Super Tuscan was a term coined by wine critics to describe red wines from Tuscany being produced outside of the stipulations of the regions. In almost all wine areas, there are strict laws around which grapes can go into the bottle if you want to be able to write the region on the label. For example, if you want to list Brunello di Montalcino on your label it must be 100% sangiovese along with other aging requirements.
For most consumers a ‘Super Tuscan’ denotes that a wine will be big, bold, and powerful. Many of the more well known Super Tuscans are blends of Bordeaux varieties like cabernet sauvignon and merlot. Most of these wines get high point ratings year over year. There are many vintages which get 100 points too. However, there’s also a group of wines which are considered Super Tuscans but they are 100% sangiovese and from the Chianti Classico region.
One of the first one’s was made by the Antinori family and it’s still very well known today: Tignanello. The Antinori family are Italy’s most commercially successful winemakers. They’ve either started, bought, or sold nearly any and every large brand name we associate with Italian wine. They are genius marketers and once upon a time, they were genius winemakers too, which leads us to Tignanello. It’s a blend of the native sangiovese grape and also has a large percentage of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc to give it richness. Tignanello is a vineyard in the Chianti Classico region, but due to the blend they can’t write that on the label.
Just before Tignanello, Sassicaia was made from Tenuta San Guido on the coast utilizing only Bordeaux grapes. The first vintage was in 1968. It’s a remarkable wine and the winery has been family run since then. Sassicaia is a blend of cabernet sauvignon and a small amount of cabernet franc from the coastal part of Tuscany.
The confusing part about Super Tuscans is there’s no way to know what they taste like without knowing what the producer uses for grapes. There’s a group of the top winemakers in Chianti Classico who used 100% sangiovese, a much lighter and either grape in their wines. This was a protest because up until recently it was illegal for them to use just this grape.
In short, Super Tuscan is a confusing term but there are many great wines which came from the movement. Here’s our rundown on the Super Tuscans we believe are top notch.
The light and earthy ones which are some of the best wines from Tuscany are:
The big and rich ones which remind us more of Bordeaux:
Tenuta San Guido
Best vintages of Sassicaia are:
1985, 1988, 1990, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2010, 2016
Best vintages of Tignanello are:
1983, 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1997, 2000