What are Super Tuscan wines?

Super tuscan wine. There is still a good degree of confusion behind the use of the term Super tuscan wine. Confusion that is well justified when we consider the variations of the theme that this term englobes in its use and, therefore, its meaning in a practical way.

As just mentioned, the word Super tuscan wine describes a theme, or we could say a style of wine and it is not a classification by any official standards, let alone the Italian one. So much so that we will never find this word printed on a label. Yet it is widely recognised and used: it appears on the wine lists of many fine restaurants and we can often find that, especially overseas, that is outside of Italy, where Super tuscans are produced, there are many wine shops with a section or a shelf that are specifically dedicated to these wines.

Let’s try to lay some simple bases to learn what to expect from a wine that is offered or promoted as a Super tuscan wine.

The first thing that this term expresses is obviously the geographical origin of the wine: Tuscany, but this is the easy part.

The other thing that we should expect this wine to offer, still based on the actual name, is something quite special, or “Super” and this is where interpretation could lead astray.

The fact that this term is not an official name implies that there are no strict rules that producers should follow and this is possibly the reason that these wines can be very different in terms of varieties used. For the most part these so-called Super tuscans wine belong to the IGT category of the Italian Wine Classification System, which means that the entire production process, right from growing the grapes to bottling the wine must occur within the boundaries of Tuscany but this does not impose any restrictions on blending or ageing. In a way, this is the beauty of the IGT world: it recognises geographical identity while still leaving a lot of freedom to express one’s creativity. So how do we narrow it down?

Essentially by focusing on that “super” part of the name, the style. A Super tuscan will always be a wine offering full body and great complexity along with particular smoothness. This is what makes these wines so suitable for enjoying just as a drink. Thanks to their great body and complexity they are capable of entertaining both one’s palate and nose on their own, without the support of food, and their smooth character will also make them perfectly palatable without the complement of a meal. This is possibly the reason they are so popular in the new world and among the younger generations who are not so conditioned by the more traditional approach to wine as the essential complement to a meal. I guess this also explains the fact that an English name is used to describe Italian wines and that it was in fact created by the American wine writer Robert Parker.

The last thing to keep in mind when looking at buying a Super tuscan is that because of what it takes to make a wine with the characteristics described, they tend to be on the more expensive side of things, but this is well compensated by their versatility: they are wines to be fully enjoy as soon as purchased, but also offering considerable longevity with a good potential of evolution in the bottle, thus making them also a good investment for wine collectors.

 

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