risotto with goat cream and almonds. As a second course, the Cinta Senese pork loin with rustic carrot puree with ginger was served and, finally, a must of traditional Tuscan cuisine, that is, a delicious English soup with Alkermes from Florence.

Our family’s greatest commitment is to keep the peculiarities of this historic village intact in the Chianti hills, respecting biodiversity and the perfect balance between nature and technology.

“These places must be truly lived, guests feel part of a context and want to take part in it in all senses – explain Elena, Chiara and Agostino – The cut of our farm is very familiar, the visitor here always finds a person who welcomes him and transmits warmth to him “.

With this year’s harvest, the new vineyards planted in 2018 also came into production, this allowed us to think about the production of a new type of wine: it will in fact be a new high-end IGT, which will celebrate the 60th year of activity of the Fattoria Santo Stefano winery.

September: time for Porcini and Gran Selezione

September is synonymous with Porcini mushrooms

Known as “the lords of the woods,” Porcini are treasures in the autumn kitchen. Mushrooms are undoubtedly a delectable ingredient, and they can help you get creative in the kitchen.

Porcini mushrooms (also known as the Cep or Penny-bun Bolete) are one of the tastiest gifts that nature offers us in the autumn months and they can be used in various ways in the kitchen, either raw or cooked.

Porcini mushrooms grow under several different trees and at different altitudes. Starting at 700-800 metres above sea level in a chestnut forest, they grow under oak and beech trees. At 1500 – 1600 metres, they can be found in pine tree forests.

This month we suggest a special pairing for the Porcino: our Gran Selezione. The refined taste of the Porcino pairs exceptionally well with a full-bodied wine, as it brings out its full flavour and sweetens its taste.

So, here is a simple but tasty recipe: tagliatelle with porcini.

As far as the tagliatelle is concerned, choose a high quality fresh egg variety. Tagliatelle generally doesn’t need to be cooked for long, but check the packaging to ensure the correct cooking time.

  1. Once the water boils and you’ve added a generous pinch of coarse salt, add the tagliatelle.
  2. In the meantime, we suggest you get your delicious porcini ready: clean them carefully by rinsing them under running water. Slice them thinly and put them aside. Now, get your non-stick pan ready by heating some oil with a crushed clove of garlic and a pinch of chopped parsley. Then add the mushrooms.
  3. Cook them on low heat for about 10 minutes and when they’re almost cooked, add a pinch of whole sea salt or pink salt. They are now ready to add to the pasta.

If you’re feeling bold, add a tablespoon of cream. This will make it sweeter and creamier, as well as help mix the pasta sauce.

Lastly, add the tagliatelle to your exquisite porcini and there you have it! Buon appetito!

Chianti Classico D.O.C.G. Gran Selezione  2016 : un blend di 90% Sangiovese del vigneto Sobole e 10% Cabernet Sauvignon  è un vino dal gusto di frutta rossa con note di lampone, che incontra l’aroma gentile dei fiori di giglio selvatici, fine ed elegante con un piacevole struttura alcolica; Le uve scelte pazientemente vengono posto a fermentare nei tini di acciaio e quindi ad affinare nelle botti di rovere francese per 30 mesi, fino all’imbottigliamento.

Radda in Chianti: a must-see for lovers of Chianti Classico

It’s no surprise that Radda used to be the capital of the Chianti region. Its strategic position was fundamental as the administrative centre of nearby towns Gaiole and Castellina.

Radda in Chianti is a spectacular Medieval hamlet and as its name suggests, it is in the heart of the Chianti region. It is nestled in the hills between the two valleys of Arbia and Pesa. Radda, whose name appears to have German origins and initially known as Ratti, is rich in history.

The breathtaking views, the typical atmosphere of small Tuscan hamlets, the calendar which is always full of cultural and folkloristic events and the natural flavours of this land all make Radda one of the destinations that must be in your Chianti itinerary.

The current name, Radda in Chianti, dates back to 1911 and it was called so in an attempt to give further value to the wine production of the area.

Why visit Radda in Chianti

It’s definitely not its size, nor the abundance of historical sites, that will lead you to explore this small town; it is the enchanting atmosphere which can be felt within its ancient city walls that really gets you.

Radda has done an excellent job in restoring the majority of the ancient Medieval hamlet, bringing it back to its origins of stone, rock and tunnels.

