Tuscan Wines 101

When we think of Tuscan wine, we think of Sangiovese!

This red grape is the backbone of most of Tuscany’s great wines. Sangiovese may be made into varietal wines (i.e., wines made of 100% Sangiovese), or it may be blended with other red varieties.

Tuscany is home to a huge range of other wine styles as well. Scroll down to learn about our favorites.

A few of our favorite Tuscan wines:

Chianti – The best-known incarnation of the red Sangiovese blends, Chianti can be made from any number of Sangiovese clones, and it shows a wide range of flavor and aroma profiles. Young, fresh Chianti may offer notes of raspberries and sage on the nose, and an almost ephemeral palate supported by only slightly astringent acidity.

Chianti Classico Riserva – At the other end of the spectrum, Riservas, which are frequently aged in new oak, can be deep and brooding. Typical flavors include underbrush, blackberries, cocoa, baking spices, violets, and iron.

Brunello di Montalcino – Made from the Brunello clone of the Sangiovese grape, these red wines are among the most complex and rich expressions of Sangiovese. The soils in these hillside vineyards yield robust, voluptuous wines with great depth and aging potential. Notes of leather, earth, plums, and spices are typical. Brunello is the most tannic and the most potentially age-worthy expression of Sangiovese. Rosso di Montalcino, however, is a much more approachable red. Rosso is what Italians drink while they wait for their Brunello to mature.

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – These reds are made from the Prugnolo di Montepulciano clone of Sangiovese, with the addition of up to 20% of other varieties (traditionally Canaiolo). Arid hillside vineyards produce wines with a distinct, almost sandy soil tone. Tasters often detect flavors of herbs, chocolate, and both fresh and dried red fruits on the palate. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano represents the more floral side of Sangiovese: the wines tend to show impressive balance even upon release, which allows them to be consumed young. Many will continue to improve with mid-term cellaring.

Super Tuscans – This term refers to high-quality Tuscan wines that fall outside of DOC regulations (many are labeled “IGT” for “Indicazione Geografica Tipica,” although IGT wines may also be found elsewhere in Italy). There are many reasons why a wine might not fit into the regulations of the area in which it was grown. By operating outside of these regional standards, winemakers are free to experiment with non-traditional grape varieties, to employ more modern fermentation techniques, and so on. Super Tuscans may be 100% Sangiovese, or they can be blends of other varieties – indigenous or international. These bottles are great candidates for cellaring, as they are often heavily oaked. Many of the great ones need to breathe in a decanter for a few hours before being enjoyed.

Click here to see all of our Tuscan wines!