The wines of the Tuscan universe
Oenological journey through one of the Italian regions from which wines with an extraordinary history, absolute specimens of taste and quality, originate.
When we say Tuscany, we immediately think of the great reds that have made the history of the region throughout the world, such as Brunello di Montalcino, Nobile di Montepulciano, Chianti Classico and the more recent Supertuscans. Wines marked by great ageing potential, often originating from Tuscan Sangiovese (the vine is also grown in Romagna, from whose soil some very interesting reds are produced today), through a myriad of clones created in the nurseries, or born from the mass selections of producers, as in the case of the mythical one, almost as famous as the Holy Grail, of Biondi Santi of the Il Greppo wine estate.
We owe the origin of the first Brunello di Montalcino to this ancient family of winegrowers, following those singular vinification experiments that led to the presentation to the public of the first bottle with its iconic name, chosen to celebrate its black berry grape in 1865. A red wine for great ageing, protected today by a strict production specification, for which a special commission meets every year to award up to 5 quality stars. Among the star vintages to treasure in the cellar are 2006, 2012 and the recent 2019.
Tuscany is not only red but also white wines, although these are often little known, especially abroad. Vermentino Toscano is almost everywhere, it has a robustness, compared to Sardinian Vermentino, that is more restrained, marked by aromas of white fruit, citrus and hints of almond. And then there is the Ansonica, an amazing grape variety in the Grosseto area, which appeals for the complexity of its bouquet and its suitability to every course of a meal. And what can we say of theVernaccia di San Giminiano? A white wine that is worthy of mention not only for its ancient history (even Dante mentions Vernaccia in his Purgatorio!), but also for being the first Italian wine to be designated DOC in 1966. Lastly, among the whites, we certainly cannot forget the Trebbiano Toscano, part of many of the region’s designations, both pure and blended.
Back to the more well-known red wines, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, like Brunello, is also the offspring of Sangiovese, with its own specific clone. The wine became internationally known thanks to the patronage of the aristocracy, only to be dethroned in the mid-19th century by Chianti, which replaced it in European courts. A red wine that Voltaire was also fond of, even mentioning it in 1759 in his Candide.
And now the Chianti, we need to specify that the most famous and valued one is the Chianti Classico, from an ancient area limited to just nine municipalities.A red with an ancient and glorious history, dating back as far as1716, when the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III, established its production boundaries between the provinces of Florence and Siena in a proclamation, effectively sanctioning the birth of the first wine denomination in the world. The symbol of Chianti Classico is the Black Rooster (if you have any doubts, do not worry, because it is written on the neck of bottles produced in this historic area), testifying to both the ancient Chianti Military League and the legend worthy of a medieval romance of chivalry. To put an end to disputes between the territories of Siena and Florence, two knights set out from their respective territories to the crowing of their rooster (white for the Siena people, black for the Florentines) and supposedly set the border between the two republics exactly at their meeting point. The Florentines proved their cunning nature by leaving their black rooster in the dark and on an empty stomach for many days, so much so that, when it was set free, it crowed well before the Siena one, thus granting its knight an exceptional advantage. In fact, this allowed the Florentine knight to meet his Sienese rival just twelve kilometres from Siena.
Then there is the Morellino di Scansano, the vines of which surround the hills of the town bearing the same name in the province of Grosseto, where the wines generally evolve more rapidly on average, compared to their more northern regional siblings.
Bolgheri Doc is the youngest denomination, but also one of the most famous across the border, thanks to the skilful use, in Tuscan soil, of international vines. The DOC Bolgheri Sassicaia, as we have already said, is the only Italian denomination entirely included in a single company, Tenuta San Guido. These wines are often also known as Supertuscan, as in the case of another fine example, Tignanello di Marchesi Antinori, as they combine the territoriality of Sangiovese with the internationality of allochthonous vines in a skilful blend.