Best Tuscan Wines You’ll Want To Try
Wine culture dates back more than three millennia in Tuscany and is central to its cultural identity. So if you want to know Tuscan, you must try its wines. During the Middle Ages, the Sienese merchants began to systematically cultivate the land with vineyards. This was in conjunction with the Catholic Church, which used wine as an important part of their rituals. The Benedictines, in fact, were so adept at wine cultivation, that they wrote manuals regarding the process that are still practiced today.
Merchants first began trading wine outside the region in 1710 and it was an instant hit. The Sangiovese grapes, which originate in the hills of Siena, first produced the famous Chianti, a red wine with a bold, unique flavor. By 1716, the Grand Duke of Tuscany established a boundary to localize and regulate the wine industry.
Unfortunately, World War II devastated the region, leaving many wine producers with insurmountable debts. Eventually, the wine industry would flourish again. By the 1960s, a law protecting wines was passed, and Vernaccia and Chianti would become the first wines to receive a Designation of Guaranteed Origin, or DOCG. Within the next twenty years, a focus on quality rather than quantity was made and Tuscan wine now has a reputation for excellence. There are more than 70 DOCG wines throughout Italy, eleven of which are located in Tuscany.
The Chianti Classico is the Tuscan region’s most famous wine. It has a very bold and unique flavor that can be easily paired with any food. The Chianti Classico wines must consist of at least 80% sangiovese grape, while the other 20% may be another type of grape, such as merlot or cabernet. It is regulated by the Italian government and only compliant wines receive the DOCG label. There are also rules about aging, and the lovely Chianti Riserva wines are an older brand.
Since the wine is so popular, there are many producers outside of the region that market themselves as Chianti-style. You’ll be able to recognize the original Chianti vinters by the black rooster symbol, which is the trademark of Chianti Classico wines today. The Classico distinction also informs you that the wine comes from the original Chianti region.
We recommend staying at the Casa di Lusso, an intimate family-style villa, located in the heart Chiani region.
Brunellos are another world famous Tuscan wine. They must contain 100% sangiovese grapes and have to be aged in a specific way under a specific timeframe. Vinters are not allowed to irrigate their vineyards at all and are therefore at the mercy of the weather. This is not an easy feat! But thankfully they do it well!
Brunellos are made by about 250 different wineries throughout Italy, which is surprising considering how hard it is to make. The sangiovese grape only grows well in the beautiful Val d’Orcia region of Southern Tuscany. This is actually one of our favorite wines and we highly recommend drinking it during the grape harvest in October.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano
The Vernaccia di San Gimignano has a long history in Tuscany dating back to the Renaissance period. While most of Tuscany produces reds, the Vernaccia is a charismatic and distinctive Italian white wine. It is known for its golden-hued color, full-bodied nature, and crisp floral bouquet. It also reflects the terrain, which comes from sandstone soils. Its region of origin is San Gimignano, a charming Tuscan town known for its medieval towers.
We highly recommend staying at the nearby villa, Casa Storica.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is a vibrant, fresh and fruity Tuscan wine that must contain a minimum of 70% sangiovese grapes and may be joined by up to 30% other varieties authorized by the Tuscan region. However, many producers make their top Nobiles from 100% sangiovese. The wine also must be aged for a minimum of two years, one of which must take place in an oak barrel or cask. It has been and continues to be favorite amongst Italian Kings, Popes and Presidents and has been celebrated throughout history. By law, Nobile can only be in the terrain around the Montepulciano, a medieval hilltop town.
The Carmignano was first produced during Roman times. In 1716, Cosimo III di Medici listed Carmignano as one of the four superior wine-producing areas of Tuscany. Nowadays, it is made up of between 50 to 90% Sangiovese grapes, while the rest could be Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Cabernet Franc.
It is named after the town of Carmignano, which produces about 360,000 bottles of wine per year. Its exquisite dark and bold tastes are attributed to the Appennine Mountains, whose temperate weather swings are perfect for creating ripe tannins and high levels of polyphenols.