Tuscan Wine, A Quick Introduction
In Tuscany the sangiovese grape is king, the famous wine growing areas of Montepulciano (Vino Nobile di Montepulciano), Montalcino (Brunello di Montalcino), Chianti and Scansano (Morellino di Scansano) all base their wines on this grape. Sangiovese is one of world’s great grapes. it produces wines with high acidity, alcohol and tannin – perfect for ageing. In recent decades the Tuscan coastal area of Bolgheri has become renowned for award winning bordeaux style blends of cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and merlot that command suitably high prices.
Most of the wine growing areas are hilly, near the coast (Tuscan Coastal Winegrowing Areas) there is a mild climate with hot, dry summers mitigated by coastal breezes and mild winters with a reasonable amount of rainfall.
Further inland, (Central Wine Growing Areas In Tuscany) the climate is more continental, the summers are hot and dry and the winters colder with higher rainfall than at the coast. The chain of hills that comprise this area run from the southern coastal region, the Maremma, continuing to Montepulciano and Montalcino, on through the Chianti region and finish near Lucca in the north of Tuscany. The soils are principally chalky clays which give the wines a complex structure.
Around the Chianti region the soils have small rocks known as alberese (small chalk stones) and galestro, a crumbly clay rock that give longevity and elegance to the wines. On the coast the clay is mixed with sand and, generally, a high mineral content is noticeable in the wines from this area.
As in much of Italy, the various DOC and DOCG zones often overlap, for example producers of Brunello di Montalcino DOCG and Montepulciano DOCG could, if they wished to and followed the appropriate rules, release their wines as Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG.
Tuscany has also become famous for the “Super Tuscan“, expensive and high quality wines that are made outside the local DOC or DOCG rules, often using international grape varieties such as cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot, sometimes with the addition of sangiovese and sometimes without. However, when dealing with wine in Italy, nothing is simple and there are a few supertuscans that are actually pure sangiovese.
Tuscany is also famous for Vin Santo, a complex dessert wine made from air dried grapes that is often served with cantucci biscuits after a meal.