The Evolution of Super Tuscans
30 AUG 2023
In the verdant hills of Tuscany, a wine revolution quietly unfolded in the 1970s, giving birth to the now-celebrated Super Tuscans. The rules back then stated that producing a Chianti — a region in Tuscany famed for its wine production — needed a minimum of 70% Sangiovese, a percentage of indigenous grapes, and at least 10% white wine.
Super Tuscan is a category that was born as a rebellion against the stringent Italian wine classification system.
Visionary winemakers, led by the now legendary Antinori, were keen to experiment beyond the confines of regional rules. They began blending indigenous Sangiovese grapes with international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and no white wine. The result? Wines that defied convention, yet resonated deeply with wine enthusiasts globally.
Initially, the 1971 Tignanello by Antinori and other similar blends were labelled as mere table wines, as they didn't adhere to the stringent Italian wine classification system. Their undeniable quality soon garnered international acclaim, overshadowing Chiantis and prompting a re-evaluation of their status. By the 1990s, the Italian wine regulation system introduced the "IGT" (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) designation, recognising the value and distinctiveness of Super Tuscans.
"Ultimately, however, the two have come to happily co-exist, and an argument can even be made that the investment and attention to detail inherent in the more ambitious IGT wines eventually rubbed off on the Chianti category," remarks renowned wine writer Guy Woodward, who explored this movement in his recent visit to COMO Castello del Nero and some of Tuscany's prestigious vineyards (for exclusive access to his expertise, both in Italy and Burgundy, sign up to COMO Hotels and Resorts’ newsletter, COMO Stories).
Chiantis, with their adherence to the Sangiovese requirement, present a medium-bodied profile that's approachable, brimming with red fruit notes, and crafted for more immediate enjoyment. Super Tuscan IGT wines, unburdened by stringent regulations, that embrace a diverse array of grapes, result in wines that are typically more robust, rich in dark fruit flavours, and can confidently rival the esteemed wines of Bordeaux. Together, these Tuscan treasures celebrate the region's rich vinicultural tapestry.
Visit COMO Castelo del Nero in the world-famous Chianti wine region to sample some of the renowned Super Tuscans as well as the property's own Sangiovese.
Reserve Your Table
We caught up with COMO's Master Sommelier Mathias Camilleri, who names his top five Super Tuscans:
1. Sassicaia - A trailblazer in the Super Tuscan category with its own DOC, Bolgheri Sassicaia, made with 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc, known for its elegant structure and profound depth, often drawing comparisons to Bordeaux's finest.
2. Le Macchiole 'Paleo' - A noteworthy Super Tuscan in Bolgheri, Paleo was initially a blend, but has since evolved into a pure Cabernet Franc wine, celebrated for its vibrant black fruit profile and velvety texture.
3. Tignanello - Produced by the esteemed Antinori estate, Tignanello was one of the first Super Tuscans to blend Sangiovese with non-indigenous varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, resulting in a wine that's both opulent and distinctly Tuscan.
4. Tenuta di Arceno - Nestled in the heart of Chianti Classico—the original and most central wine-producing region in Chianti—Tenuta di Arceno's Super Tuscans are often blends of Sangiovese with Bordeaux varieties, lauded for their complexity and age-worthiness.
5. Tenuta di Trinoro - Renowned for their avant-garde approach, Tenuta di Trinoro favours Bordeaux varieties. Their proprietary blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot offer depth and opulence that are a true expression of the terroir.
Try one of these Super Tuscans at the Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar, paired with a Veal Milanese or a Wagyu steak of your choice.