Introduction

By Paul Caputo

Tuscany is continuously vying with Piedmont and the Veneto for the title of Italy’s most important wine region. Rightly so, for it produces a colossal amount of premium wine from a multitude of different sub zones and appellations. There are few wine lovers that have not experienced, at one time or another, the region’s holy trinity of Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Noble from the hilltop town of Montepulciano.

These iconic red wines represent three distinctive expressions of the thick skinned Sangiovese grape, a versatile variety that has adapted to Tuscany’s endlessly diverse terroir with impressive results. Chianti Classico, marked by the sign of the Gallo Nero (black rooster) and not to be confused with the more varied Chianti appellation, offers the best starting point for understand Tuscany. The gentle undulating hills between Florence and Siena produce austere, but ethereal red wines that display seductive notes of violet and black cherry. With age they can take on tertiary notes of mushroom and moss; with high acidity and a form tannic backbone. Chianti Classico is the quintessential accompaniment to a host of traditional hearty Italian dishes.

Much further south, in the old town of Montalcino, an even more rustic interpretation of Sangiovese has seen its reputation develop from a cult wine to one carrying serious international prestige. Production has expanded rapidly to meet a seemingly endless thirst (American driven) and as such a dynamic scene of boutique wineries and estates have sprung up. While Brunello commands high prices, fuelled in part by a lengthy stay in wood, a more approachable Rosso di Montalcino provides a credible introduction to area.

Appellations of Tuscany

Aleatico Passito dell’Elba DOCG

Also known as Elba Aleatico Passito DOCG, this tiny appellation produces only Passito wines made from the Aleatico grape on the island of Elba.

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Bolgheri DOC

Bolgheri is often seen as the new frontier of Tuscan wine making. In recent decades there has been huge investment in this coastal appellation and there are now stunning wines to match.

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Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

Brunello di Montalcino is one of the great red wines of Italy. Produced around the Tuscan town of Montalcino from a clone of Sangiovese, known locally as Brunello, it has come to represent one of the iconic monuments of the Italian wine scene. Capable of ageing and improving for many years, Brunello wines are typically full-bodied and structured with incredible depth, concentration and complexity. There are now dozens of boutique producers creating exceptional single vineyard wines.

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Carmignano DOCG

Carmignano is a little known, but quality focussed DOCG in Tuscany. A short drive from Florence, the area covers red wines made from at least 50% Sangiovese. They often blended with Cabernet Franc and / or Cabernet Sauvignon.

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