Tuscan Treasures: Famous Reds, But White Wines Too, from Italy´s Most Celebrated Region

Those famous, stunning rolling golden hills of Tuscany also determine an ideal Mediterranean climate for wine grape growing unsurpassed by any other. Sangiovese and Chianti are the monarchs, but Tuscany produces a range of wines that deserve attention. It has a perhaps bewildering array of 41 DOC and 11 DOCG designations and six more flexible IGP/IGT appellations, with the regional Toscana IGP representing almost a quarter of total production, including the Super Tuscans. While unremarkable Trebbiano dominates the white wine category there are also wines made from Ansonaco, Malvasia, Vermentino, Vernaccia, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and even Viognier. Unforgettable Vin Santo made using the passito technique holds strong as well.

What is Tuscany´s Terroir?

Tuscany´s climate and topography are critical to top quality winemaking. Only eight percent of Tuscany is classified as flatlands, and it boasts an astounding 57,942 hectares under vine.  It is bordered to the northwest by Liguria and to the north by Emilia-Romagna, with Umbria and Lazio on the eastern and southern borders, respectively. To the west is the Tyrrhenian Sea which gives the area a warm Mediterranean climate. The hilly terrain progresses inward from the Sea to the Apennine Mountains along the border with Emilia-Romagna. These elevations moderate the summertime heat, particularly through the big difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures, and many vineyards of the best vineyards are planted on the higher elevations. The majority of the region's vineyards are found at altitudes of 500–1600 feet (150–500 meters) above sea level. The diurnal temperature variation causes the grapes to provide a superb balance of sugar and acidity as well as phenolics for the wine´s aromatic qualities.

In addition to Chianti and Chianti Classico, the red wine appellations to always keep in mind are Sangiovese-based Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, made near the hill town of Montepulciano, and the 100% Sangiovese Brunello di Montalcino, another world-class red that vies with Barolo for the reputation of Italy’s finest and most age-worthy wine.

Tuscan Red and White Wines to Order Online

The represent the spectrum of Tuscany´s wines to buy online, here are a few suggestions:

Brunello wines earned the highest DOCG classification. The Sangiovese grapes grown in this appellation have thicker skins, which release flavor and color compounds into the resulting wine, producing  wonderful and bold fruit flavors along with high levels of tannins and acidity. These are wines to lay down. A perfect example is the 2016 Capanna Brunello di Montalcino, which scored 96 points from Jeb Dunnuck and 95 points from James Suckling, who  found “gorgeous aromas of black cherry, cedar, leather and dried flowers follow through to a full body.”

Vermentino white wines are not traditionally associated with Tuscany, but the local terroir near the coast nevertheless produces excellent examples. Vermentino di Toscana wines boast a straw yellow color with light green and gold reflections. The 2020 Aia Vecchia Vermentino represents a great value, with a bouquet grapefruit, freshly-cut grass, and hints of salt air. On the palate, the wine has a creamy and round mouthfeel with bright acidity accompanied by hints of limestone and a slight earthiness. The finish is lengthy, dry and refreshing." Another intriguing Tuscan white wine is from the Island of Giglio. The 2019 Altura Isola del Giglio Ansonaco Carfagna Maremma Toscana is an intense and robust wine made from Ansonaco, featuring citrus, apricot, and honey aromas.

Chianti Classico is a DOCG subregion of Chianti. with grapes sourced from vineyards planted at higher elevations than Chianti DOCG. The 2016 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Vigna del Sorbo is iconic of this terroir. Made from grapes of a single vineyard of Sangiovese, this wine  bursts with fruit intensity including aromas of cherry, plum, fresh violets and tilled earth. Wine Advocate says, “tar, tobacco and licorice appear as delicate background tones, giving more volume and texture to the wine's sensorial impact.”

Finally, I will recommend one super-classic Super Tuscan, a phrase that Tuscan wines that most often include non-indigenous grapes, particularly Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon but also including Cabernet Franc and Syrah. The 2017 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia represents the most famous of them all. A blend of 85% Cab Sauv and 15% Cab Franc, this best red wine from Tuscany got 97 point from Wine Enthusiast. It´s described as boasting aromas of exotic spices, baked plums, camphor and blue flowers.  “This boasts extraordinary elegance and freshness despite the hot vintage, delivering flavors of juicy Marasca cherry, spiced blueberry, tobacco and licorice. Velvety, fine-grained tannins provide support while coffee and crushed mint linger on the finish.” You can buy this and other Tuscan wines online for shipping across the USA!

Written By: - Charlie Leary

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