Not too long ago, the hemp-covered Chianti bottle, weirdly enough called “fiasco”, was the definition of Tuscan wine for me. Luckily, I now know better.
The most famous wine areas in Tuscany are Chianti, Montalcino and Montepulciano, and also San Gimignano for white. The most commonly used grape is Sangiovese, but there are other grapes grown here as well. For example, there are several “Super Tuscans” with Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. There is also the Vernaccia grape, which is the basis of the white wine Vernaccia di San Gimignano. In addition, Tuscany is known for its amazing desert wine, Vin Santo, which is made of a variety of the regions grapes.
Tuscany has 33 DOCs (Denominazioni di origine controllata) and 9 DOCGs (Denominazioni di Origine Controllata e Garantita). I believe the Chianti area is the most exciting. For me, the Chianti area has some of the best Italian wine, and perhaps some of the best wine in the world.
In Chianti Classico wines, there has to be at least 80% Sangiovese grapes in the bottle. The rest of the grapes must be red with at least a 12% alcohol content, and it has to spend at least 12 months aging in oak barrels. If the bottle is to be labeled “Riserva”, the alcohol content must be at least 12,5% and it would have to spend at least two years in the oak barrels.
In the 1970s, a new type of wine called the “Super Tuscans” emerged when the producers wanted to explore and experience with other types of grapes beyond the Classico rules. Many of these “Super Tuscans” are very good and have great storage potential, but are often more powerful than the traditional bottles, especially with less use of Sangiovese.
From Tuscany, I prefer the fruity Chianti Classico and Riserva bottles from Radda, Gaiole, Greve, Panzano and Castellina. These are my everyday favorites. They drink well on their own, with a tasty salume, tomato-based pasta and also meat.
My favorite producers are Castell in Villa, Castello di Rampolla, Antinori, Monsanto, Fontodi, Vecchie terre di Montefili, Querciabella, Brancaia, Isole e Olena, Montevertine, Fattorio di Felsina, Castello de Ama, Badia a Coltibuono, Riecine and San Giusto Rentennanno
My favorite bottles are: Castell in Villa Chianti Classico, Riserva 95, Vecchie terre di Montefili, Anfiteatro 2007, Castello di Rampolla Chianti Classico 2011, Fontalloro 1998, Monsanto 95 and 99. Flaccianello 2007, 2004 and 2001.