Wine region Tuscany
Tuscany extends from the Apennines to the Ligurian coast. This region in the heart of Italy is one of the oldest European wine-growing regions. From the traditional Chianti Classico to more modern creations such as Ornellaia and Sassicaia, red wines from Tuscany are always among the stars of national and international tastings.
Climate and soils in Tuscany - a home game for the Sangiovese grape
While the coastal region and valleys of Tuscany are characterised by a moderate and dry Mediterranean climate, the slopes of the Apennines are influenced by continental weather conditions with cold winters, hot summers and abundant rainfall. For example, the vineyards of the Chianti region are up to 700 metres above sea level - a circumstance that is particularly favourable to the cultivation of the late ripening Sangiovese grape.
Different soil conditions such as sandstone or loose, calcareous marl subsoils, but also loam with a low lime content and fine gravel soils with a high sand content offer the versatile vine the opportunity to develop its great potential of nuanced aromas.
Wine styles and grape varieties and of Tuscany
The famous Reds
Almost 64,000 hectares of vineyards unite Tuscany - and Sangiovese as far as the eye can see. There are few wines with DOCG status in Tuscany in which the autochthonous grape variety is not mixed. More than three-quarters of the Chianti vineyards are planted with the strong, high-yielding noble grape; at least four-fifths of a Chianti Classico DOCG must be made from Sangiovese.
Regional varieties of Sangiovese grapes serve as the basis for many famous classics, including
- Brunello (also called Sangiovese Grosso or Sangioveto), the only grape variety approved for Brunello di Montalcino DOCG and Rosso di Montalcino DOC,
- Prugnolo gentile in the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG (sweet wine)
- Morellino at the Morellino di Scansano DOCG.
The Sangiovese produces well-structured, tangy, acidic wines, mostly light red in colour. Traditionally it is blended with the local grape varieties Canaiolo Nero, Ciliegiolo or Colorino. Grapes originating from France such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah grow mainly in the southern coastal region of Maremma, the home of the Supertuscans (see below).
In nine of the eleven Tuscan DOCGs, Sangiovese shares of up to 95 percent are prescribed. The exceptions include:
- Elba Aleatico Passito DOCG, a dessert wine made purely from Aleatico grapes and
- Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG, a white wine produced from 85 to 100 percent of the grape of the same name
The white grapes of Tuscany
Vernaccia di San Gimignano is the most important white grape variety in Tuscany. It is cultivated northwest of Siena around the medieval "city of towers" of San Gimignano.
It also plays an important role among the native white grape varieties:
- Trebbiano Toscano, the main variety of Galestro, Vin Santo del Chianti and del Chianti Classico,
- Malvasia Bianca Lunga (Vin Santo),
- Moscato Bianco (Moscadello di Montalcino)
Worth knowing facts about the Tuscany
What is the difference between DOC and DOCG?
DOC stands for "Denominazione di Origine Controllata" (controlled designation of origin) and is the second highest, state-defined quality level for Italian wines. Location and grape variety, yield per hectare of vineyard, alcohol content and barrel maturation all play a role in the classification. For the highest level, "Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita" (DOCG), even stricter criteria apply. Among other things, even lower yields and even longer barrel maturation are required. A numbered state seal of approval is emblazoned on the neck of every bottle of DOCG wine. Tuscany is home to 11 of the 73 Italian DOCG wines and 41 of the country's 334 DOC wines.
What are supertuscans?
From revolution to market niche: in 1971 the experiment-loving Marchese Piero Antinori, wine entrepreneur and winemaker in the 26th generation, developed the Tignanello together with the oenologist Giacomo Tachis. As a cuvée of native Sangiovese and French Cabernet Sauvignon, both matured separately in barriques Bordeaux-style, the top-class red wine was "untypical of the region" for Tuscany and thus violated the regulations of the Italian wine growing law twice. The Tignanello immediately caused a furore internationally, but due to the rule violations it was initially only allowed to be traded as Vino da Tavola. With Ornellaia, Masseto, Monteverro and Sassicaia, further Supertuscans grew up. Only one has been awarded a DOC (Bolgheri, subzone Sassicaia). For those who would like to treat themselves to the pleasure of an encounter with an authentic Tuscan cult wine, the Tignanello Toscana IGT from the Tenuta Tignanello (Antinori) is recommended.
When do we speak of Chianti Classico, when of Chianti Riserva?
Similar to Valpolicella Classico or Soave Classico, Chianti Classico refers to the historical core area of a region. Originally, Chianti consisted only of today's Classico DOCG, but since 1932 seven more DOCGs have been added. The Chianti Classico DOCG is subject to stricter production regulations than the other Chianti wines:
- It must be made of Sangiovese at least 80 percent (other DOCGs in Tuscany: 70 to 75 percent).
- The addition of white grape varieties is not permitted for Classico DOCG, the only Chianti.
- The sale of Chianti Classico is permitted at the earliest on 1 October of the year following the year of harvest.
- The alcohol content must be at least 12 percent.
"Riserva" refers to a longer maturation period than the standard version. A Chianti Riserva DOCG is stored for at least two years from January 1 following the year of harvest. For example, Lucarello Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG from the Borgo Salcetino winery spends 24 months in wooden barrels, followed by several months in the bottle.
Order Tuscany wines online at VINELLO
Have you got the desire to create your own tour of discovery through Tuscany? Just browse through our product range - VINELLO has many wonderful classics and exciting new discoveries in its program. Discover the variety of wines and also benefit from our sommelier advice. Secure purchasing and guaranteed prompt delivery ensure that your journey of enjoyment can begin quickly and lead you directly to the pleasure of wine.