As the winter months (and holidays!) approach, many of us are planning meals for gatherings with friends and family, or studying menus for the many parties that are in the works for colleagues. And with meal planning and preparation comes wine pairings! In the winter months we tend to eat more traditional, heavy meals, that are well accompanied with a Super Tuscan wine list.
What will you find on a SuperTuscan wine list?
While many of the wines we tend to think of when we think of Tuscan wines are the more traditional wines like Chianti, which follow very specific rules for their makeup and production, not all wines from Tuscany fall under specification guidelines. Some wine makers, in addition to their traditional wines, also like to experiment and make some more creative wines, especially when looking to sell in different or foreign markets. That leads us to Super Tuscans: this refers to any red wine made in Tuscany that doesn’t follow the prescriptive guidelines for traditional local wines. Wines on the Super Tuscan wine list can include wines made with international grape varieties, not just the Sangiovese which is indigenous to Tuscany. The wines tend to be powerful blends that include Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah or Merlot.
The first two Super Tuscans that became well known originated in the late 1960’s, early 1970’s. The first Super Tuscan on the Super Tuscan wine list is Sassicaia, which developed when Marchese Mario Incisa della Rochetta planted Bordeaux varietals at his estate in Bolgheri. He ended up blending Cabernet and Cabernet Franc aged in oak. A must have on any Super Tuscan wine list, from 1948 to 1967 this wine was made for the Marchese’s private consumption, and was only drank in the Tenuta. 1968 was Sassicaia’s first year on the market, and now the 2014 year is available for retail. A bottle goes for around €200 and is described as a wine of great breadth, complexity and longevity with blackberry and cases aromas. Sassicaia is definitely going to be on any good Super Tuscan wine list you encounter this holiday season!
The other wine sure to spearhead any Super Tuscan wine list is Tignanello, which was created by Antinori winemakers in 1975, from a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet. This Super Tuscan is produced in limestone-rich soil, and is the first Sangiovese wine to be aged in small oak barrels. It is also one of the first wines to be produced in the Chianti Classico region without using any white grapes. This Super Tuscan will be on the wine list at around €100. It boasts an intense ruby color with purple highlights, and exhibits hints of sweet spices on the taste. According to the Antinori website, “On the palate, the flabors are fresh and vibrant with supple and balanced tannins. The finish and aftertaste are long and sustained.”
Also from Antinori, a wine you might find on a Super Tuscan wine list is Solaia. This Toscana IGT is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc. Solaia is a 50 acre vineyard that is on the same Tignanello estate. The wine was produced for the first time in 1978, with an initial blend that was 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Cabernet Franc. In subsequent years the blend was modified to include 20% Sangiovese and some other corrections to achieve the blend for sale today. On a Super Tuscan wine list a bottle of 2014 Solaia will retail for around €230. The wine is rich in its concentration of red and black fruits, with “notes of vanilla, black pepper, and liquorice.” This year Solaia received a 95/100 from Wine Advocate and 95/100 from James Suckling.
Next on our Super Tuscan wine list are the wines of Ornellaia, a tenuta established by Marchese Lodovico Antinori together with winemaker Tibor Gál. The property is just next to Tenuta San Gallo where Sassicaia is produced. Retailing again at around €200 for a 2014 blend, Ornellaia opens to a “beautifully saturated and dark appearance … The wine shows sweet fruit nuances with blackberry and dark currant. Spice, leather and tobacco fill in the rear.” The grape varieties are predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc with some Petit Verdot occasionally blended as well. Ornellaia is a Super Tuscan Bolgheri DOC and is considered one of Italy’s leading Bordeaux style red wines.
Rounding out our Super Tuscan wine list, also from the Ornellaia tenuta, the next wine on our Super Tuscan wine list is Masseto. This Super Tuscan is made from a Merlot variety. The first wine produced and released was in 1986, called simply “Merlot.” 1987 saw the first “Masseto” label. Masseto 2014 “represents a most elegant and refined expression [with] … intense colour [in the] nose [that] immediately reveals complexity and freshness with hints of red berries, sweet spices, and a slight aroma of toasted wood.” You’ll find a 2014 Masseto on your Super Tuscan wine list for about €400, so save this one for a special occasion!
While the wines on this Super Tuscan wine list are the better known and more pricey wines you might fine, you can still enjoy a reasonable Super Tuscan for the holidays. The first and original, well-known Super Tuscans were pricey, small-production wines. But modern blends in the Super Tuscan style are now widely available. Some reasonable wines you might find on the Super Tuscan wine list are Mazzaferrata 2008 (Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon) for around €40 or Zeno 2013 (Sangiovese and Pinot Noir) for around €30. These wines are pretty much the producers playing around with new varietals and while the classics are expensive, be sure to read the Super Tuscan wine list well and you can get a great deal on an excellent wine that might otherwise be more expensive if it were labeled Chianti Classico!
Book now your special and exciting super tuscan wine tour: Chianti and Super tuscan Wine Tour from Florence, 3 wineries
Duration: Every day from 9:30 am to 5.00 pm People: min 2 – max 16, mixed €170,00 p.p.