The Genesis of Italy’s ‘Super Tuscans’

iStock_000017467842SmallWith “Big, Bold Reds” being today’s featured sampler from Vinesse, it seemed like a good time to share the following question that recently came in.

It has to do with some of the big, bold red wines of Italy…

QUESTION: I’ve heard the term “Super Tuscan” used a lot, but I’ve never seen those words on a wine label. What exactly is a Super Tuscan?

ANSWER: In the 1970s, a new generation of Italian winemakers — seeing the simple Chianti wines of their fathers derided by critics and the public alike — took a leap of faith.

They decided to craft ultra-premium wines, and to do so, they had to break a lot of long-established Italian winemaking rules. Rather than blending a certain amount of white wine with their Sangiovese, which had been the tradition, they began making 100% varietal bottlings of Sangiovese, 100% varietal bottlings of Cabernet Sauvignon, and blends of the two varieties.

They also aged their cuvees in barriques, rather than giant casks, so that the wood could lend additional complexity. Interestingly, because Italian wine laws had no designation for such wines, the government told vintners to label them simply as “vini da tavola” table wines.

It was the wine media that tasted the wines, liked them a lot, and dubbed them “Super Tuscans.”

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