Super Tuscan

antinori

The term ‘Super Tuscan‘ describes any Tuscan red wine that does not adhere to traditional blending laws for the region. For example, Chianti Classico wines are made from a blend of grapes with Sangiovese as the dominant variety in the blend. Super Tuscans often use other grapes, especially cabernet sauvignon, making them ineligible for classification under the traditional rules.

In 1968 Azienda Agricola San Felice produced the first ever ‘Super Tuscan’ called Vigorello, and in the 1970s Piero Antinori, whose family had been making wine for more than 600 years, also decided to make a richer wine by eliminating the white grapes from the Chianti blend, and instead adding Bordeaux varietals (namely, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot).

He was inspired by a little-known (at the time) Cabernet Sauvignon made by relatives called Sassicaia, which openly flouted the rules set down for traditional wines in Tuscany. The result was one of the first Super Tuscans, which he named Tignanello, after the vineyard where the grapes were grown. Other winemakers started experimenting with Super Tuscan blends of their own shortly thereafter. Because these wines did not conform to strict classifications, they were initially labeled as vino da tavola, meaning ‘table wine,’ a term ordinarily reserved for lower quality wines. The creation of the Indicazione Geografica Tipica category (technically indicating a level of quality between vino da tavola and DOCG) helped bring Super Tuscans ‘back into the fold’ from a regulatory standpoint.

Since the pioneering work of the super-Tuscans there has been a rapid expansion in production of high-quality wines throughout Italy that do not qualify for DOC or DOCG classification, as a result of the efforts of a new generation of Italian wine producers and, in some cases, ‘flying winemakers.’

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