Tuscany: Behind the Producers

A guide to buying the best Tuscan bottles

 


Now that you know about where Tuscan wine comes from and how it is made, you’re probably anxious to taste some of it for yourself. But since Tuscan wines can be tricky to shop for (especially for those of us who can’t read Italian), we have some tips for navigating the wine shop and finding the perfect bottle.

Unlike New World wines, the name of the varietal isn’t always listed on the bottle’s label, so there are some terms you should be familiar with to ensure you are really buying the wine you want.
Chianti Classico Riserva refers to wines within the Chianti region that must contain at least 80% Sangiovese. This wine is a DOCG (the highest quality), and the word “riserva” means that it has been aged for at least 2 years.

Toscana (Rosso) is a sort of all-encompassing term for wines that did not fit into traditional Tuscan guidelines, like the “Super Tuscans.”

Brunello di Montalcino is actually the name for a clone of Sangiovese (“brunello” meaning “little brown one”) that comes from the region of Montalcino. These wines are always made from 100% Sangiovese and must be aged for at least four years.

Terminology aside, there are also some key producers to keep an eye out for when shopping for or ordering Tuscan wine. Although white wines are certainly produced within Tuscany, the reds are really the ones that stand out.

If you’re in the mood for a classic taste of Chianti, opt for Ruffino, one of the leading producers of traditional Chianti. If you’re reluctant about buying Chianti, try Ruffino’s Chianti Classico Riserva. It strikes the perfect balance of citrus, berry and earthy flavors with a velvety texture. These wines are also very reasonably priced and have great value.

Sassicaia is a fantastic producer of Super Tuscan wines that blend Sangiovese with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Although these wines tend to be steeply priced, with proper aging they can rival any top Bordeaux. But you don’t have to break the bank to sample a classic Tuscan blend.

Antinori is an Italian producer that dates all the way back to 1385. This producer played a major role in the 1970’s when the Super Tuscans were making their name, and was one of the first wineries to impress critics with their signature Tignanello blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. This wine can be both refined and powerful with rich berry flavors and soft tannins.

Vin Santo is a sweet Tuscan dessert wine made from blends of white grapes and Sangiovese. Originally drunk during Mass, this is now a common after-dinner drink. Oak aging and slow fermentation result in a delicate, creamy, honey-roasted flavor with a vivid yellow hue to the wine. Barone Ricasoli makes a classic vin santo at a moderate price.

Mentioned in this article

Comments

  • Snooth User: huns
    336873 1

    nice short overview for a novice just beginning to explore wine. would enjoy a more advanced look somewhere on this site. didnt really provide much info for me.

    Aug 02, 2010 at 2:45 PM


  • Snooth User: mkozlow
    357786 5

    I have to agree. Was looking for more than this overview.

    Aug 02, 2010 at 4:47 PM


  • I thought you could have added a bit more detail and the recommendations were frankly weak, surely you can recommend something better than the mass produced Ruffino or Tignanello?

    Aug 02, 2010 at 4:57 PM


  • Snooth User: raffy cavy
    546211 11

    you are just sharing what an Italian know by just being born in Italy...as an Italian, i was expecting for more.

    Aug 02, 2010 at 5:12 PM


  • Snooth User: Alister
    300449 1

    Just drank a bottle of Camartina '99 one of the original Super Tuscans by Querciabella, which was perfectly delicious, with a wonderfully earthy, rustic edge.

    Aug 02, 2010 at 5:18 PM


  • Snooth User: vinsider
    541543 48

    I know it's just an article but it could have delved into a great deal more helpful info. Anyone can find the wines you mentioned. I would encourage buying something other than the big commercial lines, with the exception of Sassicaia. If you can every get your hands on a Fontodi Chianti, do so. Salut!

    Aug 02, 2010 at 5:25 PM


  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 180,669

    I'm happy to recommend Querciabella for the Chianti Classico as one of the best values in the region. (Also producers of Camartina, as Alister mentioned.)

    As for Chianti Classico Riserva, I'd go for Monsanto. Great value and amazing wine.

    Aug 02, 2010 at 5:25 PM


  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 7,837

    Again, this is exceedingly simplistic. Has any recognition been made of the criticisms regarding the previous two articles in this series? If the content of the three articles had been combined into one airline magazine article circa 1990, it might've been acceptable, but on Snooth in 2010???

    Aug 02, 2010 at 5:52 PM


  • Snooth User: NY luigi
    546240 1

    another producer you should look at is Barone Ricasoli. unknown in the USA they have a very good reputation in Europe. one of the oldest winery in the world, they invented Chianti. http://www.ricasoli.it/

    Aug 02, 2010 at 5:58 PM


  • Snooth User: wimryan
    250731 14

    As someone who is on the way to Tuscany in a month, I saw this in my in-box and opened it immediately. What a downer....
    I would classify myself as a relative novice in this department, and even I could tell you that it is tough to go wrong with Tignanello or Sassicaia. I was hoping for some "pearls", you know? Those rare finds or great buys that can compete with the big boys, but are lesser known and commercialized. As it appears that Snooth and their contributors aren't going to help me out here, anyone out there have any suggestions? I love Brunellos and Supertuscans, tend to shy away from Chiantis, but would welcome any help.
    Thanks in advance;

    William Ryan

    Aug 02, 2010 at 7:01 PM


  • Snooth User: rudygirolo
    544309 18

    superb
    http://www.laportadivertine.it/en/h...