The “Casa del Chianti Classico”

A visit to the Casa del Chianti Classico (the Chianti Classico House) also includes the restored Santa Maria del Prato Convent and an in-depth tour, allowing you to discover the secrets of the production of the Chianti Classico. This space is dedicated to spreading and sharing the knowledge of wine and Chianti products. The area, which has been well-documented since the beginning of 1100, has its origins in the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary. It then became more important and eventually became a pilgrimage site.

How to get to Radda in Chianti

Radda is the next stop after visiting Greve and Panzano. Just after leaving Panzano behind you, there are a few tight curves and on your left, you’ll see a street with a sign showing the way to Gaiole and Radda. The lush vegetation is proof that the soil is rich and perfect for vineyard cultivation. After about 9 – 10 km, you’ll come to a red-brick archway and then a roundabout: follow the signs to Radda.

Coming from Siena, you can take the Florence – Siena motorway junction and then take the Badesse exit. Follow the signs to Castellina and then to Radda in Chianti. Otherwise you can take the SR 222 road right after Siena and follow the road to Castellina and Radda.

If you opt for the bus, take the SITA coach no. 365A from Greve in Chianti to Lucarelli. You’ll then have to change buses and get on the Siena S101 bus, which stops at Radda first and then Gaiole. If you’re coming from Siena however, take bus no. 125.

A visit to the magical Certaldo

Certaldo is a small Medieval Tuscan town, famous for being the place of birth (and death) of the poet and writer Giovanni Boccaccio.

Situated in the middle of the valley of the river Elsa (Val d’Elsa), it hosts many historically, culturally and artistically significant buildings.

Don’t be misled by Certaldo Bassa (Lower Certaldo), which is a more recent town; take the funicular railway and go up to Certaldo Alto (Upper Certaldo). You’ll immediately notice that time has stood still, as the hamlet (protected by three gates) is basically identical to when Boccaccio was born, lived and died there.

It isn’t far from Siena and San Gimignano; an area of Tuscany which is full of art, nature and culture.

Certaldo is world-famous for its intact Medieval town centre, which unfolds along its only main road.

WHY can’t you miss a visit to Certaldo?

It is one of the most picturesque Medieval hamlets of Tuscany and Val D’Elsa and it has preserved its old-fashioned magical charm. What’s more, Certaldo offers excellent food and wine culture.

WHAT to see in Certaldo

Upper Certaldo (Certaldo Alta) is the heart of this town. The Museum Casa Boccaccio is located here: he is believed to have been born here in 1313 and lived here until his death.

While wandering around the house, you’ll find a study centre and valuable library, where several copies of The Decameron are kept.

In the historical centre you can also visit the church dedicated to St Jacob and St. Philip, and the tomb of the famous story teller, Boccaccio.

Don’t miss Palazzo Pretorio, a symbol of the Medieval town, where some important artworks are kept: one of Pier Francesco Fiorentino’s Madonna with Child from 1489, a Crucifixion from 1478 and a Pietà.

The Museum of Religious Art and the Nail Museum, which has a vast collection of nails and tools from across the centuries, are also worth a visit.

MERCANTIA

Every summer an international street theatre festival is held in Certaldo: MERCANTIA. Suitable for all ages, the live performances take place along the alleyways of the hamlet, creating a unique and magical atmosphere which just cannot be missed!

The juggling and acrobatic shows in Mercantia transform the town in an enchanted place.

Certaldo is a charming place, even without famous events. You can take in its atmosphere while strolling along the streets of the centre, or stopping in one of the traditional restaurants to savour the local delicacies. Just outside Certaldo, at the Collinare Canonica Park, you can go jogging, hiking or nordic walking.

OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION

Casa del Boccaccio

Via Boccaccio – Certaldo Alto (Fi)


Winter Opening Times: from Tuesday to Sunday from 10.30 to 13.30

Summer Opening Times: every day from 10.00 to 19.00

Call for more information Ph.+39 0571.664208

Lignification (Agostamento) of the shoots: the grapes ripen

The grapes are ripe when the sugars and acids are perfectly balanced, and when tannins and the colouring substances (contained mostly in the skins) are extractable.

The ripening stage begins with veraison and continues for a variable period: from about 30 days for early varieties to 50 – 60 days for later ones.

The stage of the vegetative cycle which sees the shoots change consistency and colour (with the accumulation of resources and the slowing of growth) is called lignification.

Lignification (or the woody maturation of the shoots) is very important for the following year’s production: good lignification allows the plant to better withstand the winter, and it also influences its life cycle.

The passage of the vine’s primary shoot structure to its secondary one is generally completed in August, hence the Italian term for lignification: Agostamento.

