Tuscany occupies the western flank of central Italy, south of Liguria and Emilia Romagna and north of Lazio. Umbria delimits its eastern border while to the west Tuscany faces onto the Tyrrhenian sea with a 400 kilometres long coastline.
The climate is mild along the coast and colder in the hilly mainland, with significant temperature variations year-wide. This wonderful region is predominantly hilly or mountainous.
The Apennines cross Tuscany from the northeast and their foothills offer the geographical platform for the region’s main wine-growing areas. Chianti is without doubt the most famous of these, but over the last twenty five years others such as Montalcino, Montepulciano, Scansano and Bolgheri – to mention only a few – have emerged to offer diversity and new interest.
Tuscany has 60.000 hectares of specialised vineyards, and an average production of 3 million hectolitres of wine a year. The most planted white varieties in the region are Trebbiano and Malvasia, responsible for DOCs such as Elba, Pitigliano and Valdichiana.
Vermentino is a variety grown mainly on the coast where it yields citrusy, light-bodied whites ideal for aperitif and local seafood. The most important white wine is however Vernaccia di San Gimignano, the first Italian white to gain DOC status back in 1966. Tuscany is fundamentally a red wine region.
Sangiovese is by and large the predominant native grape, known as “Brunello” in Montalcino, “Prugnolo” in Montepulciano and “Morellino” in Scansano. Other local red varieties like Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo and Colorino, indigenous to the Chianti region, have a lower profile today than they used to, largely replaced by Cabernet and Merlot, which in recent decades have gained major importance both in blends and as monovarietals.
Chianti, Brunello and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano represent the finest expressions of Sangivoese to be found Italy-wide, and embody the pinnacle of Tuscan wine production. Chianti, still the dominant force in Tuscan viniculture, has long rated as the most Italian of wines. This is partly because it is the most voluminous and widely sold classified wine, but also because it has a personality that cannot be pinned down. Its multifarious nature is quintessentially Italian.
Tuscany’s appellation of greatest stature is Brunello di Montalcino, a DOCG from a fortress town south of Siena where reds of legendary power and longevity have commanded lofty prices.
Super Tuscan wines have been the greatest development (and commercial success) occurred in recent years, deeply connected to the gradual rise of Tuscany’s coastal region: untraditional blends of Sangiovese + international varieties aged in 100% new French oak and sealed with trendy labels and fancy names, Supertuscans are mostly grown across the coastal region of Tuscany, in such districts as Maremma, Bolgheri, Val di Cornia. Today,
Tuscan wines that remain outside of DOC/DOCG are generally entitled to the regionwide Toscana IGT. Yet the famed Sassicaia, the pure Cabernet that in the 1970s convinced the world that Italy could make modern reds of international appeal, now has a DOC of its own within the Bolgheri appellation.