Italy: Tuscany: Super Tuscans
Just What is a Super Tuscan?
Many, but not all "Super Tuscan" wines originate from the Chianti Classico region. The first Super Tuscan was Sassicaia, although the term was not in use at the time. This wine appeared commercially in 1968, even though the original vineyards were planted as early as 1944. Today, Sassicaia is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The estate is located outside the Chianti Classico region in Bolgheri, equidistant from Sienna and Florence, with vineyards on slopes that are only four-and-a-half miles from the sea at their closest point. Bolgheri benefits from a striking maritime climate that has given it great quality potential and the region has proven to be a hotbed for high-end Super Tuscans.
Inspired by Sassicaia, Piero Antinori and his winemaker created Tignanello in the early-70s. This Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese blend was designed to demonstrate the true potential of such combinations, which Chianti regulations would not permit. The rules were circumvented by labeling it not as a "Chianti," but as Vino da Tavola, or "table wine," even though the pricing was that of a premium wine. This opened the floodgates, and now virtually all major Chianti producers have a Super Tuscan label in their portfolio. The fashion has spread to unblended Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, and even Sangiovese. A significant feature of the production of Super Tuscan wines is aging in small French barriques, a global fashion adopted for most modern premium wines that is now being adopted more frequently for Chianti Classico Riserva bottlings. In this manner and many others, the emergence of Super Tuscan labels has served to greatly increase the quality of Chianti Classico through cross-fertilization of modern techniques with more traditional wine styles. As a result, Tuscany can now be looked to for some of the worlds most exciting and innovative super-premium wines!
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