Super Tuscans…Are They as Super as Their Name?
Chianti Classico wines have always been highly restricted and regulated by the DOC, DOCC and the IGT to monitor exactly what was going into the Italian wines, so the end result was consistent and near perfection. That all started way back in the second half of the 20th Century, but the newer, sexier Super Tuscan wines turned all of that upside down. They did the unthinkable…they threw a little bit of this and a little bit of that into their wines to make something so unique and interesting and Italy actually allowed it…sort of.
The 70% Sangiovese (the rest are the Canaiolo and Malvasia grapes) of the traditional and controlled Chianti wines was now being edited. The grapes they wanted to use came from the Bolgheri region in Northern Maremma area of Tuscany, which is most well-known nowadays for its coastal luxury. The foreign grapes here run almost from the edge of the sea to deep into the hills above to coastline. But, most of the grapes here are Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc grapes. These grapes were most suitable to this area, because of the rocky soil and terrain, less desirable land for the Sangiovese grapes.
The very first Super Tuscan was Marquis Antinori’s Tignanello, made from Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc grapes. Since the wine did not meet the strict standards of the two regulators (DOC and DOCC), it was deemed a table wine. If you’ve tried a Super Tuscan these days, it would be hard to classify it as a table wine. Given that it had a higher price point, they finally offered it the distinction of being classified with the IGT denomination. This simply stand for Typical Geographic Indication that came to be in 1992.
Sadly, by the 2000’s, the Super Tuscan market had been saturated and everybody and their sister had their version of what they called a Super Tuscan, so some of the cool factor had worn off by that time, because they actually were no longer so super. However, if you are looking to use wine as an investment, the Super Tuscans are still some the best Italian wines out there. If this article made you want to track some down, a few great names are Sassicaia, Masseto, Ornellaia, Tignanello, and Solaia. They are usually sold in greater volumes, but have a history of much better appreciation. And given that some Super Tuscans can carry a price tag of $400 or more, I am now under the impression that Italians no longer refer to them as table wines.