The Abbey of Passignano, located in the heart of Chianti, has really ancient origins, built on the year 395 A.C. for order of the Arcibishop of Florence at that time. The Abbey has been home of Saint Giovanni Gualberto who founded the Vallombrosian Order - a reformed branch of the Benedictines specialized in viniculture and forestry. His relics are still kept in the Abbey from his death in the year 1023. The Vallombrosian monks still live in this Abbey and take care of this great cultural heritage.
The wine produced in Badia a Passignano is now signed Antinori - the greatest wine producer of Chianti Classico. The winery Antinori has bought in the 1987 the land that surrounds the Abbey, in a total of 220 hectares. The Abbey is still property of the Vallombrosian monks, who has given the concession to Antinori to use its historic cellars to age this special wine.
The greatest feature of this property is the fact that the local vines are so ancient, beacuse of the monks tradition to cultivate wine. The Benectines' rules in fact say: "Ora et labora", from the beggining they have been allways absorbed in the prayer and work, be it the cultivation, the study or in the past the art of the copysts of books. This is the reason why this order has been always connected to the knowledge and science. The proof is that Galileo Galilei has taught in Passignano Abbey in 1587.
The Florentine State archive mentions many times the importance of Badia a Passignano for the history of Chianti, there are many pieces of information about the Sangiovese vines and its cultivation in this area. To confirm this, in 1983 has been found in the lands that surorund the Abbey a plant of "vitis vinifera" of more than a thousand years old.
The only wine produced at Badia a Passignano is the "Badia a Passignano Chianti Classico Riserva D.O.C.G.". This is a really valuable wine, and because of that is considered a Riserva and is produced in a few quantity. The grapes cultivated in the lands which surround the Abbey, are all grafted with very old vines, specially the variety Sangiovese, typical of this area. The best quality grapes are selected from the harvest, and pass through a modern process of fermentation in stainless steel, respecting anyway the traditional methods.
After that the wine is transferred part into Hungarian oak barriques and part into French barriues, all barriques are used only once. The wine ages for 14 months, after that each barrique will be tasted and selected before the assemblage. The wine is refined in bottle for another year before it can be sold. The historic cellars under the Abbey have the original vaulted ceiling, all made of thick stone walls, so the humidity and temperature inside are natural, constant for the whole year and ideal for the aging of the wine. There are at least 2000 barriques.
The tour of the cellars is opened every afternoon, at 3.30 pm (except for Thursday and Sunday), followed by a guided wine tasting in the Osteria. Reservation is required. It is possibel to reserve a private booking, every day except for Thursday and Sunday, either at 11.15 am or 6.15 pm. The tour will be made in English language. To make a reservation, you can contact the Osteria di Passignano, by:
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Phone: 0039 0558071278
The Abbey can not be visited, as long as it is still inhabited by the monks, bt if you contact the Osteria they can offer you a whole-day tour, including the vineyards, with the guide of an expert wine maker, who will explain you the whole process, ending up with a delicious meal, matching each dish with a wine among the 4 kinds of Antinori's products (that you can choose between the Classics or the Supertuscans) and an extra virgin olive oil tasting.
Besides, the Osteria offers also cooking classes in their brand new kitchen school, but for that you need at least one more morning or afternoon... The Osteria is a renovated farmhouse transformed into a restaurant, tasting room and wine shop, located within a short distance from the Abbey, surrounded by the beautiful landscape of the vineyards.
In the end, if you liked (and you certainly will) you can pourchase their special wine Badia a Passignano and all other products of the winery Antinori in the charming wine "bottega" - their wine shop.