Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Super Tuscan Blend

Super Tuscan wines are either Sangiovese-dominant (Sangiovese is the mainstay of the area and most famous for Chianti), blended with the international Cabernet Sauvignon, the opposite, or somewhere in between. A Super Tuscan may be Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, or even Chardonnay for that matter, single varietal or blend. It is not an official, regulated label term.

In 1948, Marchese Mario Incisa della Rochetta began a revolution in Tuscan winemaking at his large farm in Bolgheri close to the Mediterranean coastline in the southwest sector. He planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc here from Lafite-Rothschild cuttings, and aged the resulting wine in the traditional 225-liter barrels used in Bordeaux, creating the first Super Tuscan wine, Sassicaia. Incisa's brother-in-law, Marchese Niccolo Antinori and his son, Piero, realized the commercial potential of Sassicaia. Working with Mario Incisa's son, also named Niccolo, Antinori winemaker Giacomo Tachis, and Bordeaux-based enologist Emile Peynaud, the grandfather of Bordeaux, the Antinori family brought Sassicaia to market in 1968. It was wildly successful, and the "Super Tuscan" era had begun.

Marchese Piero Antinori expanded on this in Chianti Classico. Tignanello was born in 1971, when Antinori discerned that it was becoming increasingly difficult to produce outstanding wines in Chianti Classico by simply following the formula developed over more than a century and traditions dating back hundreds of years. Regulations mandated the use of white grapes, massive plantings of lesser quality vines, poor clonal selections, low density planting, inexperienced labor force, and an excess of chemical fertilizers. Antinori eliminated white grapes, controlled malolactic fermentation, reduced cask aging, introduced 225-liter oak barrels, increased bottle age to two years, and, in 1975, added Cabernet Sauvignon. Because of its break from traditions of the Chianti Classico zone, Tignanello was not accepted as a DOC. It was instead given Vino da Tavola status.

Antinori followed Tignanello with Solaia, in which Cabernet Sauvignon dominated the blend. Other producers then began to produce wines blended with Bordelais grapes. Some forward-thinking traditionalists traveled a different path by producing pure Sangiovese wines, beginning with “Le Pergole Torte,” first produced in 1977, by the well-respected Chianti Classico producer Sergio Manetti of Monte Vertine. Today many of these wines are grouped into the IGT category, a step up from VdT (Vino da Tavola) and a few are becoming DOC’s and DOCG’s, the highest levels of recognition in Italy.

Capezzana Ghiaie della Furba, Carmignano, Tuscany (Italy)
Fontodi Flaccianello, Tuscany (Italy)
Montervertine Le Pergole Torte, Tuscany (Italy)
Solaia, Antinori, Tuscany (Italy)
Tignanello, Antinori, Tuscany (Italy)
Tinscvil, Monsanto, Tuscany (Italy)
Guado al Tasso Bolgheri Rosso Superiore, Tuscany (Italy)
Masseto, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia, Bolgheri Rosso Superiore, Tuscany (Italy)
Ornellaia, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia, Bolgheri Rosso Superiore, Tuscany (Italy)
Sassicaia, Tenuta San Guido, Bolgheri-Sassicaia, Tuscany (Italy)
Col Solare, Columbia Valley, Washington (USA)

Best Value
Terrabianca Campaccio, Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon, Tuscany (Italy)

© Copyright 2014 Master Sommelier Catherine Fallis, Planet Grape LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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