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WHAT IS A SUPER TUSCAN?
Super Tuscan is an unofficial category of Tuscan wines that does not adhere to the traditional Italian wine classification system. It is usually a luxury wine of small production, combining the best of Italian traditions such as Sangiovese (san-jo-vay-zay) grapes and newly imported ones, including using Cabernet Sauvignon grapes and French oak barrels. The term "Super Tuscan" is never used on a wine label because it does not have an official designation.
Super Tuscan wines 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, Cabernet Franc, and other lesser known Italian grapes.
Super Tuscans are wines with an international flair, flamboyant, dense and powerful, usually tannic wines with a flavor of new oak. Many are good candidates for aging.
Starting decades ago, innovative winemakers rejected old-fashioned Italian wine laws that then stipulated that Chiantis must contain 70% Sangiovese grapes and at least 10% white wine grapes. In the 70s, Chiantis gained a reputation for being inferior quality. The first non-Chianti wine was made in 1971 by Piero Antinori, called Tignanello. It had no white grapes, and was almost entirely Sangiovese (later, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc were added). Other top producers, such as Sassicaia and Ornellaia followed suit and created their own proprietary blends. Since they did not comply with the DOC laws (Italy's wine laws) the government considered them mere "vini da tavola" (table wines). On the other hand, the press and wine critics loved them and nicknamed them "Super Tuscans".
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