What are we talking about when we say Super Tuscans?
A conversation about Tuscany (Italy) is undoubtedly a journey through a region of astonishing natural and unique cultural beauty, rich in history, art and breathtaking landscapes, covered with lush hills of vineyards and olive groves, cypresses and sunflowers.
Tuscany is one of the most famous and romantic wine regions in the world. Here, in the 1970s, the “Super Tuscans” were born. And we’re not talking about superheroes with special powers, rather these are wines with particular characteristics that are now recognised and sought after around the world for their high quality.
Would you like to know more? Let us explain.
Tuscany is the birthplace of the Sangiovese variety, whose name means “the blood of Jupiter”. As well as being the most cultivated variety in Italy, this is a historic grape of the region, and is used to make the famous Chianti wines.
Originally, these wines were white, according to their first appearance in records dating back to the 14th century. It was later that winemakers focussed on the Sangiovese grape for winemaking.
In the 18th century, a group of winegrowers decided to form the “Lega del Chianti”, whose symbol is the famous “gallo nero” (black rooster),to limit production and protect themselves from competition. This could be considered the first antecedent of what is now the denomination of origin. Currently, Chianti is produced in eight denominations, the D.O.C.G. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) Chianti Classico being the best known.
During the 1970s Tuscany fell into crisis and a group of winegrowers decided to plant typical Bordeaux varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Tuscany’s denomination system is as strict as it is complex, so wines made from Sangiovese in coupages that included French varieties couldn’t even aspire to be classified under the Chianti denomination, even if they were of excellent quality.
The winegrowers weren’t satisfied with releasing their wines under the “vino da tavola” (table wine) label so they adopted the name Super Tuscan wines.
As well as making Sangiovese coupages with French varieties, these innovative winemakers began experimenting with modern winemaking techniques and Bordeaux-style aging practices that definitely challenged the established norms of the time. This gave rise to great wines that quickly became the flagship of the new Super Tuscans: Sassiscaia and Tignanello, two iconic red wines with worldwide recognition.
What are Super Tuscan wines like?
As we’ve already said, one of the main characteristics of Super Tuscan wines is that they are made with the Sangiovese grape accompanied by classic Bordeaux (France) coupage varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot. These are full-bodied wines that combine elegance and structure and are often bolder than traditional Tuscan reds. These wines have good aging potential and stand out for their focus on quality and excellence.
Due to strict wine regulations, for years they were labelled as “vino da tavola”, but finally in 1995, IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) was created for this new category of high quality wines.
Super Tuscans around the world
Over the decades, Super Tuscan wines have gained international recognition and appreciation.
People say that Robert Parker, the American wine guru, contributed to their success, as these new Tuscan wines were in line with the style of wine (lots of ripe fruit, rich in elegant tannins and barrel-aged, Bordeaux-style) that he used to promote in his “The Wine Advocate” guide.
What is clear is that the exceptional quality, unique character and ability to defy traditional norms have seduced wine lovers around the world.
Many of these wines have gained high ratings and recognition from specialist critics and leading publications, which has contributed to their prestige and demand.
Reds like Sassiscaia or Tignanello are true cult wines.
Super Tuscan wines represent an exciting and daring evolution in the Tuscan winemaking tradition. Their ability to combine the excellence of French grape varieties with the authenticity of the Sangiovese grape has led to the creation of memorable wines of extraordinary longevity.
If you are a wine lover looking for new experiences and flavours, don’t hesitate to explore the wonderful world of Super Tuscan wines. These wines will take you on a journey of discovery and sensory pleasure that you will never forget! Wines with a French spirit, with all the charm and the seductive Mediterranean power of Tuscany.