Seems like everyone chose Italy for their summer vacation this year. Beautiful photographs are being shared over social media – especially images of Tuscany! Seems like everyone chose Italy for their summer vacation this year. Beautiful photographs are being shared over social media – especially images of Tuscany!
Tuscany is a large wine region located in the heart of Italy with many recognized sub-regions (also known as subzones), areas that must obey with Italian laws that apply quality assurance such as DOC (controlled designation of origin) and DOCG (controlled designation of origin guaranteed). Wines are government tested and analyzed, and bottles have numbered government seals on the cap and cork, and IGT (Indication of Geographic Type).
White wines are emerging big time out of Tuscany. Vernaccia di San Gimignano is one of the only DOCG whites produced in the breath-taking village San Gimignano and is a dry, full-bodied wine with a rich floral bouquet and good fruit. Also Vermentino is very popular, with vineyards planted in the coastal hills of Tuscany close to the sea. Both wines are wonderful as an aperitif or alongside salads and fish. Suggested wine to try: La Lastra Vendemmia Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG 2015.
For Tuscan reds, Sangiovese is the most widely planted native grape. Noteworthy red wines are produced from the grape including Chianti, Brunello di Montelcino, Vino Nobile di Montelpulciano, Rosso di Montelpulciano, Carmignano and Super Tuscans.
Chianti has various styles, some are smooth and round, easy to drink young; others need years to develop aromas and flavors distinctive of aged Tuscan reds. The wines show a deep ruby-garnet color, present a light to medium body with cherry and cranberry as the leading flavors, but you can find cocoa, espresso, tobacco and oak in the older vintages. Easy to drink, Chianti is a great choice for pizza and pasta. Suggested wine: Frescobaldi Toscana Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG 2013.
Brunello di Montelcino is one of the most highly-rated and expensive Italian wines. Produced in Montelcino, a magnificent medieval village, Brunello was the first wine to receive DOCG status. Made from 100 percent Sangiovese Grosso, it’s a full-bodied complex wine with a deep ruby color, intense flavor and tannins. Rosso di Montelcino is a younger, fruitier wine that needs less aging. Suggested wines: Camigliano Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2012 and Fossacolle Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2014.
Vino Nobile di Montelpulciano, from the ancient town of Montelpulciano, is another well-respected wine that is more versatile than Brunello. The wine shows characteristics of deep garnet color with intense flavors of fruit and violets. A wine that pairs well with meats, sharp cheeses and dried fruits. Rosso di Montelpulciano is a younger alternative with more subtle flavors. Suggested wine: Cecchi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 2012.
Super Tuscans are highly regarded very popular wines, made using numerous grape varietals; most popular are Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Producers of these wines are known to be more daring and artistic, while keeping the sense of tradition in mind. Super Tuscans are velvety smooth, yet big and juicy, with scents of blackberry and coffee, followed by a delicate finish. They are Bordeaux-style wines that satisfy all tastes and go well with red meat and all pasta dishes. Suggested wine: Tenuta Sette Ponti Crognolo Toscana IGT 2013
Carmignano has a long history, recognized and enjoyed by the Grand Duke of Tuscany in 1716. Another Tuscan DOCG and one of the first Tuscan regions to be permitted to use Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The wines are structured and elegant with floral notes and plenty of berry, leather and licorice flavors. Foods that enhance the wine are local Tuscan dishes. Suggested wine: Villa di Capezzana Carmignano DOCG 2013.
The most reliable guide to the quality of any wine is the reputation of the individual producer or estate. Tuscan producers to look for: Banfi, Camigliano, Castello di Cacchiano, Cecchi, Rocca delle Macìe, Felsina, Fontodi, Marsiliana and Principe Corsini.