During this phase, shoots undergo lignification: the green colour disappears and a woody bark is formed. The phenomenon can initially be noticed in the lower part of the shoot and then spreads to the higher part. It is the consequence of the development and accumulation of resources: sugars, as a matter of fact, travel towards the shoots, where they are stored as starch.

2020 Harvest on the Farm

Harvest is the most magical part of the year for us here at Fattoria Santo Stefano. We have always produced our grapes and wines with passion and this year was of no exception. Despite this being a unique year, with its trials and tribulations over the past months, we have been blessed with good results. Thanks to this year’s scorching summer, and our hard work in the vineyard, we have reaped the benefits of this 2020. We are happy to share some photos of these moments with you. Harvest is the moment when the grapes have fully ripened and can therefore be picked. They are then processed and the actual vinification phase begins. This means the alcoholic fermentation of the sugar in the ripe grapes transforms the must into wine. We truly hope that these grapes become the high quality product which has always set us apart.

Gran Selezione

Drugo

Chianti Classico

Rosato and watermelon refresh the palate

Another interesting pairing which we’d like you to try this scorching summer is Rosato with watermelon.

Watermelon is a summer fruit that is highly appreciated due to its water quantity and thirst-quenching properties.
Watermelon has a purifying effect, it strengthens the bones and contains just 16 calories per 100 grams. What’s more, it’s a refreshing, diuretic fruit, as well as being anti-inflammatory.

It contains several vitamins, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium and it’s 93% water.

Watermelon contains the same pigment that colours tomatoes, i.e. lycopene, which is very important for fighting inflammation.

In addition, it contains precious minerals, which we lose through sweat, but that can be re-establised with a nice refreshing slice of watermelon.

The presence of vitamin C, and potassium in particular, has a purifying and detoxifying effect, which makes watermelon the ideal fruit to naturally hinder water retention, leg swelling and hypertension.

Watermelon is also rich in citrulline, an amino acid which assures healthy blood pressure levels and maintains the artery walls elastic. It is therefore useful in preventing hypertension and heart disease.

Children obviously also love it, due to its characteristically sweet taste.

Why pair watermelon with Rosato

Our Rosato Sei Rose is a fresh wine. It is the result of a competent use of sangiovese, canaiolo and colorino grapes and it perfectly accompanies our hot August days.

Our Rosato, while fresh and thirst-quenching, has an alcohol content of 13%. Paired with the sweetness of watermelon, its taste is enhanced, giving a feeling of completeness.

A slice of watermelon and a nice glass of Rosato Sei Rose is, without a doubt, an excellent, refreshing, reinvigorating and relaxing pairing: the perfect way to enjoy the shade of a beautiful tree on our holiday farm in the Tuscan countryside.

Rosato delle nostre terre, ha un colore limpido, potente, intenso di ciliegia. La vinificazione avviene con tecnica del salasso

Your 2020 Holidays in Chianti, Italians rediscover “Made in Italy”

Chianti is a favourite holiday destination for Italians and a farmhouse (agriturismo) holiday is the best choice for total relaxation and good food.

Post COVID Italy has chosen to rise up by rebooting local tourism and disdaining travel abroad. COVID is frightening; Italy is a popular holiday destination for people all over the world, so why can’t we Italians enjoy it, too?

It’s better to stay within our borders and savour the beauty on a lovely Tuscan holiday farm.

After lock down, Italians are choosing an agriturismo holiday, here’s why:

  • Italy is at the top of the list as far as prevention and anti COVID safety measures are concerned
  • Relaxation and fine living reigns on a holiday farm
  • The farm is surrounded by nature, which regenerates and reduces accumulated stress
  • You can try typical “farm-to-table” products, such as some good Chianti and Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVO)
  • And, why not, it’s a good way to actively contribute to our country’s revival.

“It has been a real change for us this year, we’ve had bookings from many Italians (especially from the North), who are looking for an alternative to the sea and the mountains,” Elena Bendinelli explains, from Agriturismo Fattoria Santo Stefano in Greve in Chianti. “It is a first for many families: from playing in the pool with their children to reading a book in the shade of an ancient tree. Many young people are also interested in enotourism. On our farm, you can actually taste our wines, as well as high quality farm-to-table products, or even venture out to explore our beautiful Chianti region.”

