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Chianti is the best known appellation of Tuscany. However, there are two other regions of Tuscany that have also achieved great fame.
Tuscany‘s mild Mediterranean climate, hillside vineyards and poor soils distinguish the character of its wines. An astounding 92 percent of Tuscany‘s terrain is either hills or mountain, with the Appennini Mountains separating Tuscany from Emilia-Romagna to the north, while smaller ranges line Tuscany western and southern reaches.
Use the key to explore our Tuscan wine regions and estates.
Chianti is the broadest of all Chianti designations. Wine labeled as Chianti are made from a blend of granpes from several regions in the Chianti appellation. Chianti wines must be made from at least 70% Sangiovese grapes.
Chianti Superiore is a designation within the Chianti DOCG. It refers to wines that are made from grapes grown within the Chianti region, but produced to the higher quality standards of Chianti Classico. Thi concentration of flavor is thus greater, and the alchohol content is higher.
Chianti Classico reprisetns Tuscany‘s literal, historical and figurative heart. Cosimo III de‘Medici officially defined its precise boundaries in 1716, and the government reaffirmed those boundaries in 1932. Wines from this exalted region must be made from at least 80 percent Sangiovese grapes. Chianti Classicos have more body and are aged longer than either Chiantis or CHianti Superiores, which adds finesse to both the aromas and the flavors.
Chianti Classico Riserva (Reserve) is made from the best gropes in the Chianti Classico region and produced to the most stringent production codes. Chianti Classico Riserva wines are aged longer than any other class of Chianti - a minimum of two years on oak and three months in bottle. Not surprisingly, they are richer, more complex, and higher in tannins. Because of the alchohol level required of Chianti Classico Riservas, they are often more age-worthy than Chianti Classico non-riservas.
In 2014, the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico announced a landmark decision to create a new top tier designation within the Chianti Classico quality hierarchy. This new designation, Gran Selezione, represents just 10 percent of all Chianti Classico production. To qualify as Gran Selezione, a wine must meet a number of stringent criteria, including 100% winery-owned vineyard sourcing, minimum aging of 30 months in oak barrels, 6 months longer than a Riserva, and other strict viticultural and winemaking criteria aimed at ensuring balance.
Chianti is the best known appellation of Tuscany. However, there are two other regions of Tuscany that have also achieved great fame—fame that stretches back for centuries.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
This red wine is made from vineyards near the town of Montepulciano, and is one of the oldest wines if Italy. It is composed primarily of the Songiovese grape, locally known as Prugnolo gentile.
Brunello di Montalcino
This red wine comes from the vineyards surrounding the town of Montalcino south of Siena. Montalcino is one of Tuscany‘s warmest and driest climates. Brunello is the local name for the Sangiovese grape. Some of Italy‘s most famous and most expensive wines are Brunellos.
Italian wines classified as DOC or DOCG bear a thin paper warranty strip, which can vary in design or color depending on the appellation. This official warranty strip guarantees that the wine in the bottle has met the stringent DOCG standards governed by Italian wine law.
Note of Interest: When Chianti first became recognized as a DOCG wine in 1984, Ruffino Chianti DOCG was awarded the first warranty strip #AAA00000001.
The term Super Tuscan applies to a group of Tuscan wines which are produced using grape varieties not unique or indigenous to Tuscany. Most often these wines are a blend of Tuscan varietals like Sangiovese with French grape types such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah or Cabernet Franc. Often, Super Tuscans use non-traditional winemaking techniques including aging the wine in small oak barrels. Most Super Tuscans are red, but there are some white Super Tuscans as well.
Because these wines do not conform to Italy‘s traditional and rigid wine laws, they are not an officially recognized classification