The Super Tuscan movement began quite innocently when Marchese Mario Incisa della Roccheta and his wife moved to coastal Tuscany in the 1940s and planted Cabernet Sauvignon vines that he had brought over from Bordeaux. He only made wines for personal family consumption until his relative Piero Antinori convinced him to sell 250 cases of his wine commercially. It was an instant international hit. Around the same time the Antinori family decided to go against Chianti DOC regulations and eliminated white grapes from their Chianti blend. The DOC promptly punished the nonconformists and forced them to label their wines as vino da tavola, or table wine, so the rule breakers came up with the IGT indicazione geografica tipica that graces wine labels today.
According to Axel Heinz winemaker and estate director for Tenuta dell’ Ornellaia, “Super Tuscans are wines that are produced outside of the existing appellation regulations in terms of choice of grape varieties and/or vinification and ageing methods.” Most Super Tuscans are blends of a few different grapes, but many are crafted today as single-variety wines by international winemakers. For example, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Toscana Masseto is 100 percent Merlot and overseen by German native Axel Heinz and Colore is 100 percent Sangiovese made by Italian winemaker Bibi Graetz born to an Israeli father and a Norwegian mother.
Super Tuscans have high tannins and intense power, so they pair perfectly with bold foods that complement their robustness. Thick steaks on the grill are always a great choice as are strong cheeses and tomato sauce-based pastas. Here are 11 outstanding Super Tuscans to buy right now.
The second wine from Ornellaia, Le Serre Nuove is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It aged in oak barrels (25 percent new and 75 percent second use) for 12 months. It was then blended and returned to the oak barrels for an additional three months. After bottling it rested for six months before release. It has aromas of ripe red plums and red raspberries. Very round and full bodied in the mouth this wine has flavors of red fruits and a touch of black licorice in the persistent finish.
Bibi Graetz founded his eponymous winery in 2000 in the town of Fiesole overlooking the city of Florence. His wines immediately achieved cult status. His Colore 2020 is inky purple in the glass with aromas of red and black berries and a whiff of eucalyptus. In the mouth there are ripe, rich flavors of red berries, red plums and red and black cassis. It is elegantly structured with silky soft tannins and great persistency.
Having visited the winery a few times we’ve always felt that this wine should cost more. It’s the perfect wine to share with budding oenophiles and pass around at your next party. It has often been referred to as Sassicaia’s little brother and is a delightful blend of 60 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 40 percent Merlot. It has ripe rich red and black fruit aromas and flavors with voluptuous mouthfeel.
Ornellaia 2019 Bolgheri Superiore Toscana
The flagship wine of Ornellaia, this intoxicating red wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It is one of the most powerful wines coming from the house with ripe fruit flavors, refined tannins and vibrant acidity on the palate and in the finish. If you have the patience, this wine will hold for decades.
Tenuta San Guido 2019 Sassicaia Toscana
Tenuta San Guido was one of the early proponents of the Super Tuscan movement and the name Sassicaia means “the place of many stones” referring to the gravely soils found in the vineyards. This stunning wine is ruby garnet colored in the glass with enticing aromas of sweet, ripe red fruits. In the mouth it has flavors of red and black fruits with sweet, silky tannins. The persistence is long with a touch of bright acidity in the post palate. Drink now or hold for 20 years.
Grapes for this delightful wine are grown on a 790-acre estate surrounded by undulating hills known locally as the Bolgheri Amphitheatre. The soils are comprised of clay, sand and loam with rocky deposits called scheletro. It is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and has aromas and flavors of cassis, blackberry, and sweet baking spices. It is full bodied in the mouth with notes of saddle leather and black licorice in the finish.
A blend of 50 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 40 percent Merlot and 10 percent Cabernet Franc, this lovely wine has aromas of red and black plums, black raspberry and cassis. It is full bodied in the mouth with flavors of ripe fruits followed by notes of milk chocolate and vanilla. The tannins are soft and velvety and the finish goes on for days.
This rich and powerful wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. It has aromas of black fruits, tobacco leaf and freshly ground black pepper. In the mouth you can find flavors of blackberry and black olive with subtle notes of pine and mint in the persistent finish. Drink now through the next ten years.
Deep garnet in the glass, this wine offers intensity on the first whiff. It has aromas of red plum, red raspberry and red cassis, with strong notes of cypress and dried Mediterranean herbs. In the mouth it is generous with flavors of ripe fruits and silky tannins. The finish is long and luscious.
A blend of Syrah and Sangiovese, this wine is unique in that it does not use any of the Bordeaux grapes typically found in the region. Upon entry into the mouth it is generous and full bodied with flavors of black raspberry, cassis and just a touch of powdered cocoa. The tannins are pleasantly grippy but will soften as time goes on. Drink now or over the next 10 years.
This wine is a blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. It is brilliant garnet colored in the glass with a delicate violet rim. It has aromas of red plum and red cassis with ripe fruit flavors in the palate. In the mouth it is full bodied with silky tannins and a persistent finish.