Quality Wines, Carved in the Landscape
The verdant rolling hills of the Toscana (Tuscany), with its sunkissed Mediterranean climate, ushered in by the Tyrrhenian Sea to the West, and the ample range of altitude afforded by the oscillating landscape, ensure a favourable climate for the cultivation and production of wine. From the classic Chianti to vibrant Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, the crisp Vernaccia to the sweet Vin Santo, Tuscany is somewhat of a powerhouse in Italy’s formidable wine industry, with the quaint vineyards that pepper the landscape responsible for some of the nation’s finest vino exports.
Tuscany is among Italy’s leading producers of DOC and DOCG quality wines, behind Piedmont and Veneto. Though the land is well cultivated, Tuscan soil is in fact quite poor for wine production - this means producers must work to achieve a high-quality grape, often at the expense of yield. That being said, a lesser yield often results in a more consistent and expertly crafted wine.
The main grape varietal that flourishes in Tuscany is the Sangiovese - nurtured by the aforementioned unique landscape, the grape thrives in direct sunlight, a vantage point afforded by the higher elevations of the Tuscan terrain. For this reason, the majority of Tuscany’s vineyards reside at altitudes of around 150 - 500 meters above sea level. Such terrain also works to temper the climate of the region, aiding the balance of sugars and acidity in the grape.
Though the Sangiovese grape is the pride of Tuscany, the region is also home to a number of other varieties, including the Cabernet, Canaiolo, Colorino and Merlot grape, nurtured throughout Toscana.
Tuscany’s Most Famous Reds:
Perhaps the most famous of Tuscany’s wine exports, Chianti is sometimes referred to as the ‘Bordeaux of Italy’ - a nod to its esteemed status and popularity. Though early records infer Chianti was initially produced as white wine, the much-loved modern iteration is a red blend, consisting primarily of Sangiovese clone grapes. The wine can vary greatly in flavour and aroma profiles, though common notes include raspberry, cherry, oregano and sage, and a slight astringency with light acidity. The translucent, ruby wine pairs excellently with food, due to the savoury notes and acidity present. That, combined with the dry tannins in the wine, ensure the wine is a great accompaniment to fattier red meats, or indulgent, tomato-based ragus and pizza.
Chianti Classico Riserva is a prized version of Chianti that is aged in oak barrels for a minimum of 2 years, with a further three months of ageing in-bottle. This process lends a deeper flavour to the wine, with common notes including blackberries, cocoa and spices. Likewise, Chianti Classico Riserva pairs stunningly with savoury foods, particularly rich red meat-based dishes.
Brunello di Montalcino
The Brunello di Montalcino is comprised of the Brunello clone of the Sangiovese grape, known as being on the more complex and rich end of Sangiovese clones. This DOGC protected red is produced in the vineyards on the outskirts of Montalcino, in Siena. Brunello di Montalcino is known to age especially well, and is revered as one of Italy’s finest (and most expensive!) wines. Common notes include leather, plums and spices. The tannic nature of this wine means it pairs excellently with red meat or game, like wild boar or rabbit.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is made from the Prugnolo di Montepulciano clone of Sangiovese along with a mix of other varieties, often including the Canaiolo variety. Produced in the vineyards surrounding the Tuscan town of Montepulciano, this wine is not to be confused with Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, a popular red made of the Montepulciano grape, produced in Abruzzo, just east of Rome. Common notes range from chocolate and dried fruits with herbal and slightly floral notes. This wine pairs beautifully with a sharp cheese like Pecorino.
Super Tuscans are wines produced in the region, often cultivated in the coastal area of Maremma. Traditionally, Super Tuscans do not fit into the DOC/DOCG regulations for wines from the region, allowing winemakers to experiment with alternative grape varieties and different fermentation techniques. That being said, as Super Tuscans have gained some regard in the wine community, some have since earned the revered DOC/DOCG classification. Super Tuscans often feature Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot grapes, and are known to age well.
Our Wine Recommendations:
Le Bèrne - Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 2015
This is a bold dry red wine with medium tannins and moderate acidity. There are hints of vanilla, oak, and leather along with cherry and other red fruits and a slight smokiness. This wine will age well and will pair well with red meat dishes.
Il Conventino - Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2015
This slightly off-dry red wine has moderate tannins and noticeable acidity. Red fruits - cherry and raspberry - along with moderate earthy and oaky characters are present in this wine. As a bold red wine, it pairs well with decadent meat dishes.
Banfi - Poggio alle Mura Rosso di Montalcino 2014
This dry red from Montalcino had medium tannins and acidity with strong cherry notes and slight floral aromas. It pairs well with cured meats as well as other meat dishes.
Fèlsina - Berardenga Chianti Classico 2015
This Chianti Classico is slightly off-dry with bright acidity and moderate tannins. Red and black fruit notes characterize this wine, along with vanilla, leather, and slight tobacco notes. It pairs well with beef, veal, and poultry dishes.
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One thought on “Everything You Need to Know About Tuscan Wine”
Many years ago – 1970 to be precise! My wife and I spent our honeymoon in Italy – one week in Florence and one week on Elba and have been Italophiles (is that even a word?) ever since.My wife was a great cook,we both enjoyed good food and wine and Italy was always a favourite! Sadly my wife died 3 years ago so your meals remind me of so many happy times! I can still enjoy Chianti and Nero d’Avola from Sicily among others!