Discover the Wines of Tuscany
Thursday, August 21, 2014 in News
Tuscany, with its picturesque rolling hills and medieval hilltop villages is Italy’s most famous wine region. A wine-lover’s paradise, it is home to several of Italy’s finest and best-known wines including Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino and Vin Santo.
Situated in central Italy, Tuscany is bordered by Emilia-Romagna to the north, Umbria to the south, Liguria to the north-west and Marche and Lazio to east. Here in this temperate climate, Sangiovese reigns being the dominant variety in all but one of Tuscany's seven red-wine DOCGs.
Cabernet Sauvignon has also come into prominence with the rise of the famous 'Super Tuscans', although traditional grape varieties still dominate the region.
Although it is most famous for its reds, Tuscany also produces delicious whites, including Vernaccia di San Gimignano. The region is also home to Vin Santo ('holy wine') a deliciously complex dessert wine produced from air-dried grapes.
Langton’s has a diverse range of wines from Tuscany ready for you to discover. View our full range here.
Below is a quick guide to Tuscany’s best known appellations.
Chianti is Tuscany’s most famous wine. The largest zone in Tuscany, Chianti DOCG covers an area of 25,000ha. A warm and sunny area with a large range of soil types and topography, the Chianti zone encompasses six important sub-zones which are often indicated on the label; Chianti Colline Pisane, Chianti dei Colli Aretini, Chianti dei Colli Fiorentini, Chianti dei Colli Senesi, Chianti Montalbano and Chianti Rufina. Chianti wines are either entirely Sangiovese or Sangiovese dominant blends with minor components of one or more of Canaiolo, Trebbiano, Malvasia, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot permitted in the blend. Knowing good producers is the key to finding the best wines of this region. The best Chianti should have expressive fragrant aromas, sour cherry and plum fruit, herbs and tobacco with grippy tannin and fresh acidity. These are amongst the world’s best food wines.
Chianti Classico DOCG
Scenically beautiful, Chianti Classico lies at the very heart of Chianti and produces some of Tuscany’s best wines. Located between Florence and Sienna, the appellation spans an area of 7200ha of gently rolling hills with vineyards planted between 250-800m altitude. The wines are Sangiovese or Sangiovese dominant blends with up to 20% permitted Tuscan red varieties permitted. Chianti Classico wines should have expressive fragrant aromas, sour cherry and plum fruit, herbs, tobacco, savoury mushroom flavours with grippy tannin and fresh acidity. Modern styles may have more obvious new oak characters while the Riserva and Superiore wines have greater richness due to riper fruit and longer maturation times. All Chianti Classico DOCG wine bottles carry the regional Logo of the black rooster.
Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
Intense and powerful, Brunello di Montalcino is one of Italy’s great wines. The DOCG spans 1200 ha of hilly vineyard area surrounding the medieval fortress town of Montalcino in central Tuscany. The area is surrounded by forests and enjoys warmer temperatures moderated by sea breezes. Brunello di Montalcino is made entirely from Sangiovese. Classic examples are well-concentrated with dark cherry, tobacco, herbs and savoury richness with abundant tannins and balanced acidity. The wines are required to age for 4 years before release and must have at least 2 years in oak. Highly sought-after and extremely age-worthy, the wines of Brunello di Montalcino gain complexity with maturation and are often at their best at around 10 years of age.
Rosso di Montalcino DOC
These wines have the same vineyard zone as Brunello di Montalcino but the wines are produced in an earlier drinking style. Made entirely from Sangiovese, Rosso wines are aged for a minimum of one year before release. Classic Rosso di Montalcino has similar aromas to Brunello namely of cherry, plum, and herbs but is considerably fresher, lighter and less intense in style, more suitable to earlier drinking.
The Toscana IGT designation covers all the wine zones of Tuscany and allows wine growers and makers a greater freedom of style than permitted under the DOC and DOCG regulations. Wines can be made in any style, blend, varieties or ageing regime. The only stipulations are that the wine bears the vintage and the name of the producer and if varietally labelled must contain 85% of that variety. The grapes must also grow within the Tuscany region. This is the current classification for most of the “Super Tuscan” (non traditional blends or Styles) wines with the exception of the Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC and the Sant’Antimo DOC. This classification has allowed some very exciting contemporary wines to develop, alongside the more traditional styles of the region.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG
Vernaccia di San Gimignano is Tuscany’s most famous white wine and is grown around the medieval fortress town of San Gimignano, between Florence and Sienna. The wine is made of at least 90% Vernaccia with the balance being Trebbiano or Malvasia. Vernaccia di San Gimignano can be full bodied and dry, with honey, floral aromas and notes of apples and almond. The best wines of the appellation typically exhibit great minerality and flinty acidity. There are also contemporary styles made with oak imparting complexity, creaminess and attractive toasty richness.
Vin Santo del Chianti DOC
This is the delicious and complex dessert wine of Tuscany made using the Passito (dried grape) method. Grapes are dried on the vine or on drying racks for several months to concentrate the sugars and flavours. The syrupy juice of these grapes is then placed in small oak barrels to slowly ferment. Fermentation can take years to complete due to the high sugar concentration in the must, during which time the wines undergo a slow oxidative maturation. The resulting wines are rich, amber coloured with complex nutty, toffee, apricot and honey flavours. The main grapes used are Trebbiano and Malvasia although other local whites and some red varieties can be used which produces a pink hue to the Vin Santo wine. These wines are 15-16% alcohol and medium sweet-sweet styles. These wines are beautiful with coffee and biscotti or cheese and dried fruits.