Profile of Tuscany, Italian Wine Region
Tuscany Wine Map
Wine has literally been a part of the Tuscan civilization for over 3,000 years. From the time the ancient Etruscans settled in the gentle rolling hills of Tuscany,
viticulture and wine production have been an important element of everyday life and indeed was even considered to be mystical. Like the ancient Greeks, the vine and the
olive tree were not only fundamental to the Etruscan diet, but were also considered to be sacred plants with lifesaving properties. In this day and age when doctors are
constantly uncovering more proof of the health benefits of wine and Olive Oil, the
great irony is that the Etruscan realized this a few thousand years ago!
Winemaking in Tuscany has evolved over the centuries, with new practices being
introduced by the Romans, Christian monks in the Middle Ages and well-heeled aristocrats
during the Renaissance. Certain Tuscan wines famous today such as Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, have had a following and been well known outside of Italy since the
16th century. William III and Jonathan Swift both had a penchant for their Vino Nobile and Chianti was well known in the English court from the 17th century onwards.
Tuscany is a much larger region than many people realize and it encompasses many different wine regions and climate types. The one thing most regions
have in common is the selection of grape varietals. In general, Sangiovese is the dominant red varietal and Trebbiano is the dominant white varietal.
The north west of Tuscany is mountainous and is famous for the beautiful Apuan Alps, the San Pellegrino water source and for the marble quarries
that Michelangelo himself used to visit for his sculptures (which came from the village of Massa Carrara, a village that still quarries marble
today!) The climate in the north is continental with hot summers and freezing winters. Also in Northern Tuscany, the medieval walled town of Lucca is one of
the most beautiful destinations in Italy. Wine is made in the hills around Lucca going towards a village called Montecarlo, and the wine road is called
the Strada del Vino Colline Lucchesi e Montecarlo.
Further south you have Florence straight down and Pisa towards the coast. The wine
region around Pisa is called the "Colline Pisane". Florence is one of the famed "Citta d'Arte" (Art cities), referring to its enormous amount of Renaissance
architecture, painting and sculpture. This is where the famous region of Chianti begins. Chianti is actually quite a large wine producing area, with many sub
regions. Chianti Classico DOCG, the most prestigious of all the sub regions, runs
from Florence southwards towards lovely Siena. Badia a Coltibuono is an excellent
Chianti Classico producer. Chianti Rufina DOCG, the 2nd best sub region runs slightly northeastwards from Florence, and is very picturesque. Classic red
Chianti wine is made both with Sangiovese and even some white Trebbiano or Malvasia.
Southeast of Florence, lie the beautiful villages of Cortona and Arezzo and
the gorgeous medieval hamlets of Montalcino and Montepulciano. Montalcino
is most famous for its Brunello di Montalcino DOCG wines, made with a clone
of the Sangiovese, called both "Brunello" and "Sangiovese Grosso". The Brunello
wines are chic and expensive, with such excellent producers including Argiano. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG is named after its hamlet and is one of the
best wines in Italy, along with Brunello. The main grape to make Vino Nobile is Prunolo Gentile, again a clone of Sangiovese. Avignonese is a mythical Vino
Nobile producer (and also famous for their "Vin Santo" wines, made with dried "Passito" grapes).
Heading west, and then dipping south, you'll run into the coastal Maremma region.
The Maremma is where the "Super Tuscan" wines are made. These wines never received DOCG status from the regulatory councils, as they blended prohibited French varietals
such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with the local Sangiovese. For years, these expensive wines were ridiculously labelled as "Vino da Tavola", but in recent years
they have received DOC status. The most famous wines from this little touched wine region include Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Tua Rita and Petra. Finally, other wines of
note in Tuscany include Vernaccia di San Gimignano, made in the outskirts of the gorgeous town of San Gimignano. To conclude, Tuscany is extremely varied in
landscapes and wine styles and boasts some of the most well-known and superb wines made in Italy today.