Ever wondered what makes a Super Tuscan super?
Well, to understand that, you have to understand the strict laws in Italy governing winemaking. Wines produced in Italy are labeled Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) or Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) – assuring quality is maintained, regions and grapes are specific, and legal winemaking and labeling requirements have been met. What puts the G in DOCG? Add a blind quality taste test and stricter production limits.
There are two additional classes of wine in Italy under the Table Wine category: Vino da Tavola (VDT) and Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT). The latter is where the Super Tuscans fit in.
Super Tuscans were originally created by winemakers who wanted to skirt the DOC and DOCG rules by creating their own unique blends that did not conform to those rules. They would add cabernet sauvignon, for example, or not add white grapes to their Chianti (which, at the time, was standard practice).
It goes without saying, but we’ll say it: they’re produced in the Tuscany region, mostly in Chianti.
In a country whose wine history reaches back many centuries, it’s interesting that the first Super Tuscans – Sassicaia and Tignanello – weren’t created until the late 60s and early 70s.
Here are two suggestions:
Colombaia Rossa Toscana IGT 2007 (Tuscany, Italy) $29
This Super Tuscan is a blend of sangiovese, colorino, malvasia nero and canaiolo. It’s ruby red, with hints of plum and cedar. If you’re drinking with dinner, consider whipping up some meaty ragu sauce or game to pair.
La Massa Toscana IGT 2012 (Tuscany, Italy) $25.99
Minerals and dark fruits dominate this elegant wine, produced by winemaker Giampaolo Motta using sangiovese, merlot and cabernet sauvignon grapes.
And if you’re going to splurge: Sassicaia is the most superb and iconic Super Tuscan available in the United States. It’s made with cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc and, depending on the vintage, will run you around $200.