    Aug 02, 2010 at 7:59 PM


  • Snooth User: ddslwyr
    514062 13

    I have been finding all the recent reviews, like this one, almost insult the intelligence of the reader. If this is a primer on wine, then I need to know so I can look elsewhere for my information. This lack of information is not worth my time.

    Aug 02, 2010 at 8:39 PM


  • It is always hard writing about wine regions. There are so many producers in Tuscany that I am sure that it would take more than one page to cover even half of them. You can try many wines from any region and find many different styles due the different wine making styles. So best get cracking and do my own research, which is a lot more fun.
    Ciao. htp://www.wineandmore.co.nz

    Aug 02, 2010 at 8:51 PM


  • It is always hard writing about wine regions. There are so many producers in Tuscany that I am sure that it would take more than one page to cover even half of them. You can try many wines from any region and find many different styles due the different wine making styles. So best get cracking and do my own research, which is a lot more fun.
    Ciao. htp://www.wineandmore.co.nz

    Aug 02, 2010 at 8:51 PM


  • Snooth User: vestor
    138026 8

    i have book "Vinho Italiano".
    Lots of advance info for vinophiles, interspersed with Geography, Culture and recipes from Mario Batelli. A bit dated, but does detail the many (30+) varietals. Also lots of cross reference indexing.
    Enjoy!

    Aug 02, 2010 at 8:53 PM


  • I have to agree the articles by this author are virtually useless unless you are a complete novice, and to be honest for a website that purports to be serious about wine they are way below expectation. My suggestion is you find a writer who really knows what they're talking about to be on your front page and keep this author for another section, perhaps labelled clearly as "for the beginner"?

    Aug 02, 2010 at 11:02 PM


  • Agree with all of the above negative comments. Since when did Sassicaia have Sangiovese in it? And now-a-days I don't even think they are adding Merlot (could be wrong there)
    Ruffino, shocking reference for a one stop Chianti producer. Further more describing Chianti Riserva as citrus, berry and earth is weak and quite frankly a turn off.

    I'm LOL at reading the tag line - A guide to buying the best Tuscan bottles - Is that a joke and your article the punch line?

    Toscana (Rosso) wtf is that ? - How many wines have that writing on the label? ZERO is the answer. The label might state - IGT Toscana

    Nothing on Vino Nobile? Wow

    And on the super tuscan front - VdT or Maremma Rosso ?
    Morrelino di scansano
    Carmignano
    Vernaccia... too many to mention

    Guys please, go to Wiki school at least before you insult your readers again

    Meanwhile I'm only wasting my time here to entertain myself it's like my daily rant these days, like therapy or something.

    Looking forward to adding my next entry. Well done Snooth you're making a real contribution to the online wine web.

    If anyone can recommend a valuable article on Snooth please do let me know.

    Aug 02, 2010 at 11:18 PM


  • Comment attempt 3

    Aug 03, 2010 at 6:51 AM


  • Sassicaia is pure cabernet.
    Its very nice wine, but not sangiovese.

    Tenuta Al Poggio CR 2006 is very nice and not so well known. These wines go well with offal and cheaper cuts of meat like chicken livers very well.

    Fontodi - now thats a Chianti. Also Beradenga, Selvapiana, Fontalloro

    Aug 03, 2010 at 6:54 AM


  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 221,069

    Hi Folks,

    Thanks for all the comments. This was really just a primer, but not the last word on Tuscany here at Snooth. I've written several in depth articles on Tuscany and Tuscan wines and am getting ready to begin writing the Wine 101 series for Italian wine.

    That several installment long series will touch on many of the most popular Italian wines, but even that will not be nearly comprehensive.

    For that I'll have to begin a Wine 201 Series! And if you give me some time I'll start working on that soon.

    Aug 03, 2010 at 9:28 AM


  • Snooth User: panzwagn
    133783 3

    Lame, Lamer, Lamest. Incomplete, erroneous, and in many cases, just simply wrong. Not worth the electricity it took to light up my monitor. So let me help:

    Tucany = Sangiovese. Sangiovese = Chianti. 3Yrs aging makes it a Reserva. THe center of the region makes it a Classico. Other Centers of Sangiovese production that each have unique approaches, and as a result, unique wines and their own DOCG: the hill towns of Montalcino (Brunello di Montalcino, expensive and frequently as good as Sangiovese gets and 'baby brunello' Rosso di Montalcino, from younger vines and much better value). Due South, Montepulciano (Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a blend of 70% Sangiovese plus Cananiolo Nero, and maybe a touch of something local plus 2 yrs in oak, and 3 for a reserva) and to the southwest in the Maremma, Scansano (Morellino di Scansano, 85% Sangiovese, plus one or more of the following: Cabernet Sauvignon, Canaiolo Nero Alicante, Ciliegiolo, Malvasia, Mammolo, Merlot, Nera, Nero Francese). The Cab S are typically more structured and the Merlot more fruit forward; both very 'modern' wines.

