Super Tuscan: Quality Wine Made Outside The DOC / DOCG Rules
Super Tuscan is the term given to the well made, expensive and sought after wines that are made outside of the DOC / DOCG rules. The first, in 1968, was Vigorello di San Felice a wine made from 100% sangiovese in the heart of the Chianti Classico area. At the time it was not permitted to make an unblended sangiovese and call it Chianti so the wine had to be labelled as Vino da Tavola. In 1970 Tiganello was the next to gain fame, produced in the Chianti Classico zone it is a blend of sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc. The other really famous Super Tuscan, Sassicaia, first released in 1971, is produced in the Bolgheri region near the coast and is at least 80% cabernet sauvignon. Today it has its own single estate DOC, Sassicaia Bolgheri DOC, so, if you are feeling really pedantic, it can no longer be called a Super Tuscan.
If you spend time visiting vineyards in Tuscany, you will find that many producers make at least one high quality (and expensive) wine that is made outside the local DOC or DOCG rules. They will be released as IGT wines and often feature international grapes such as merlot, carbernet franc, petit verdot and cabernet sauvignon, however, many will still be a blend of sangiovese with international grapes and some are even pure sangiovese. Usually these wines will be aged in the smaller barrels known as barriques which give more pronounced oak flavours and aromas to the wine. The high price commanded by these wines has led to new vineyards being developed, particularly in coastal areas which seem particularly suited to Bordeaux style blends.