With particular attention to COVID regulations, the farm actually reserves specific areas to each guest, with poolside umbrellas and deck chairs designated to each apartment.
After months of inactivity due to lock down, Italy itself is responsible for allowing Chianti to restart, choosing it as a place of relaxation and fine living for a holiday break. The Italians who have chosen to stay within the borders of “the Boot” have set their sights on Greve in Chianti as an outdoor destination, in full Made in Italy style.

Our vines are already in the Veraison phase

It’s July and summer is in full swing! In the months of May and June, we got the Vines ready to fully benefit from the summer sun, through the delicate phases of leaf-pulling and defoliation. It’s now time to witness another very important phase: Veraison.

What is Veraison?

Veraison isn’t an actual procedure carried out on the plants, but it can be recognised when the bunches of grapes change colour. In this stage, we witness the ripening of the grapes, which fill up with water and sugary substances, as well as a change in size, colour and suppleness.
Veraison is another very delicate phase of the productive cycle of the vine. In this period, we’re getting ready for the harvest.

Veraison: duration

The Veraison process doesn’t happen at the same time for all grapes. It actually changes from grape to grape on each bunch present on the vine. The average time is between 40 and 50 days and varies according to the type of vine.
The stage of Veraison greatly depends on the weather conditions. We always hope that we will be spared from heavy rain and hail during this period, as the harvest may be threatened and grapes damaged.
It is a pleasure to walk among the grapevines in the month of July: you can almost feel the satisfaction of the previous months’ hard work, which is almost coming to an end. You’ll definitely notice if you come and visit us during this time!

Visiting Barberino Val d’Elsa

Barberino Val d’Elsa is a small, ancient hamlet around 37.9 km from Florence.

Like other hamlets in the area, many very interesting Medieval archaeological sites are hidden there. Barberino is a jewel of a town, with breathtaking views of its natural surroundings. What’s more, it has preserved its history and origins throughout the passing of time.

A titbit of history

Having quite ancient origins, this small hamlet was first called Semifonte (1202 CE). Famous for its strategic position, it was situated on the Strada Regia Romana, which, at the time, connected Florence to Rome.

Today, what remains of Semifonte are the two city gates (entrance and exit): the Porta Romana (still intact) and the Porta Fiorentina (rebuilt). For decades the inhabitants of Semifonte, who were skilful soldiers and capable merchants, had to fight against the Florentines, who just did not approve of the expansion of the city.

The construction of the hamlet on the remains of Semifonte dates back to 1597, when permission was finally granted to build an octagonal chapel dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel. The chapel still exists today and is open to worshippers and tourists.

Over the centuries, Semifonte (or what is left of it) became Barberino Val d’Elsa, a small spindle shaped jewel, which definitely deserves a visit if on holiday in Greve in Chianti.

What to visit in Barberino Val d’Elsa

The centre of Barberino Val D’Elsa

The small hamlet of Barberino Val d’Elsa is characterised by its longitudinal expansion, which gives it its spindle shape when seen from above. This allows you to reach the centre of the town whatever direction you’re coming from: whether from Siena, passing through the Porta Senese, or from Florence, through the Porta Fiorentina. If you enter the city through the Porta Fiorentina, it’s worth stopping to visit the old “Spedale dei Pelegrini” (Pilgrims’ Hospital), which dates back to 1365, and the Chiesa di San Bartolomeo (St. Bartholomew’s Church).
If you decide to explore Barberino, there are several interesting tourist attractions you cannot miss. Here’s a short list, and you can find out more on the official site of the town of Barberino (http://www.barberinovaldelsa.net/):

The Sant’Appiano Pieve

Often said to be the oldest in the Chianti region, it is one of the most beautiful Romanesque churches in the area.

Linari

Linari is a characteristic Medieval walled hamlet of ancient origins. It is very charming, especially because of its position, nestled amongst the green Valdelsane hills, just off the Francigena road which leads to Barberino.

The St. Martino ai Colli Chapel

Situated on an olive grove near the road, this chapel has become historically important (despite not having any artistic value) because of the discovery under its foundations. At the beginning of our century, two Etruscan tombs were found, dating back to the VIII-VII centuries BCE. The thirty-three urns recovered from the digs of tombs in the area are kept in the Archaeological Museum of Florence and in the Antiquarium of Sant’Appiano.

How to get to Barberino Val d’Elsa

From our Fattoria Santo Stefano, Barberino is about 36 minutes by car, taking the Via Cassia Street / SR2.
Don’t let the beauty of Barberino Val d’Elsa, where time seems to have stood still, pass you by. After the tour, we’ll be waiting for you on the Farm to offer you some refreshments. Don’t hesitate to ask for more information at reception.