Tuscan Wine, A Quick Introduction
The Sangiovese Grape
In Tuscany the sangiovese grape dominates, 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.
Bordeaux Style Wines & The Tuscan Coast
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.
The Wine In Tuscany Grows Mainly In The Hills & Near The Coast
You’ll find that most of the wine growing areas are either in the hills or near the coast.
The Tuscan Coast
In the Tuscan Coastal Winegrowing Areas there is a mild climate. The summers are hot and dry but the heat is mitigated by coastal breezes. Winters are mild with a reasonable amount of rainfall.
The Tuscan Hills
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 up to the north of Tuscany. The hills start in the southern Maremma province, continue northwards to Montepulciano and Montalcino and on through the Chianti region and finally finish near Lucca. The soils are principally chalky clays which give the wines a complex structure.
Soil In Chianti
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.
The Soil On The Tuscan Coast
On the coast the clay is mixed with sand and, generally, a high mineral content is noticeable in the wines from this area.
Overlapping Wine Denominations
As in much of Italy, you’ll find that the various Tuscan 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 super tuscans 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.