Newer Super-Tuscan Wines of Italy

The newer, red super-Tuscan wines were born in Italy when Chianti sales lost momentum in the 1970s. Progressive producers created these red wines — collectively known today as super-Tuscans — and caught the attention of the world.

The pioneering examples include Sassicaia, from Marchese Incisa della Rocchetta, and Tignanello and Solaia from Marchesi Antinori. These and similar wines can’t be called Chianti — either because they’re produced outside the Chianti zone or because their grape blend (generally Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and/or Sangiovese) doesn’t conform to DOC requirements for Chianti.

Today, dozens of super-Tuscan wines exist. Their grape blends vary; some producers use only native Tuscan grapes, while others use international varieties or a blend of Italian and international grapes. What these wines have in common is that they’re expensive, ranging from $45 on up to $80, with a few well over $100 per bottle. The most famous super-Tuscan wines, Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Masseto, and Solaia, prized by wine collectors, can cost $200 in good vintages.

Super-Tuscan wines can range in taste from very good Chianti-like wines to Bordeaux-type or California Cabernet-type wines, depending on the varying amounts of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and so on, and their specific vineyard areas. Decant young (less than ten years old) super-Tuscan wines two or three hours before serving.

Now that Chianti has reestablished itself in the world market, these relatively new wines have become less prominent — but most major Chianti producers still make a super-Tuscan wine.

Following are a dozen of the red super-Tuscan wines (listed alphabetically, with their grape blend; the producer’s name is in parentheses):

  • Cepparello — all Sangiovese (Isole e Elena)

  • Grattamacco — Sangiovese, Malvasia Nera, Cabernet Sauvignon (Grattamacco)

  • Masseto — all Merlot (Tenuta dell’Ornellaia)

  • Ornellaia — mainly Cabernet Sauvignon; some Merlot and/or Cabernet Franc (Tenuta dell’Ornellaia)

  • Percarlo — 100 percent Sangiovese (San Giusto a Rentennano)

  • Le Pergole Torte — entirely Sangiovese (Montevertine)

  • Prunaio — mainly Sangiovese (Viticcio)

  • Sammarco — 80 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 percent Sangiovese (Castello dei Rampolla)

  • Sassicaia — 75 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 25 percent Cabernet Franc (Tenuta San Guido)

  • I Sodi di San Niccolò — mostly Sangiovese (Castellare di Castellina)

  • Solaia — 80 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 percent Sangiovese (Antinori)

  • Tignanello — 80 percent Sangiovese, 20 percent Cabernet Sauvignon (Antinori)

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