What’s the first thing that springs to mind when you think of Tuscany? There are a lot of things it could be – the stunning Renaissance cities of Florence, Siena, and Pisa for example.
Or how about the world-famous art in the Uffizi Museum, like Michelangelo’s statue of David or Botticelli’s Birth of Venus? Still no?
Well, maybe it’s the incredible wine that the region is famous for. It is? Great. After all, Tuscany is one of the world’s most notable wine regions. In this post, we’ll have a look at the finest wines Tuscany has to offer, leaving you salivating and wondering how soon you can get yourself there.
If you wish to discover Tuscany through its wonderful wines, check out our Food and wine tours in Tuscany!
Let’s start with arguably one of Tuscany’s finest wines. Hailing from the tiny municipality of Montalcino near Siena, Brunello di Montalcino is produced exclusively here and is made up completely of Sangiovese grapes. In a region steeped in tradition, this fine red wine was born in an experiment in the late nineteenth century.
The growers who conducted the experiment identified the grapes’ quality and longevity, and bottles can be aged between 10 and 30 years. It’s said to get even better the longer it’s aged. The wine actually has to be in production for 5 years before it can be commercialised, according to DOCG rules. It’s one of three Sangiovese DOCG wines produced in the region.
Try the exclusive private tour to discover Brunello di Montalcino.
Chianti is best known for being Hannibal Lecter’s drink of choice (and yes, it does taste great with fava beans. Not sure about human liver though), however Chianti is a huge wine producing region with a number of different varieties, since it was officially recognised in 1716.
Chianti Classico is only produced in 14 municipalities of the region, with 12 in the province of Florence and 2 in Siena. This red wine is produced from 80% Sangiovese grapes, and the remaining 20% is a mixture of grapes native to the region, or sometimes those from even further afield.
You’ll recognise Chianti Classico from its distinctive black rooster label, introduced in 1924 to prevent and protect against wine fraud. It’s another of the Sangiovese DOCG wines produced in Tuscany.
Check our semiprivate tour from Florence to Chianti with wine tasting and lunch.
The third of Tuscany’s Sangiovese DOCG wines, Nobile di Montepulciano shouldn’t be confused with the similarly named Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Although it’s perhaps not as well-known as the two wines above, or the Super Tuscan wines which we’ll get to later, Nobile gets its imperial name as it was a favourite among not only Italian royalty, but politicians, and even popes to.
The red wine is made from grapes grown in or near the town of Montepulciano, and a minimum of 70% of those which go into the wine must be of the Sangiovese variety, before it’s aged for at least 2 years before being made available to the general public.
Many producers forego their right to blend with other grapes and make it with 100% Sangiovese, just like Brunello. Because it hasn’t yet been discovered in America, it’s cheaper than the other Sangiovese DOCG wines, so get your hands on some before they find out!
Discover the Val d'orcia area wine roads (Pienza, Montepulciano and Montalcino) in one day from Florence.
Bolgheri is actually a former Super Tuscan wine. However, it has shed that label and made a name for itself. Not only the wine, but the wine zone itself is relatively young, with the first Bolgheri wine going on sale in 1968.
The wine is titled after the village of the same name, which runs parallel with the Tuscan coast in Maremma, a swampland until the 1930s. The reason these wines are so good is that the majority are blended with grapes known as ‘the Bordeaux trio’ – Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.
The first Bolgheri vintage did not arrive until post millennium, but the fact that vineyards get better with age can only mean that exciting times are ahead for Bolgheri wines, and even more so for wine enthusiasts.
Book our exclusive private tour of Bolgheri to discover the best wines.
Hailing from the Tuscany’s southern border with Lazio, and the coastal region of Maremma, Scansano’s vineyards are a short distance from the world’s most famous free hot springs, the Terme di Saturnia. Which incidentally isn’t a bad place to take a bottle.
This wine isn’t smooth and refined like a Chianti, but a powerful wine that isn’t for lightweights. It’s said to be the perfect complement to traditional Maremman gastronomy – think hearty wild boar stews, bread and cheese, and thick soups.
Morellino de Scansano is a humble wine for a humble cuisine. Although the wine is becoming better known across Italy, many Maremmans still make their own version of it at home.
No, these wines do not wear a cape. Although that could be a good marketing idea… The term actually comes from the 1930s, when Tuscan wine producers were competing with the fine wines of neighbouring France.
They wanted to experiment with different grapes to produce wines to rival those across the border, but DOCG rules meant that these blends and mixtures had to be called “Vino da Tavola,” (table wine) synonymous with being cheap and low quality.
Somehow this didn’t seem fair, especially for such high quality wines. Therefore, they name Super Tuscan was born and nowadays, it’s one of the most respected varieties of Italian wine. The best-known are Tignanello and Sassicaia.
The only Tuscan white wine to have DOCG status, Vernaccia was actually one of the very first Italian fine wines when the DOCG system was conceived in 1966. It goes back way longer than that though and was even mentioned in Dante’s divine comedy.
Vernaccia comes from one of Tuscany’s most mysterious and evocative towns, San Gimignano. Squint and its distinctive towers make it look like a medieval New York. No? Maybe after another glass then. According to DOCG rules, the wine must be made up predominantly of Vernaccia grapes, but a few producers sneak in some Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling grapes too.
There are Vernaccia regions in Le Marche and Sardinia too, so make sure that when you buy the wine San Gimignano is written on the bottle too.