Here in Tuscany, agriculture has developed according to a simple objective:
producing high quality products in order to have a high quality of life.
This is the philosophy of Valdichiana Senese, too: its culinary culture, its peculiarities and its commonalities all
contribute to the uniqueness of this land. Tuscany’s desire to reach the highest quality possible in the field of
food farming has led to the achievement of 16 DOPs and 15 IGPs.
Are you curious about which ones are typical to Valdichiana?
Let’s take a moment to discover and learn about the various quality labels.
Protected Designation of Origin: it identifies the denomination of a product which has been produced, transformed and processed in a specific geographic area which has been properly appraised, recognized and certified.
Protected Geographical Indication: the product is linked to its land of origin for at least part of its production, transformation or processing. Additionally, the product has a high reputation.
Traditional Specialty Guaranteed: its objective is to add value to a traditional composition of the product, or a traditional production process.
Traditional Agri-food Products: the business card of high-quality Italian agriculture. This term identifies those agri-food products whose methods of processing, preservation and aging are consolidated by time, stay coherent in all the interested areas, and follow traditional rules – for no less than 25 years.
Controlled and Guaranteed Denomination of Origin: this label is given to wines that have earned DOC status at least 5 years prior, are of particularly high quality and are renowned both nationally and internationally. Those wines undergo much stricter quality checks, must be sold in containers smaller than 5 liters and bear the mark of the Italian state, which guarantees its origin and quality and allows for bottles to be numbered.
Controlled Designation of Origin: after 1992, when the DOP, IGP and STG labels came into force in Europe, the DOC quality certification has been exclusively used to identify quality wines. The DOC certification is attributed to wines produced in limited areas (with a small to average surface) that have their own indication of geographic name. Usually, the name of the wine variety follows the name of the DOC; the method of production is very strict. DOC wines are cleared for sale only after in-depth chemical and sensory analysis.
Typical Geographical Indication: this label too, since 1992, is destined to wines that have a geographical indication (optionally followed by the name of the wine variety). This label is recognizable thanks to its vast areas of production, and a less strict method of production than the previous labels.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – IGP
Since 1998, oil production in Tuscany has been protected by an IGP label (Toscano IGP), whose procedural guidelines dictate that all phases of the production process (olives production and pressing, packaging) must take place within the borders of Tuscany. The olive cultivars are all indigenous: frantoio, leccino, moraiolo, maurino, leccio del corno, pendolino and correggiolo.
The color of this oil ranges from green to yellow (it can change over time); the smell is fruity with a slight tinge of almond, artichoke, ripe fruits; its taste is decidedly fruity. Acidity cannot exceed 0,6%. The Toscano IGP oil is ideal as a dressing for both raw and cooked (especially boiled) vegetables, soups, beans soups, grilled fish and meats.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Terre di Siena (Siena territory) DOP
The Terre di Siena oil is produced mainly from Frantoio, Correggiolo, Moraiolo and Leccino olive varieties: each must represent at least 10% of the total and combined should make up at least 85% of the oil. Other varieties can make up at most 15% of the total. The color of this oil ranges from green to yellow (it can change over time), its smell is fruity and its taste can be bitter and tangy. Acidity cannot exceed 0,5%. The extra virgin olive oil Terre di Siena must be produced only with healthy olives picked straight from the plants by December 31st, which are later preserved, if necessary, in a fresh and ventilated place for at most 3 days after picking, and finally transformed into oil during the 24 hours following the delivery to the olive oil mill. Uncooked, it is excellent as a dressing for salads and the typical Tuscan bean soups, for the ribollita, the Panzanella, the pinzimonio and the bruschetta. Cooked, it is fantastic for roasted meats, stews, and for deepfrying.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – DOCG
This wine is produced in Montepulciano, on hills ranging from 250 to 600 meters above sea level. The wine variety is the Sangiovese (which, in Montepulciano, gets the name of Prugnolo Gentile), constituting at least 70% of the wine. Characteristics: the color is ruby red, tending towards garnet red with aging. The aroma is intense, ethereal, characteristic. The taste is dry, balanced and lasting; it is possible to notice a wooden taste. Best aging: 2 years (12 to 24 months in wooden barrels). After three years of aging, the wine can be qualified as “riserva” (reserve).
It’s served at a temperature of 18° – 20°C; the bottle should be uncorked two hours before. The glass of preference is a wine glass for tannic, rich red wines.
Tuscan Pecorino – DOP
The Tuscan Pecorino – DOP is a cheese made from sheep’s milk; it exists in two varieties – fresh and aged. The rind of fresh pecorino can be yellow or straw-yellow; inside, it is white or very pale yellow, tender to the touch. The taste is fragrant and characteristic; it gets called “sweet”. Aged pecorino has a rind that can vary from yellow to very yellow, but since it can undergo a multitude of treatments (tomato, ashes, oil) the color can change to black or reddish. Inside, it is pale yellow; the taste is fragrant, intense, but never spicy.
Among the most famous typical Tuscan cheeses, the Pecorino di Pienza aged in Barrique (PAT) takes its name from the town of Pienza. It’s a cheese produced with raw milk from sheep of Sardinian breed; being free-range, they are fed with fodder from our lands, that are rich in wormwood, meadow salsify, juniper, bird’s-foot trefoil, and great burnet. This bouquet adds to the peculiar aroma of this pecorino.
