This region is undoubtedly the most famous wine region in Italy. When you say Tuscany, you think of wine. And especially to the Chianti, which has been exported for decades. Initially in large quantities in the well-known demijohns, the 'fiaschi', but later also as quality wine in the regular 'bordeaux' bottle.
More information about the Toscany region
With DOCG label and the logo of the 'Gallo Nero', the Zwarte Haan. Nowadays, the term 'Gallo Nero' is hardly used anymore, because of a process won by the well-known American wine brothers Gallo against the use of the proper name by the Tuscan Consortium of the Chianti Classico. The Gallo Nero Consortium was then forced to change the name. Since then, the Gallo Nero Consortium has been called 'Consorzio del Marchio Storico - Chianti Classico' (Consortium of the Historical Brand of the Chianti Classico). However, the logo of the Zwarte Haan could be maintained. And so it happened.
Among the classified wines from all over Italy, the Chianti continues to lead the production volume, along with the Sangiovese di Romagna and the Soave from the Veneto.
In the 1970s, a so-called 'modern renaissance' in wine took place in Tuscany. A drastic reduction in the production and use of modern techniques in the vineyard and cellars eventually led to 6 DOCG classifications and 33 DOCs which together make up 45% of the total vineyard area (63,500 hectares). The region also has 5 IGTs.
In addition to the Chianti Classico, the following wines have received a DOCG classification: Brunello di Montalcino (1980), Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (1981), Chianti (1984), Carmignano (1991) and the Vernaccia di San Gimignano (1993).
The fact that two different DOCGs have been assigned to the Chianti has everything to do with the production area. The term 'Classico' stands for the most original part of the production area, the heart of the production zone, as it were. Since there are slightly stricter rules for the production of Chianti from the 'Classico' area than for 'normal' Chianti, the Chianti Classico received its own DOCG in 1996. The production area of the Chianti Classico lies exclusively in the provinces of Florence and Siena, while the production area of the 'ordinary' Chianti covers 7 sub-zones, all of which may be named by name on the label: Colli Aretini, Colli Senesi, Colli Fiorentini, Colline Pisane, Montalbano, Montespertoli and Rùfina. These sub zones are spread over 6 of the 10 Tuscan provinces.
What the Chianti has in common with other traditional red wines of the region is the grape variety, the Sangiovese. A Chianti, Classico or not, must contain at least 75% Sangiovese, possibly supplemented with Canaiolo nero and / or Trebbiano Toscano.
'Superiore' can be put on the label when the wine contains at least 12% alcohol. The term 'Riserva', on the other hand, is reserved for those wines that have been aged for at least 2 years. In the past, the Chianti was usually a blend of the above grape varieties. But in recent years, the emphasis has increasingly shifted to the production of Chianti exclusively from the Sangiovese. These pure Sangiovese wines are usually rich in structure and taste, provided they have a good harvest year. Some are ready to drink almost immediately, others require a few years of bottle maturation to achieve a round and soft wine with a uniquely rich and fruity bouquet. The lighter versions of the Chianti are good accompaniments to simple, light dishes (antipasti) and pizza, but the more mature and modern Chianti is a good accompaniment to fried and grilled red meat, various pasta dishes and aged hard cheeses.
However, the most prestigious wine in Tuscany is the Brunello di Montalcino. This DOCG wine comes from the area around Montalcino, south of Siena. It was the Biondi-Santi family that caused a furore with a clone of the Sangiovese, the Brunello, more than a century ago. The wine already obtained a DOCG classification in 1980, the absolute first in Italy. A Brunello has an intense ruby red color, which tends to garnet red with age, a very refined nose, a warm, robust and complex taste. The finish is long and intense. The wine may only be marketed after 6 years of maturation, of which at least 2 years in a wooden barrel, and is ideally suited for game dishes and stews. The Rosso di Montalcino DOC is actually the younger and less handsome brother of the Brunello di Montalcino. In good years, the best grapes for the Brunello are selected, the others are used to make the Rosso. In less good years it can therefore be the case that only Rosso di Montalcino is produced. Due to the very high requirements for the Brunello, we can nonetheless assume that a Rosso can also yield good wine, moreover at a lower price.
The Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, also DOCG, comes from the hills around the town of the same name. A dry, powerful, full-bodied and balanced wine, good with various meat dishes and game. The same applies to the Rosso di Montepulciano as to the Rosso di Montalcino.
In the province of Prato, not far from Florence, the Carmignano DOCG is made. A rare red wine from mainly the Sangiovese (at least 50%), supplemented with Canaiolo nero and / or Cabernet Sauvignon. Again a full red wine, with an intense fruity bouquet and a dry, velvety taste. The Barco Reale of Carmignano is also a beautiful red wine, albeit 'only' with a DOC classification.
The last DOCG concerns a white wine: the Vernaccia di San Gimignano. This dry, pale yellow wine was the first wine in all of Italy to receive DOC status in 1966, the G only followed 27 years later. Since the DOC award, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano has prospered. Production was increased significantly to meet demand at home and abroad. The fact that large prices are still being paid for this wine today is not in particular due to the grape variety Vernaccia, which would produce better wines than its neighbors, but rather to the marketing conducted.
Of course, the picturesque village of San Gimignano with its medieval 'skyscrapers' plays an important role in this. Although there are now a number of producers who make really beautiful wines from the Vernaccia, the majority still sail on the waves of success. Either way, Michelangelo loved it anyway. He wrote of the Vernaccia as a wine that "kisses, licks, bites, punches and stings". In addition to the traditional DOCG and DOC classifications, Tuscany has also become known for its so-called 'Super Tuscan'. Wines from very ambitious producers who did not care much about the rules of the wine legislation at the time in the 1970s. They made wines according to their own insight and quickly gained fame with it at home and abroad. The Sassicaia and the Tignanello are clear examples of this. Made from international grape varieties with the Cabernet Sauvignon predominating, supplemented or not with the Sangiovese, these wines went around the world as an example of modern Italian wine culture. Other producers soon followed suit. The problem, however, was that the wines were not made according to the rules in force at the time and therefore had to be (de-) classified as table wine (Vini da Tavola). The producers were not bothered. The high prices charged for the wines were only affordable for a select audience of wine lovers, which had already been reached.
The Sassicaia now has its own DOC as Bolgheri Sassicaia. The Tignanello (Cabernet / Sangiovese) of the respectable Antinori family was a model for the New Winemaking in which instead of large oak barrels, only barrique (small wooden barrels of French oak) were used. The limited production of Tignanello is still on the market as Vino da Tavola. Both are powerful red wines, with a rich bouquet and a full, harmonious and complex taste. Today, almost every Tuscan winemaker of any fame has a similar showpiece as a 'calling card' on the wine list.
Under the DOC classification we find some very nice wines. We mention a few. The Pomino DOC includes a red wine from the Cabernet, the Merlot and the Sangiovese, suitable with pork liver, steak, fennel and various salamis, and a delicate, juicy white wine from the Pinot and Chardonnay. Excellent with a variety of fresh salads and seafood. Red wines that are currently on the rise, following the success of the Super Tuscan, are those that fall under the DOCs of Morellino di Scansano, Val di Cornia, Montecucco, Monteregio di Massa Marittima, Montescudaio, Capalbio and Sovana .
The pride of many Tuscan winemakers is undoubtedly the rich, sweet Vin Santo. Originally a Mis wine, but due to its popularity it has grown into a true phenomenon, known at home and abroad. The wine is mainly marketed as a white version of the dried grapes of the Trebbiano and / or Malvasia. The rare red version is made from the Sangiovese. The white Vin Santo is a golden yellow to amber wine with an intense bouquet, a powerful, rich and complex taste with notes of a lot of ripe fruit. The alcohol content is around 17%. Traditionally it is drunk with the Tuscan Cantuccini, hard almond biscuits, which the Tuscan dips in the wine, but the wine is also very suitable as a companion of various fruit cakes and even as an aperitif.