Super Tuscan

April 23, 2024 by
Maytte Rivera

Super Tuscan is a term used for wines made in the region of Tuscany in Italy that don’t adhere to the traditional winemaking laws for the area, including the use of non-native grape, vinification techniques, and ageing requirements.  In the late 1960’s, Italian winemakers started using international grape varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, sometimes combined with the local Sangiovese, to produce more structured wines. Since they didn’t follow the strict parameters to be labeled under the quality of Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), these wines were labeled “Vino de Tavola”, or table wine, along with inexpensive wines of lower quality.  They quickly gained global success, and as their price increased substantially, winemakers pushed for a new labeling term that separated them from the rest.  In 1995, the term Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) was created, allowing them to produce this style of wine under the Toscana IGT label.  Italian journalists started using the words “Super Tuscan” to describe these wines, even though it doesn’t have a legal meaning nor is it not allowed on the labels. Nowadays, the Bolgheri DOC in Toscana allows the full use of non-Italian varieties for their wines.

A Super Tuscan can be made from a blend of grapes, for example, Luce and Lucente, produced from Merlot and Sangiovese. Terrabianca “Campaccio” blends Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, while Castello Banfi “Summus is made of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Syrah.  Made for the first time in 1968, San Felice’s “Vigorello is one of the original Super Tuscans, produced using Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, and Pugnitello, an ancient Tuscan grape variety. However, a Super Tuscan can also be 100% Sangiovese but made with vinification techniques that are not sanctioned, like Isole e Olena “Ceparello”, which has been made since 1980.  All these wines are still labeled using the Toscana IGT designation.

Author: Maytte Rivera

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