It is aged in durmast barriques for at least 90 days. It can be matched to spicy mustards and Tuscan bread.
Pecorino aged in walnut leaves (PAT) is a specialty from Montefollonico, a town lying close to Montepulciano. The same production process as the Pecorino di Pienza applies, except for the aging that takes place in terracotta pots with walnut leaves, that confer a strong, slightly tannic flavor and the aroma of walnut leaves.
Cinta Senese – Dop
The Cinta Senese cured meats are typical to the province of Siena; they are produced using exclusively the meats of pure-bred Cinta Senese swine. This breed has a distinct marking on its coat, a sort of differently colored belt that separates back from abdomen (Cinta means Belt in Italian).
Among the cured meats obtained from meats of pure Cinta Senese swine, we can count:
- The Lard (lardo) di Cinta Senese, marinated in traditional marble tanks
- The salami (salame) di Cinta Senese, mixed with cubes of lard
- The Finocchiona di Cinta Senese, a type of salame obtained from ground pig meat, processed with salt and fennel seeds and stuffed in natural casing
- The seasoned ham (prosciutto crudo stagionato) di Cinta Senese, a whole pig thigh, complete with its bone, salted and aged for at least 12 months
- The Rigatino (bacon) di Cinta Senese, selected bacon from Cinta Senese swine
- The cheek (gota) di Cinta Senese: salted, aged cheek meat
- The aged sausage (salsiccia stagionata) di Cinta Senese: its aging process gives these sausages their typical characteristics.
Lombo Senese – PAT
The Lombo senese (Senese Sirloin), also known as lonzino or arista stagionata (aged pork loin), comes from swines butchered at an age from 12 to 15 months. It is refined and salted on wooden boards; later, the salt is removed and the meat is transferred to a refrigerating room. Afterwards the loins are moved back to the wooden boards, seasoned with pepper and packed in its traditional white paper. The aging happens in dedicated places, on wooden scaffoldings.
It’s the production method that gives the Lombo Senese its traditionality: the entire process, including the packaging, hasn’t changed since its origins. The Lombo Senese can also be recognized for its excellent quality and particular taste.
A good number of salami factories and norcinerie (pig meat butchers and workers) are involved in the production of the Lombo Senese.
Tuscan Bread – DOP
Tuscan bread is one of the main typical products in the field of bakery. The natural leavening, the low-temperature baking, the noteworthy sizing are some of the typical traits of Tuscan bread – but its main characteristic is its complete lack of salt. This is a long-standing consequence of the war between Pisa and Florence, which worsened during the 12th century and led to the block of the sale of salt in the inland. In retaliation, the inhabitants of Florence decided to start making bread without salt; Dante himself, two hundred years later, wrote in his Divine Comedy the following phrase (addressed to himself): “Thou shalt prove / how salt the savour is of other’s bread”. According to other sources, salt was simply too expensive, and so the inhabitants of Florence ended up not using it at all. Many of Tuscany’s typical recipes use stale bread (ribollita, pappa al pomodoro, acquacotta, panzanella, fettunta, and so on); those are born from the need to avoid food spoilage by all means necessary. This was also tied to the fact that religious traditions included blessing bread during Eastertime, so wasting it was also a religious misbehavior. All things considered, though, unsalted Tuscan bread goes very well with the very savory Tuscan cuisine, highlighting the flavor of many dishes. The process for requesting a DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta – Protected Designation of Origin) has been started, to guarantee that all of Tuscan bread’s typical traits are respected throughout Europe.
White steer of central Apennines – IGP
Among all the cattle breed protected by the Consortium, the Chianina is the one that benefits from a nobler, well-known image, partly thanks to the reputation it gained being the source meat for Florentine steaks (bistecche alla Fiorentina).
The Chianina can be recognized from its porcelain-white mantle, its short horns, its long, cylindrical trunk with vast back and flanks, and longer limbs than other breeds of cattle. It is the largest breed in the world: a Chianina bull, “Donetto”, at age 8 weighed 1.750 kg, a record that’s still unbroken.
The selection of meats privileges fine cuts, especially from the dorso-lumbar area: the meat in this zone is used for Florentine steaks.
To prepare this dish, the meat must come from a steer, possibly of Chianina breed and hanged for 5/6 days. The cut is of a T-bone steak, with filet, sirloin and a T-bone in the middle. This particular cut is hard to find outside Florence, and it basically doesn’t exist outside of Tuscany. Its weight ranges from 600 to 800 grams and is 2 inches thick.
Aglione – PAT
The Aglione (big garlic) of Valdichiana has been added to the regional and national list of traditional agricultural products. The requirement is having “methods of processing, preservation and aging consolidated by time that stay coherent in all the interested areas and follow traditional rules – for no less than 25 years.”
The Aglione’s main characteristics are: an aroma devoid of allin and its derivatives, a spicy scent, a taste far more delicate than that of regular garlic, an ivory white color, an almost spherical shape and the presence of six bulblets. This type of garlic can reach 800 grams in weight.