The Carlino’s Restaurant wine poll (please see results below) has revealed that our customers most prefer Cabernet Sauvignon and Chianti Classico. They’re in good company; Italian vintners have spent millennia perfecting Italian Cabernet Sauvignon and Chianti wines. But nowhere else will you find such a unique set of climatic and geological conditions combine to form perfection more pronounced than in Tuscany.
Although grapes grow well throughout the country, Tuscan wines have a well-deserved reputation for quality. The fine marble that comes from Tuscany gives a hint about what makes the wines from there so special. The limestone-rich soils, famous for the marble produced from this region, is also the key to imparting the grapes with the robust mellow flavor that rival the other great wines of the world.
The Tuscan Reds: Super-Tuscan Wines
If there was an Italian wine that resembled the incredible creative power and artisanal mastery of Michelangelo it would be the Super-Tuscans. While some Italian wines use only Sangiovese, many also integrate Cabernet Sauvignon which bestows Bordeaux wines with their characteristic full-bodied flavor. Here in the warm Mediterranean climate, Cabernet Sauvignon grapes lends a different spiciness to the character of wines typically grown in French fields. The Super-Tuscans combine Italian Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon to create a new elite class of Italian wines.
Super-Tuscan wines evolved almost by accident. Chianti winemakers served these blends on their own tables, but never sold them until recently. The organization that oversees Italian winemaking, the DOC, didn’t know what to make of these wines that didn’t quite fit the guidelines for Chianti, but were so clearly related. Rather than fight their way through the DOC’s regulations, growers began producing their delectable Tuscan red wines and selling them without DOC categorization.
Wine lovers around the world quickly embraced these wines even without the DOC’s stamp of approval. The maverick winemakers’ instincts were correct; everyone loves these Cabernet Sauvignon-based Tuscan reds.
The oldest of the Super-Tuscans, Tenuta san Guido’s Sassicaia relies exclusively on Cabernet Sauvignon for its bold and complex taste. Wine-makers are notoriously secretive about their art, but it’s highly rumored that Sassicaia’s Tuscan fields were first planted with vines taken from Château Lafite-Rothschild. Recently, many wine enthusiasts have come to realize that Sassicaia has been eclipsed by Ornellaia, a rival from a neighboring vineyard. Although Super-Tuscan wines share similar characteristics from the same micro-region, blending and aging does make the difference. If you get the chance, try them both.
These are richly tannic and full-bodied wines with enough acidity to pair beautifully with tomato-based Italian sauces and flavorful game.
Carlo, Wali and all your friends at Carlino’s
(Note: This is the first of a two part series on Tuscan Red Wines. Next we focus on The Original Tuscan Red Wine: Chianti Classico)
According to Carlino’s Restaurant’s latest poll, 1/3 of our customers prefer Cabernet Sauvignon, 1/4 Chianti Classico, followed by Pinot Noir, Merlot, and Brunello.Tweet