“I have had enough of this nonsense about Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon not making typical Italian wines. In my opinion, the best of these wines have a distinctive character that is international in style but still thoroughly Italian.” wrote James Suckling in the April 30th issue of “Wine Spectator”.
As this is the opinion of a really great wine expert what better place to start talking to you about the Super Tuscan wines, which are produced in a small piece of land on the Tuscan coast around Bolgheri.
It was here, more than 40 years ago, that two great winemakers Mario Incisa della Rochetta and the Antinori brothers, along with the now world famous enologist Giacomo Tachis, started planting Cabernet Sauvignon and Franc. Thanks to the unique combination of the area’s climate and soil they began to produce wonderful wines such as Sassicaia and Ornellaia. However, as this area didn’t have a Denomination for these wines (DOC and DOCG), they were simply called “Vino da Tavola” (Table Wines). Foreign journalists tasting these superb wines exclaimed “But these are not just simple table wines, these are Super Tuscan wines!”. This expression became a way to define wines made with international grapes, often in a blend with the main Tuscan grape, Sangiovese. By this time other forward-looking winemakers understood the importance of experimenting with new grapes including Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah, aged in French oak barriques to create new interesting modern wines.
Super Tuscans are very powerful wines with a great balance of alcohol, acidity and soft tannins, best matched with rich meats or very mature cheeses.
In the last two years “Ornellaia” 1998 and “Solaia” 1997, have been named Wine Spectator’s “Wines of the Year”. I could say more, but you really should try them to understand what is so “Super” about the Super Tuscans.