    All four, Chianti, Montalcino, Montepulciano, and Scansano DOCGs make wines worthy of exploration.

    Aug 03, 2010 at 11:15 AM


  • I was curious about chianti, and asked a friend about it the other day. I guess I now have somewhere to start.

    Aug 03, 2010 at 12:00 PM


  • WOW, if I wanted to listen to a bunch of whining, complaining, time wasters, I'd have tuned into "The View". Hey people, enough about your finding the article 'just an ordinary overview'...that's what it is. All you so-called wine experts have the vast knowledge of the INTERNET at your disposal.. Ever heard of it? Stop complaining and using up comment space.

    Aug 03, 2010 at 12:05 PM


  • Agree with dillon. People should take these articles for what they are. If you want to add to the article just make your comment without put- downs. I frequent an Italian restaurant in the neighborhood and have tried Ruffino's Chianti Classic Riserva which is a unassuming delightful and inexpensive bottle. Always makes my day...

    Aug 03, 2010 at 3:03 PM


  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 7,837

    The frustrations with this article (series) are legitimate, especially since Snooth has already received similar feedback on earlier installments, long before this one appeared. Better editorial attention is warranted here. I'm also curious why the article falls within the 'wine reviews' category, since no actual wines are reviewed. Wouldn't it/they be better placed under 'wine regions' or even 'wine varieties'?

    Aug 03, 2010 at 5:09 PM


  • panzwagn's review was better than the article itself, dillonsparks and sanielsh1015, in that it had more information about sangioveses and a tip for rosso di montalcino and montepulciano wines> These are relatively underpriced, and great with pizza, poultry, offal, tomato based dishes.

    Aug 04, 2010 at 4:41 AM


  • Hi Guys,

    Thank you so much for your feedback- the good, the bad & the UGLY :) Snooth is a wine community where we all learn and share so let's stay in the spirit of learning and sharing. A special thanks to all of you who posted constructive, helpful comments with your excellent recommendations and facts. As Gregory mentioned, the assignment for this article was for a BASIC overview. Those were the instructions provided to me & I followed them!

    My knowledge of wine is extensive and I am certainly not taking a wine snob approach with this article as that was not the purpose of this piece.

    Here are some of my favorite wines from Tuscany:

    Banfi Centine Toscana 2005- blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot and simply amazing. I buy it for $10.50-13.00.

    Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia 2006 is a major splurge but worth it.

    Antinori Guado al Tasso 2006 is also a slightly expensive and classy choice. The aromas of blackberry, dark fruit and hints of vanilla will wow you.

    Let me know if you want some additional picks.

    Divya

    Aug 04, 2010 at 11:31 AM


  • Lots of mistakes, for example: Since 90thies Brunello di Montalcino must be aged at ONLY TWO YEARS.

    Aug 05, 2010 at 4:57 AM


  • Hi again everyone,
    I wanted to include some more of my favorite producers for Tuscan wines. I highly recommend all of these. I hope you enjoy.

    Chianti Classico Riserva, La Selvanella, Melini 2005

    Brunello di Montalcino (sangiovese), Poggio San Polo 2003

    Cabernet Franc, Walter, Poggio Al Tesoro 2005.

    Sangiovese/Merlot/Sabernet Sauvignon, Lucente Vineyards 2007

    Cabernet Sauvignon, Mormoreto, Marchesi de Frescobaldi 2006


    Thank you again for all your feedback.

    Divya

    Aug 05, 2010 at 12:46 PM


  • thanks for keeping easy to understand,short & simple for a beginner into wine like me.

    Aug 08, 2010 at 1:07 PM


  • Snooth User: April Yap
    546515 4

    I personally am not from Italy and I am not that “street wise” when knowing what label goes with which. I applaud you for posting this information. I hope you do more post such as this sometime in the future.

    Aug 10, 2010 at 10:29 PM


  • Snooth User: Amantivino
    400043 11

    I think all this criticism is a bit harsh. From the first sentence it is clear that this is meant to be a basic overview.

    "Now that you know about where Tuscan wine comes from and how it is made, you’re probably anxious to taste some of it for yourself."

    Everyone has a different level of wine knowledge. Wine is incredibly intimidating for those just beginning to explore it and fear that they will be exposed as "ignorant" (or subject to a barrage of know-it-alls commenting on Snooth) keep many people away from this wonderful hobby. DivyaGugnani should be praised for her accessible and accurate overview.

    Those of us lucky enough to make a living in this business should be grateful for those with a budding interest in wine without a wealth of knowledge on the subject. If everyone was an expert we would be out of work!!

    There are plenty of other places to find articles of more depth. The internet is an amazing recourse.

    Aug 13, 2010 at 3:10 PM


  • Snooth User: barese
    264816 2

    Jack Hong Kong keep all your negative comments to yourself.

    Aug 18, 2010 at 5:20 PM


  • Snooth User: barese
    264816 2

    Right on Dillon Sparks..

    Aug 18, 2010 at 5:22 PM


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