A glass of wine can be relaxing after a long day of work. Knowing the wine’s history is vital. If you are here, most likely you heard or read the phrase “super Tuscan” somewhere and got curious about what it is. The phrase refers to a group of high-quality white and red wines, like Ornellaia, Tignanello, or Sassicaia, that have a price to match in most cases.
You are in the right place because the article will take you through the various aspects of the Super Tuscan wines. In this post, you will learn where to find the wines, their history, and the tips to identify them.
What is a Super Tuscan Wine?
Super Tuscans embody the 1970s Italian winemaker’s rebellious spirit. Shuttering many cultures in Italian winemaking, super Tuscan wines have emerged in their category. Super Tuscan is a style of red wine that has its origins in Tuscany, Italy. Its creation was because the winemakers were frustrated with the slow bureaucracy in changing wine laws in Italy during the 1970s. Super Tuscan wines may include non-indigenous grapes like Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.
Earliest Super Tuscans were high-quality red wines made by prominent winemaking families. Tignanello was the first and the most famous Super Tuscan wine, created in 1971 by Antinori. Today, Tignanello is a blend of 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, and 80% Sangiovese. A bottle of Tignanello costs about $80 today. The Italian DOCG and DOC classification system did not approve the international grape varieties officially. It meant that the wines couldn’t be classified as high quality or superior DOCGs. Therefore, the winemakers named them Super Tuscans to emphasize their high quality.
The winemakers started mixing the unsanctioned grape varieties, like merlot, into their wine blends to produce high-quality red wines. In 1992, the legal system eventually gave in, creating the IGT. The winemakers now had more leeway to be more creative in making the wine.
There are many style variations of Super Tuscan wines. Their use of French grapes like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and new oak barrels makes the influence of Bordeaux apparent. The best quality Super Tuscan wines are full-bodied and rich, with well-integrated tannins. The wines spice from oak and can age for many years.
We can find super Tuscan wines at both ends of the economy. Some are inexpensive, while the most iconic and high-quality Super Tuscan Wines appear on wine lists for several hundreds of dollars a bottle.
The Origins of Super Tuscan Wines
In Tuscany, winemaking is an ancient practice. Super Tuscan wine is a recent invention. The wine came about in the early 1970s when winemakers started making wines that were not in line with the laws for appellation wines in Tuscany, like Chianti DOC. The pioneers of these wines, like Tignanello and Sassicaia, were Bordeaux-style blends of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The wine used International Grape varieties instead of the traditional Italian grape varieties. Therefore, it was relegated to the lowest prestigious level of wine classification, the Vino da Tavola.
Another Super Tuscan Wine, Tignanello made by wine producers from Antinori in Florence, was designated Vino da Tavola in 1974. They made the wine from 100% Sangiovese grapes. Chianti appellation rules provided white grapes had to be blended into these wines. Because wine had the lowest classification, the producers would use proprietary names to entice the customers. The names ensured that instead of the customers remembering the wine by appellation, they could remember it by brand.
Most producers would add the suffix “-aia,” an Italian term meaning a vacant piece of land at the end of the proprietary name to show the wine was Super Tuscan. Other varieties of the wine include Rondinaia, Solaia, and Ornellaia.
The first person to call these wines “Super Tuscans” might have been wine writer Burt Anderson. The name stuck as the popularity of the wines continued growing in the 1980s. Super Tuscan winemakers aged the wine in costly Bordeaux-style oak barrels referred to as barriques, leading to more pronounced wine flavors of spice and vanilla, similar to the great French wines.
The English-speaking wine consumers were happy not to worry about learning all the complicated Italian wine appellation rules. They would ask for a bottle of Super Tuscan wine and get a wine made using the best and most popular styles internationally.
In 1992, the Italian government recognized its success. They created the IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica), a new classification for wine quality. The wines in the IGT category had a higher rank than Vino da Tavola but lower than DOCG and DOC wines. IGT wines could use international grape varieties like Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon, banned in the previous stricter appellations.
After two years, Bolgheri DOC changed its rules, allowing the use of certain international grape varieties. It was then that Super Tuscan wines were integrated into the DOC wine classification category.
Where Do You Find Super Tuscan Wines Today?
The only regional requirement to qualify for a wine to be Super Tuscan is it must originate from Indicazione Geografica Tipica in Tuscany. Not all wines made of blend or single varieties of grapes meet the stipulations of the Chianti. If the wines are produced from a Tuscan IGT, the wines may be classified as Super Tuscan. The IGTs may include Bolgheri, Toscana and Maremma, among others.
