The Wines of Tuscany

(passionate Italian
folk music)>>(narrator)
The central Italian region of Tuscany evokes thoughts
of rolling hills, sunbathed vineyards,
olive trees, and historic
architecture.>>(with Italian accent)
In Tuscany, you can find the culture, history,
food, wine, mountain, sea. It’s a magic place.>>(narrator)
Long dominated
by the city-states of Sienna and
Florence, this was the birthplace of
the Italian Renaissance. (Italian folk music) Viticulture in
Tuscany predates the rise of the
Roman Empire, dating back to at
least the eighth century before the Common Era.>>(speaking Italian) >>(narrator)
There are many grapes grown throughout Tuscany, such
as Vernaccia, Vermentino, Canaiolo, and
Colorino, and even French grapes like
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Most of Tuscany’s top
appellations produce red wines. Vernaccia di San Gimignano
is an exception, providing white wines
from vineyards around its namesake
hilltop town.>>(speaking Italian)>>(narrator)
However, no grape is as widely planted or
as identified with Tuscany as Sangiovese.>>(with Italian accent)
Sangiovese is Tuscany, more than any
other variety. (playful brass music)>>(speaking Italian)>>(with Italian accent)
Sangiovese has mainly, in my opinion,
two typical flavors. That’s the cherry
and the violet. Then, with the aging, it
gets more earthy flavors.>>Sangiovese really
love this very hot day, mild night. It loves clay,
it loves rocks.>>(narrator)
The most well-known wine of the region
is Chianti. In 1716, Chianti became the
first defined winegrowing area in all of Italy.>>Chianti is a huge region
between Florence in the north and Siena
in the south.>>(speaking Italian) (light playful
string music)>>(narrator)
Chianti Classico
is the heartland of the Chianti zone. The region consistently provides
the best examples of Chianti and stricter rules are
defined for its production.>>If you want to
have your wine marked with the
“Chianti Classico,” there are certain rules
about how to make wine here.>>You must use Sangiovese
up to at least 80%. Not less than 80%. All the rest is
a little bit free. I think this rule is even
too large in a certain sense, because, in my opinion,
for a Chianti glass, your Sangiovese must
be more than 80%.>>Another rule you have to
follow is that your vineyards must be in a territory
of Chianti Classico, and the territory is–
everything is written. Every single vineyard
is registered.>>We cannot produce more
than seven and a half tons per hectare. We cannot have less
done than, let’s say, 12% in alcohol.>>(narrator)
Chianti Classico
cannot be released until October 1st of the
year following harvest, with Reserva wines requiring
an additional year.>>There are many
rules to follow, but these are rules
made, at the end, to obtain a
good product.>>If I want to drink, and I want to taste, really,
a great Chianti Classico, perfect food is
for sure a Florentine steak. (light Italian
guitar music) So you have
the sweet meat, and vibrant and
slightly acidic wine that matches
really perfectly.>>(narrator)
By the late 1960s, there was a growing
frustration with the restrictive
rules of Chianti and limits on the use of
international grapes geared to overseas
markets. This led to the birth of
the Super Tuscan style. (lively Italian music)>>All the wines that were not
able to be in an appellation, they are called
“Super Tuscan.”>>The regional recipe
of Chianti Classico is made of
four grapes. Sangiovese,
Canaiolo–red– and Trebbiano and Malvasia,
white grapes.>>When Tignanello
was born in ’71, it was not able to
be a Chianti Classico, because we decide to
produce a red wine not using
white grapes. (laughing)
It’s funny, in a certain sense. In ’75, we decide to add
a little bit of Cabernet to make a wine
more approachable, so there was no chance to
call this wine another way than “table wine.” And the Americans–
then, they decide to call this kind
of wine “Super Tuscan.”>>These rules have been
changing in the past. In 1984, it was introduced
the possibility not to use the white grapes, and then other
grapes were allowed.>>At the beginning, we
were using much more oak, much more new oak. We were a little bit
attracted by the use of oak. We really had the feeling
that that was a mistake, because the use of oak,
when it is too much, covers, in a certain sense,
the style, it covers the
character of the wine. We are moving toward a much
more smooth presence of oak in order to maintain a clear
and understandable style and the characteristic
of the grapes.>>(narrator)
Not all Super Tuscans are blends of
different grapes. Wineries wishing to make
wine using 100% Sangiovese were forbidden from using
the Chianti appellation.>>It was my
father’s idea, of making a 100%
Sangiovese. Everything started
in the vintage of 1977. At that time, normally all wineries used to
produce a Chianti Classico, and my father didn’t want to
follow this, let’s say, recipe. They tried to make this
wine only with Sangiovese– the result
was excellent. But the cruelest
thing is that that wine was not accepted
to be a Chianti Classico because it was not made
following the rules, and labeled as
a table wine. (chuckling)
This is a paradox, maybe, because now I
think we are one of the most traditional
producers in the
Chianti Classico area.>>(narrator)
Whereas Chianti enjoys a legacy dating back centuries, Brunello di Montalcino
has only recently achieved its status as one of
Italy’s most profound wines. History credits
Clemente Santi of Biondi Santi with the invention of
the style, as the producer was the first to isolate
the Brunello clone and bottle it
in 1865.>>The idea was to make a
wine from pure Sangiovese. It was a great idea. (playful Italian
guitar music)>>The medieval town
of Montalcino and its surrounding hills
overlap Chianti Senesi in the southern
reaches of Tuscany and encompass
24,000 hectares, although less than 2,000
are planted for Brunello.>>(speaking Italian)>>The current aging
requirements for Brunello state that the wine must age in
wood for at least two years, and it may not be sold
before January 1st of the fifth year
following the harvest.>>Brunello is a great
and unique nose. A little of spicy,
red fruit, violet.>>(speaking Italian)>>(narrator)
With the extended
aging requirements, winemakers wanted something
to drink while the Brunello was still maturing
in the cellar. This lead to the creation
of Rosso di Montalcino.>>Rosso di Montalcino
is a pure Sangiovese, the same as a Brunello, but
we can release after one year. The most important
difference is that the Rosso di Montalcino
is more approachable at the beginning.>>(narrator)
Tuscany’s winemakers are rooted in tradition but
have their eyes on the future. Sangiovese remains the
most important variety, despite challenges from
international grapes. Tuscan wines cover a broader
spectrum than ever before and will continue to
capture the attention of wine drinkers
worldwide. (playful Italian music) GuildSomm is a nonprofit
membership organization for wine
professionals. To join our
online community, visit us on the web
at (playful Italian music)


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