Everything Wine And More

Ruth Blakely
 
March 13, 2019 | Ruth Blakely

Tuscany: Beyond Sangiovese

Many of us grew up buying a cheap bottle of Chianti that came in a basket and college kids turned into a candle holder.  As the decades passed fantastic wines from the Chianti region made their way into the Alberta market.  The wines made primarily from the Sangiovese grapes remain some of the best food wines in the world.  

In the mid to late 20th century, some maverick wine makers scoffed at the strict Italian wine rules and began making premier wine with grapes that most people associated with France.  Fantastic wines made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot started to garner rave reviews and loyal fans.  Wine critic Robert Parker is often credited with coining the term ‘Super Tuscan’ to describe these special wines.

The Italian DOC and DOCG rules meant some of Italian wines commanding the highest prices had to be called Vino da Tavola – or ‘table wine’.  The rules changed in 1992 when the IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) classification was created to accommodate them.  Now some of the premier DOCs include Super Tuscans.

Wines such as Sassicaia, Masseto, Ornellaia and Solaia come with big price, but deliver consistently spectacular wine.  They age incredibly well and are often a trophy holding pride of place in a fine wine cellar.

There’s good news for the rest of us though.  You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to enjoy these wonderful wines.  Antinori’s Tignanello is an opulent Tuscan superstar at less than half the price of the others - blending the traditional Sangiovese cherry aromas with deeper darker fruit from the Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Castel’In Villa’s Santacroce is another massive Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Sangiovese that delivers fruit, structure complexity and depth. It’s not priced like most people’s everyday drinker but is less than the cost of a gas fill-up for a big SUV.

Even more budget friendly is the Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo which is both Sangiovese and Merlot resulting in a wine that’s bursting with flavour without completely blowing the budget.  

Sangiovese still accounts for more than half of the vines planted in Tuscany, but they are not the only game in town.

Viva Italia!

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