Because of the development of technology and the internet, you can order a bottle of Super Tuscan wine from any place. Many online stores sell varieties of Super Tuscans. All you need to do is create an account and choose a bottle from this category to quench your thirst.
Because there are many Super Tuscan wines, the places where they are produced differ but are all around Tuscany. For instance, the Sassicaia Bolgheri 1998 comes from Bolgheri in Maremma, a costal Tuscan winemaking region.
You can also find a bottle of Super Tuscan wine at a wine store in your nearest town or an action. We advise you to buy the wine from an online retailer. Remember to check the family name, classification, and region of the wine before purchasing a bottle.
Who Are The Most Famous Super Tuscan Wine Producers?
As stated above, there are many brands and varieties of Super Tuscan wine. This section will learn the best wine producers and their signature wines. Tenuta San Guido is known for its Sassicaia while Le Macchiole for producing Messorio. Marchessi Antinoriproduces brands like Solaia, Tignanello, and Guado al Tasso. Castelle di Ama produces L’Apparita, while Tua Rita makes the famous Redigaffi wine. Tenuta dell’Onellaia is famous for producing brands like Masseto and Ornellaia.
How Do You Identify A Super Tuscan Wine?
Unfortunately, many would want to reap where they did not sow by branding their wines Super Tuscan. Therefore, you need to have a way of recognizing the wines in this category. The easiest way to identify a super Tuscan wine is by checking for its Toscana IGT classification. Since all Super Tuscans are not in this category, check for the unique name on the bottle. It is not the appellation name or the grape variety. For instance, Sassicaia is labelled Tenuta San Guido “Sassicaia”.
What Are The Best Food And Super Tuscan Wine Pairings?
A nice bottle of Super Tuscan wine can be paired with a wide range and style of cuisine. Super Tuscan wines are known for their bold flavors, making them perfect to pair with earthy foods. They also go perfectly well with grilled meats, hearty pasta dishes, and cheese. For instance, the Sassicaia Bolgheri 1998 is paired with red meats like lamb or beef steaks, game meat, and mature cheeses. Because of their bold flavors, Super Tuscan wines can also be paired with spicy foods like Indian and Thai cuisine.
What Is The Proper Way To Store Super Tuscan Wine?
Many people assume that once they open a bottle of wine, there is no way it will last for more than five days. It is not the case as you can prolong your wines’ lifespan by taking precautionary measures. Here is the proper way to store wine:
You should put your wines in a cool and dark place like a cabinet or closet before serving them. The ideal temperature for storing your bottles is 55F (12C) and 65F (18C). It is the best place to store your bottles.
Before serving a bottle of wine, take it out from its storage place and let it sit for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature. This will make the wine come back to its proper temperature, enhancing its quality and taste.
If you do not have time to let the bottle warm at room temperature, pour the wine in a bowl with hot water for 5 minutes.
Once opened, you should drink your wine within 24 hours. If you need to store the bottle, use professional wine stoppers or vacuum sealers. You can also store it in your refrigerator but make sure that the bottles are on their side. This will allow the wine to separate and lessen its contact with air. It would be best to transfer it into an airtight container made of dark glass.
How Do I Serve Super Tuscan Wine?
The wines should always be served at room temperature. Remember, you are not serving champagne or beer. Do not allow the wine to get chilled if you want to enjoy its full flavor.
Why Is Super Tuscan Wine Better Than Traditional Italian Wines?
Super Tuscan wines are an upgrade to traditional Italian wines. They are bolder and more affluent in flavors than their Tuscany counterparts, making them perfect for pairing with rich dishes. Many people are now buying Super Tuscan wines instead of traditional Italian wines because they are trying to maintain their quality.
The frustrations and rebellious spirit of Tuscans led to the production of Super Tuscans. Therefore, the wine can be called a “wine of resilience” to indicate that no matter the challenges, you can still emerge victorious, just like the wine was eventually moved to Bolgheri DOC from being a Vino da Tavola. Use the tips above to check how genuine a bottle is before purchasing it.
Red wine is helpful for the body because of its resveratrol antioxidants. They can help counter the effects of aging and help fight cancer. To make your party even more fun, you can have a bottle of Super Tuscan wine included in the menu.