Tuscany / Toscana
Tuscany… is there a scene in the world of wine more iconic than a cypress-lined vineyard? Even before the Greeks, wine played a central role in the daily life of this region. Ricasoli, Antinori, Frescobaldi – some of the world’s oldest – not just wine companies – but companies – are the great Tuscan wine families.
Tuscany is the largest region of central Italy, and has a broad range of wine styles. One can see this in the number of DOCGs and DOCs, in which it trails only Piemonte.
Tuscany makes history
Grand Duke Cosimo III de Medici made history with his 1716 Bando. This document protected wine making in Chianti and other areas. It was the forerunner to the disciplinare, the rulebook which all appellations must now have.
In the 1980’s, some winemakers broke from tradition, planting French grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. They employed experts and new techniques, tearing up the rule book, not just for Tuscan wine, but for red wine production all through the country. This marked the birth of the SuperTuscans.
Tuscany marks the beginning of Italy’s “Mediterranean” climate, which is when the sea affects day / night temperatures and the seasons. Meanwhile, the Apuan Alps in the north push away bad weather, keeping things dry and warm.
The coastal DOCs of Colli di Luni and Maremma enjoy cool sea winds. Low temperatures prompt the grapes to hang on to their acids at night. This makes for ageworthy wines with bright, fresh flavours.
Away from the sea, in the two-thirds of the region which is hilly, one finds some prized names. The list includes the eight zones of Chianti, as well as Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. There are many others. In these areas, the summers are hot and the winters are cold.