Like a hero slowly drifting away under the setting sun many believe that the once formally glorified Super Tuscans have run their course. While this may be up for debate especially for Super Tuscan lovers and collectors it is still a question that begs discussion for the sake of newcomers to the world of wine. Are Super Tuscans still as super as their names make them out to be?
History of Super Tuscans
To truly understand the answer to this question one must first journey back to the humble origins of the wine. In Tuscany there were some very strict laws that governed wine production. The wines produced there are either labeled Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) or Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG). These labels basically assure the quality of the wine. There was also another category of table wine: Vino da Tavola (VDT). Wines that failed to meet the standards governing wine production were automatically placed in the category of vino da tavola or table wine.
A group of savvy wine makers in the 1970s saw that meeting the standards would seriously affect the quality of the wine they produced. Their vision would bring to life to the wines made in Italy. Inspired by Marquis Mario Incisa della Rocchetta another winemaker in Tuscany who broke every rule in the book they planted vineyards in what was considered bad locations and aged the wines in French barriques instead of the traditional Slovenian oak casts. Piero Antinori’s knowledge of the wines made by Incisa della Rocechetta give him the impetus to push forward to create his Tignanello in 1971. Over the years simple changes such as adding a bit of Merlot, leaving off the required dose of white Trebbiano or the inclusion of Cabernet Sauvignon in wine blends excluded these wines from qualifying for labels of DOC even if the wine itself could be easily recognized as Tuscan wine. Forced to use the label VDT usually reserved for cheap wines the wine makers hailed their wines as “top quality” and as the public’s tastes for the wine caught on Super Tuscan was the new term given to these wines.
Years later as the laws governing wine making have relaxed somewhat to reflect our current reality and the needs of the market another wine labeling category has been added called IGT (Indication of Geographical Type) which allows for broader variations of wines that come under the Tuscan regional label. Super Tuscans now fall within this new IGT category.
Super Tuscans as They Stand Today
Super Tuscans were so successful that the authorities governing the rules of winemaking in Italy made changes to the required grape composition in the 1990s. Due to this revision there are today many Super Tuscans that can now be classified as Chianti Classico. Some wine makers however have elected to keep the status of their wines as Super Tuscans due to the worldwide reputation that the wine has gained. Those that don’t fit the rule are called IGT.
You can expect to shell out a lot of money for these wines but there are a few affordable ones as well. It you do happen to get a good bottle (if you can find one) it will most definitely be a good investment the value of which will double and triple as time goes by.
Some of the older, better and more expensive Super Tuscans include the Sassicaia by Tenuta San Guido (developed by Marquis Mario Incisa della Rocchetta), Tiganello by Antinori, Gaja, Ca’Marcanda Promis and Fontalloro by Felsina. The Sassicaia is the oldest of the wines and is fact the inspiration for the development of other Super Tuscans and is the most expensive of the lot. The slightly more affordable Tignanello has been named a few times as the best affordable Super Tuscans. The Ca’Marcanda Promis and Fontalloro are more recent wines and are recognized as high quality but affordable wines.
Today there are a lot of other Super Tuscans that are wine lovers can easily afford that range from a little as $12 a bottle. These wines can excite the taste buds of those who enjoy fine wine. Collectors on the other hand can go for the more expensive brands and multiply their investment in time.
There is a growing community of wine connoisseurs and a special group who reserve a special place in their hearts and on their palettes for the unique taste that only Super Tuscans can bring. This site supertuscans.org aims to reach that special group bringing valuable information on the highest quality wines, the best rated Super Tuscans and news and insight to everything Tuscany.