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Decanter’s Dream Destination: Borgo San Vincenzo, Tuscany, Italy

Every month, Decanter selects a must-visit destination for wine travellers. Up next: understated luxury at Borgo San Vincenzo in Montepulciano, Tuscany.

Named one of the best new hotels of the year in Travel + Leisure’s 2023 It List, this restored 18th-century borgo is the embodiment of ‘approachable luxury’. American owners and seasoned hoteliers Scott and Shannon Kircher also own a hotel in the Caribbean, where they pride themselves on offering a ‘barefoot luxury’ experience. You’ll find the same ‘at home’, relaxed and informal vibe here – the size (21 rooms and suites) gives it an intimate feel, pop music plays in the restaurant, and Shannon and Scott enjoy stopping to chat with guests.

Don’t be fooled though. The hotel, which opened its doors in September 2022, and is named after the patron saint of winemaking, offers a level of comfort and service, and attention to detail, to rival the most upmarket hotels in the region. It’s not as flashy as some Tuscan hotels, and given the smaller scale you won’t find a spa or a choice of restaurants, but what’s there is perfectly done, and aimed very much at the discerning wine lover.

Tuscan countryside chic

The accommodation and communal areas have been styled in a rustic fashion, with beams and exposed brickwork featuring heavily, and olive green and neutral tones. Tuscan countryside chic. The area itself is relaxed too, off the well-trodden Tuscan tourist trail but not too far removed.

We’re in the heart of the Montepulciano wine region, around 10 minutes from the town of the same name  – UNESCO-recognised vineyard vistas stretch all around, particularly special viewed from the terrace with fire pit, drink in hand. The region, which has attracted investment from top names such as Antinori and Frescobaldi, is home to the famous Vino Nobile wines. Famous, but not as famous as Chianti or Brunello, point out the owners, who feel the region is sidelined even in wine courses specialising in Italy.

They’re passionate about introducing guests to local growers, and educating them in the wines of the area, and have linked up with the Wine Scholar Guild to provide a twice-yearly five-day ‘Tuscan Wine Week’, an opportunity for guests to learn about the wines of Montepulciano and the wider Tuscan region. The programme includes private tours and tastings, including visits to Montalcino, a five-course winemaker dinner, and a special session just on the wines of Montepulciano. Guests can dip in as they wish, paying for some or all of the activities.

Outside of the set Wine Weeks, winemaker dinners take place monthly, and the excellent concierge service can arrange visits to local growers as well as estates around Tuscany. Or guests can explore under their own steam, using the complimentary e-bikes for the closest wine estates. Boscarelli, just a stone’s throw away, has a working wine farm feel and a respected range of wines – don’t miss the straight Vino Nobile Riserva. Other estates open to tourists range from Avignonesi, which has an established hospitality programme, to La Combarbia, a one-man operation where the owner speaks no English but does receive visitors.

Explore local wines from your restaurant table

Beyond wine, guests can use the concierge service to book organic olive oil and pecorino cheese tastings at local farms, cooking and cocktail-making classes, and tours of the region by foot, horse, Vespa, or hot air balloon. Or if that all sounds too energetic, the pool deck is a suntrap, and just steps away from the glass-walled restaurant overlooking the gardens, Il Ciuchino, and the Flying Monk bar. You can always explore the wines of the area from your restaurant table – don’t miss the moreish white wine made from the rare Pulcinculo grape, found only in the Montepulciano region, or enjoy a wide choice of Tuscan reds with traditional dishes such as peposo, a hearty beef stew made with red wine and black pepper.

Franky, the talented and enthusiastic food and beverage director, has started working with the Coravin wine preservation system to provide a good line-up of by-the-glass options. He’s also planning wine flights, including verticals and themed groupings such as Sangiovese, in its red, white and rosé forms. He’s equally passionate about cocktails, and the list on offer at the bar includes classic serves alongside creative, seasonal craft cocktails. The goal is to make it the best bar between Rome and Florence, a destination in its own right.

It’s an attitude that permeates the whole hotel. Only in its second proper season, and as unshowy as it is, Borgo San Vincenzo is already making a name for itself, and on the evidence of recognition already won, it will only help bring more attention to the wines and estates of this lesser-known part of Tuscany.

See the Borgo San Vincenzo website for more details.

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