Viticulture in Toscana
Sangiovese dominates wine production in Tuscany, owing its success to high vigor, good adaptability, and the ability to produce extremely distinctive wines. It is followed by international grapes, which yield the highly successful Supertuscan wines.
Which are the grape varieties in Toscana?
- Sangiovese: Italy’s most widely planted red grape, Sangiovese dominates production in Tuscany, giving a wide number of different wines, including Chianti, Chianti Classico, Nobile di Montepulciano, and Brunello di Montalcino. Sangiovese-based wines tend to display a light ruby color, with aromas recalling freshly picked red fruits, violets, dried herbs, forest floor, and leather. Substantial tannins and crisp acidity make for a medium to full-bodied palate that starts youthfully racy and savory, and becomes softer with aging. Top-shelf Sangiovese ranks among the world’s age-worthiest wines.
- Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot are just as important in Tuscany as in their area of origin. From the 1970s onwards, they started growing in popularity, thanks to the commercial success of Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Solaia, and other Bordeaux-inspired wines from the Tuscan coast or the Chianti region. The late Giacomo Tachis, one of Italy’s most influential winemakers, takes credit for conceiving some of the above-mentioned wines.
- Trebbiano Toscano: Tuscany’s most widespread white grape. Often used for the production of simple and immediately-appealing white wines, it goes hand in hand with Malvasia del Chianti in the Vin Santo (sweet wine) blend.
- Vernaccia di San Gimignano: The other prominent native white grape, giving the namesake wine – either simple and gluggable or complex and bold when undergoing oak aging and sporting the Riserva category.
- Canaiolo Nero, Colorino, Malvasia Blend: Traditionally complementing Sangiovese in Chianti and other wines.
- Malvasia Bianca del Chianti: Used for sweet wines like Vin Santo.
- Syrah: another international that enjoys success in Tuscany. It thrives along the coast and in the inland Cortona area, giving full-bodied reds with signature spicy aromas.
- Ciliegiolo: The key native red grape in southern Tuscany, giving fruit-forward and easy-drinking reds.
- Vermentino: the most widely grown white grape on the Tuscan coast, giving zesty and herbal whites.
- Ansonica: a typical white grape of the Tuscan coast and Tuscan archipelago, giving wines with intense aromas of ripe orchard fruits and dried herbs. Mouthwatering alinity and a touch of astringency usually compensate for its low to moderate acidity.
What is a Supertuscan?
The term “Supertuscan” refers to the pioneering fine wines conceived between the 1960s and 1980s, which were often classified as “vino da tavola” (and then as Toscana IGT) due to regulations at the time making it difficult to produce quality DOC or DOCG wine. Invented by Nicholas Belfrage MW, a contributor of Decanter Magazine in the 1980s, the term is now used to define all Tuscan wines made with international grapes, including those from Bolgheri, which were granted DOC status from 1983 onwards.
Top-shelf, Sangiovese-based wines sporting the Toscana IGT appellation also fit in the Supertuscans category.
The most popular Supertuscans made with international grapes:
- Guado al Tasso
- L’ Apparita
- D’ Alceo
- Luce della Vite
The most popular Sangiovese-based Supertuscans:
- Flaccianello della Pieve
- Le Pergole Torte
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