Unlike in the United States, where wines are generally identified by the grapes they are made with (Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet, etc.), in Italy, most wines are identified by the region they come from. Let’s explore some of Tuscany’s better known wine regions together!
Chianti Classico is a region of about 17, 640 acres in the green, rolling hills between Florence and Siena. The Chianti Classico region is made up of the four communes of Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti, Greve in Chianti and Radda in Chianti. The soil in the Chianti Classico area is quite varied, and makes for hearty red wines that are high in acidity. Chianti Classico wines are associated with floral or cherry tastes. The production of Chianti Classico is overseen by the Consorzio del Vino Chianti Classico, a union founded with the goal of promoting Chianti Classico, improving its quality and ensuring it is not fraudulently produced.
Chianti Colli Fiorentini
Chianti Colli Fiorentini is a Denominazione di Origina Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) located just outside the historic center of Florence in the hills to the east of the city. Chianti Colli Fiorentini are made up of 70% – 100% Sangiovese grapes. Chianti Colli Fiorentini wines generally have a lively, red hue with an intense smell, with some tannic flavors that soften over time. Chianti Colli Fiorentini production is also overseen by the Consorzio Chianti Colli Fiorentini, which was founded recently, in 1994.
Brunello di Montalcino
The Montalcino region is just around the hill town of Montalcino, and it is where Brunello di Montalcino, one of Tuscany’s most prestigious wines is produced. In the province of Siena, Montalcino is just to the northwest of Monte Amiata and the Grosseto coastal region of Tuscany. Brunello di Montalcino wine is another Denominazione di Origina Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) and together with Barolo may be considered the Tuscan wines that age the best. Brunello di Montalcino is made from 100% Sangiovese grapes, and takes its name, ‘brunello’ from the small, brownish grapes that grow in the region.
The Montalcino region also produces the Rosso di Montalcino wine. One of the DOCG requirements for the making of Brunello di Montalcino is that at least 30% of each Brunello vintage must be “declassified” and matured for less time, resulting in the Rosso di Montalcino. Most wine producers in the region of Montalcino therefore in addition to excellent Brunellos, have excellent Rossos as well. Look for especially good Rosso di Montalcino in years where production may not have been as good, because producers would have skipped investing highly in making Brunello those years, resulting in higher quality grapes in the Rosso di Montalcino production.
Nobile di Montepulciano
Montepulciano is another Tuscan hill town, about 25 miles southeast of Siena, and for wines from this area to be called Nobile di Montepulciano they must come from the area located between the Ocria and Chiana rivers, with an altitude of 820-1968 ft. Nobile di Montepulciano is made up primarily of the famous Tuscan Sangiovese grape, similar to Brunello di Montalcino. The Sangiovese may be complemented by Canaiolo or Mammolo. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is aged for a minimum of 24 months (36 months for the riserva), and for 12 of those months it must be ages in oak barrels. The resulting wine is usually a deep maroon color that can become almost orange over time. It is known for its medium body and firm tannins, and the acidity that lends to its ability to age well over time. This wine could be described as a cross between Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino.
Bolgheri is a Denominazione di Origine Controllato (DOC) that hails from Castagneto Carducci, in the Maremma zone in the province of Livorno. This wine appellation is quite young, and began gaining popularity in the late 1970s. In 1978, a 1972 vintage of the Bolgheri wine Sassicaia by Tenuta San Guido beat out some prestigious Bordeaux wines, which led to the world taking particular interest in this previously little known area. Bolgheri wines may be made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, or a blend, always including at least 50% Syrah or Sangiovese. This year World Wine Town opened at Casone Ugolino, in the heart of the Bolgheri DOC zone. The space has a Sensory and Multimedia wine museum, and boasts restaurants, shops, and conference facilities. Many Bolgheri wines are also considered Super Tuscan wines due to the variety of grapes included in the mixes.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Until now we had explored some of the more famous red wine producing regions. But Tuscany is also famous for the white DOCG wine from San Gimignano: la Vernaccia. Vernaccia di San Gimignano is a dry, crisp, light white wine that comes from the small town that gives it its name, San Gimignano. This wine is produced in a small area in between Siena, Pisa and Florence. Vernaccia di San Gimignano was actually the first Italian wine to receive the distinction of Denominazione di Origine Controllata in 1966 after which it became a DOCG in 1993. This wine is yellow in its hue, and tends to become more golden with time. It has a fine scent, with hints of citrus, flowers and herbs. It is a dry wine, fresh and full bodied. Vernaccia di San Gimignano comes from the grape that shares its name, which must come from the designated area.
These are just some of the many parts of Tuscany that boast excellent wines. There is so much in Tuscany to taste and explore! For a relaxing afternoon (or full day) studying Tuscan wine in any of the areas we just discussed, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Tuscany Tour Time. Angela’s guides have explored the various regions of Tuscany enjoying and studying the incredible wines for years and are thrilled to share their passion and knowledge with you. The tough part will be to decide where to begin…!
Book now your special and exciting 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