Super Tuscan wine shook Italian winemaking to the very core and shocked the establishment when members of the Antinori family burst onto the international scene in the 1970s with some of the very best Tuscan wines, or possibly even some of the best wines ever produced anywhere.
The regulatory powers that were at the time didn’t know what to do these wines, such as Sassicaia and Ornellaia, whose only crime was that they were (and most but not all continue to be) made from predominantly Bordeaux grape varieties that ripen to perfection on the Tuscan coast around Bolgheri. The Super Tuscan pioneers were frustrated by restrictive regulations, such as having to use white varieties in a red blend and also dared to go against the Sangiovese grain. These brave visionaries noticed how well the Bordeaux varieties ripen in Bolgheri, probably even better than in Bordeaux itself, thanks to the moderating influence of the Mediterranean.
Tignanello turned the tide in some way showing that Sangiovese from Chianti Classico can also be a key player in the Super Tuscan party, by ageing the wine in small oak barrels instead of the usual large Slavonian oak botti, and blending it with French varietals and not white grapes, the latter long having been standard practice.
The Super Tuscans were initially classified as Vino da Tavola, yet these ‘table wines’ were fit for the table of a king. They are still only granted DOC status, which was given in 1994, but they rank among the finest wines of Italy, and indeed the world. They were and continue to be some of the very best Tuscan wines.
Super Tuscan wine, which is made especially from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but can include other French favourites as well as the local Sangiovese, also seduced the palates of leading wine critics and wine lovers, and things have never quite been the same since. While general tastes are demanding more emphasis on a region’s indigenous grapes, the popularity of Super Tuscan wine show no signs of abating. In fact, most Chianti Classico producers of any size seek to grab their share of the Super Tuscan pie and often have a couple of these wines in their portfolios. Investment has piled into vineyards around Bolgheri and neighbouring Castagneto Carducci, with players from other wine regions, such as Piemontese legend Angelo Gaja getting in on the action.
Sassicaia is made from only Cabernet Sauvignon and was considered so special that it was granted its own DOC in 1994, although you can also find single varietal Merlot among the best Super Tuscan wines. A great example is Masseto, which comes from a 7-hectare vineyard of same name yet it comprise three different types of soils.
The next generation of Super Tuscans from other parts of the Maremma, once a swampy area that was drained and reclaimed by Mussolini, represent excellent bang for the buck.
Our team of local experts will take you to walk through the vineyards that produce the best best Super Tuscan wines. They will show you where the grapes grow and the factors that influence how the characteristics of those grapes form through their interaction with the terrific terroir. Our local experts will then lead you into the cellar to see how winemakers impart their influence on the final product. You will then taste the wines from the different Super Tuscan hotspots in tutored tastings of the best super Tuscan wines.
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