By Patrick Bènard, Fuori Tutti Series #4
What could be more ideal than living in a town of historical significance where rivers, mountains, beaches, and wineries are accessible by bicycle or a short commute? These are just some of the advantages of our beloved Lucca.
Today’s outside the walls journey involves a 30-minute bike ride to a local winery for a tasting. Late March and April is an interesting time for a winery visit, as the 2021 vintages are just now being made available for sampling. Most are still being bottled, or were in the last 30 days, and 2021 seems to have been a very good year for the Lucchese hills. Time will tell if it was exceptional, but fresh, crisp, wines are on the menu right now.
With a focus on accessibility, we chose Azienda Agricola Valle Del Sole in Cappella (VDS). Located 7km from Lucca’s walls, VDS can be reached on foot or bike. We rode there Tuesday with weather still a little chilly for this time of year, but the bike ride was a gentle-ish climb, that warmed us up nicely before the day’s grueling wine sampling. Located at Via Della Cappella, 864, VDS is a small family run business that deserves to be known.
Owned by the Boselli family, our tasting and tour were conducted by Julia Giovanelli, the young Napa Valley and Australian trained winemaker. Julia has been overseeing VDS’s wine making since 2019, and takes an obvious and well merited pride in sharing her creations. With only 10 hectares of production, VDS bottles 40,000 a year, most of which are consumed locally in Lucca’s restaurants and wine shops. Such a small production means you will not find these wines at your home wine shop, although they do ship cases overseas for direct orders.
Every winery claims a set number of geographic advantages that make their wines special. Soil, slope, drainage, sun exposure, breeze and the rest of it. This is practically a template of virtues and VDS doesn’t shy away from making these same claims. And yet, there is truth in VDS’s ideal location. Beyond the cliches, there is professionalism with ambition, and this small winery has it embodied in Julia.
Although missing a DOC designation, the winery is literally meters away from qualifying and settles for iGT status. Italy’s designations are severe but the actual difference from one level to the other can be in reality, meaningless. From the consumer’s perspective, in this case it means more affordable wines. The wines we sampled ranged between 13 and 25 Euros.
Producing as many as 10 varieties, the standouts for us were:
- Mailie which tasted like it had been picked and bottled a few weeks ago. Fresh and fun.
- H’ama is a trebbiano of substance offering high minerality and hints of chamomile. A favorite.
- Ebrius, an aged sangiovese that would stand up to any spicy meal
- Soleo, an original desert wine with just the right amount of sugars not to be overwhelming
All VDS’s wines are organic and certified. All are picked by hand and bottled on site.
The beauty of wine tasting on a bike is that you inherently avoid the evils of drunk driving. Having said that, drunk riding is no joke either. Julia’s pours were generous, so be sure to pace yourself and spend as much time on their lovely sun-drenched terrace, to be sure you get yourself home safely.
Fate a moda vostra and enjoy.