Super Tuscans are wines produced in Tuscany with a precise style that doesn’t respect the rules of the traditional Production Protocols. The most famous Supertuscans come from Bolgheri and are usually blends of different grapes
What is a Super Tuscan?
Super Tuscan is not a wine itself or a denomination, but only a style: a way to indicate that a wine is produced in Tuscany and is not subject to the strict disciplinary rules of DOCG or DOC.
Which grapes can be used in a Super Tuscan?
The answer is… all. In fact, the producers are free to use any variety of grapes and also the type and period of aging is at their discretion.
When was the first Super Tuscan born?
Actually there are two stories and both are worth telling. The first is the story of Sassicaia, the second is the story of Tignanello.
The first Super Tuscan that became famous outside Italy and that was not part of DOC System was the Sassicaia, that in mid 70’s won a special challenge blind tasting against the most important Bordeaux wines. But let’s make a bit of history…
Sassicaia was born the 1940s in Bolgheri, a little town along the Tuscan Coast, in the Tenuta San Guido with grapes of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon thanks to the Marchese Incisa della Rocchetta but started to be marketed for the first time only in 1968.
Sassicaia is considered the forerunner of wines produced in Tuscany with varieties of grapes different from those used until then and until 1994 the date of birth of Doc Bolgheri, was only a table wine.
At the end of 2013 Sassicaia became the only wine in Italy to have an autonomous Doc only for the wine produced in the Tenuta San Guido estate and is still the smallest DOC in Italy as a production area: Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC.
The growing success of Sassicaia, brings in the 80s and especially 90s, other families in the world of wine to invest money in Bolgheri and create wines that then became real collectible wines. The Marchesi Antinori, Marchesi Frescobaldi and Angelo Gaja are just a few of these families, but today Bolgheri has become with Montalcino, Chianti Classico and Montepulciano one of the four great areas of production in Tuscany that the whole world envies us.
The second story comes from the Chianti area, where compliance with the rules of the discipline required to produce Chianti Classico with Sangiovese, red berries such as Canaiolo and Colorino and with a small percentage of white grapes such as Malvasia and Trebbiano, pushed some winemakers to produce a wine with a better quality, at the beginning made only of Sangiovese and then with the addition of other vines. The first great Sangiovese in purity was Vigorello, bottled by the San Felice winery in 1968. The first wine that became famous with a blend is the Tignanello.
Produced in the historic cellars of the Marchesi Antinori, in 1975 it was decided to add the Cabernet Sauvignon in addition to Sangiovese; until then it was a Chianti Classico Riserva. From that moment on other producers decided to market wines produced with Sangiovese in purity (Flaccianello, Pergole Torte, Percarlo, Cepparello, Camartina) or with blends of grapes type Solaia and other wines of the Chianti area.
Why Bolgheri Wines are so Successful?
The secret of Bolgheri’s success is due to many factors, surely the most important is the terroir. The combination of soil and climate conditions with the introduction of international varieties that have been used rarely in Tuscany which are well suited to the warm and breezy climate of the coast where it is located, has led Bolgheri to be considered the Italian Bordeaux.
The soil is rich in iron and other minerals, in fact the most important vineyards of Bolgheri are located at the bottom of the colline Metallifere (Metallifer Hills) that already in the Etruscan period were famous for the extraction of iron, which was then melted in the nearby smelters of Populonia.
Bolgheri and the Tuscan coast are also splendid territories to visit: they always leave a vivid memory in the minds of travelers and wine lovers. This, over time, has contributed to increasing the popularity of the area and the fame of its wine. Popular is visiting the cellars of Bolgheri on a tour from Florence, Siena or the Val d’Orcia.
The Best Supertuscans of Bolgheri
Today Bolgheri has 67 winemakers and the red vines that are the masters are the Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Shiraz and in small parts Sangiovese.
Some examples of the best wines are the Ornellaia and the Masseto from Tenuta dell’Ornellaia, Guado al Tasso, by Tenuta Guado al Tasso of the Antinori family, the Camarcanda by Angelo Gaja, Scrio and Messorio by Macchiole and the Grattamacco by Collemassari.
For whites the most used variety is definitely the Vermentino. Other excellent white wines with international grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier are also produced and the most important wines are for sure Grattamacco Vermentino by Collemassari and Camarcanda Vistamare by Angelo Gaja.