Italian wine regions (III) - Tuscany

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Tuscany, or Toscana in Italian, is perhaps the most well-known wine region in Italy. Sangiovese is the dominant grape variety in the region, and is responsible for arguably Italy’s most famous wine – Chianti.

Tuscany’s two richest and most expensive red wines, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, are also made from Sangiovese.

The Chianti area is situated between Florence and Siena in Central Italy and is known for producing accessible sour-cherry flavour red wines made mainly from Sangiovese. Since 20% of the blend can be other grapes (and for a while, only white grapes), red wines produced in Chianti vary in style and quality. Chianti Classico is the heart of this area, producing the top-quality Chiantis with excellent aging potential.

Brunello di Montalcino is a Sangiovese-only DOCG. In Montalcino, the word “Brunello” is actually the local name for the Sangiovese grape. This wine didn’t come into existence until the 1880s, but with its richness, firm tannin, exceptionally long barrel aging period (minimum 48 months) and outstanding aging potential, it’s considered one of the finest and most “serious” Tuscan red wines.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is another Sangiovese-based wine produced in Montepulciano. Like Brunello di Montalcino, this wine is very rich and high in alcohol, but is considered less aromatic and elegant than the best of Chianti and Brunello.

Tuscany is also home to the famous “Super-Tuscans”. In the beginning, these wines were made using more international grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and used experimental techniques which broke DOC rules, meaning wine could only be classified as Vino da Tavola (table wines).

Although produced in small amount, the Super-Tuscan wines gained international recognition for their modern style and fine quality, and today are normally sold at very high prices. Nowadays as the DOC rules change, many of them have become DOCs or IGTs, but are still considered to embody the pioneering spirit of Italian viticulture.

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