Super Tuscan wines are no longer available only with a heavy price tag, as proven by three excellent examples for less than €30.
I don’t know about you, but I am someone who has strong reservations to splash out hundreds of euros on a single bottle of wine.
I totally get it; you can’t make exceptional wines for just say 10 euros a bottle. Indeed, I am happy to pay a bit more for a great wine every now and then. But when a bottle starts to approach € 100 or even more, I am always starting to wonder; is it really worth the money?
Though the most expensive bottles of wine ever sold mostly come from France, and their prices are mind boggling, Italy’s Super Tuscan can easily set you back well over €100; and could reach prices that approach (and sometime exceed) the € 500 threshold.
Needless to say, this might well exceed what you are prepared to spend on a bottle of wine.
If that is the case, I have good news for you!
Believe it or not, there are Super Tuscan wines out there that you can buy at affordable prices; and they still hold true to the promise of excellence.
Background: What is a Super Tuscan Wine?
Super Tuscans are the answer to the restrictive rules making Chianti Classico, and their worldwide success is proof Tuscan winemakers made the right call when they started to break away from Chianti Classico DOC and DOCG appellation rules.
In fact, Super Tuscans have reached incredible stardom, and this invariably put them on the list of some of the most expensive wines globally.
Before discussing prices, let’s get another quite interesting question out of the way.
What exactly is a Super Tuscan?
The term was coined by wine writer Burt Anderson in the 1980s to describe red wines from Tuscany which did not apply to the rules of the Chianti Classico DOC/DOCG.
And despite the huge popularity of Super Tuscans, still no official definition exists, and the style of Super Tuscans can vary widely. To understand which wines belong to the Super Tuscan category, you probably need to understand which ones will not.
At the time Super Tuscans were born, they were not allowed to be labelled Chianti Classico wines, even though several of them were made from vineyards located in the Chianti Classico area. Because these wines did not live up to the requirements of Chianti Classico.
To be labelled as Chianti Classico, the wine would have to contain at least 70% Sangiovese grapes originating within one of the approved Chianti areas. However, it also required a minimum of 10% of white Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes to be added. A blend that was loosely going back to the early Chianti Classico wines created by Baron Bettino Ricasoli in the 1870s.
Many local winemakers felt these rules far too restrictive and did not allow them to make the best wines possible, mainly because the white varieties required to be allowed labelling the wine as Chianti Classico were seen as restrictive to quality.
Their resolution? Creating the best wines they could make, outside the appellation rules, and thus labelling them ‘Vino da Tavola’, table wines.
Super Tuscans are made either with 100% Sangiovese (though more rarely these days) or as a blend of Sangiovese and other international red varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and others. Some (again only few) might even be made without using Sangiovese grapes at all.
Super Tuscan wines might come from the areas belonging to the Chianti Classico appellations or vineyards located in other Tuscan regions, such as Bolgheri and Maremma.
In 1992, yielding to the huge popularity of Super Tuscan wines, IGT (Indicazzione Geografica Tipica) Toscana was born, based on the origin of the wine. Though IGT wines still ranking below the DOC status this new classification finally allowed winemakers to produce their wines under a recognized quality label offering more flexibility in production of the wines. The only requirement for a wine to be produced under the IGT status is that grapes must come from the stipulated IGT area.
Super Tuscan wines are also notoriously believed to be expensive.
However, this notion is based on a select number of Super Tuscans, including some of the early names such as Tignanello, Solaia, Flaccianello, and Sassicaia.
The exciting truth is, it’s easy to enjoy an excellent Super Tuscan without having to spend a fortune.
Tasting three Super Tuscan Wines retailing below €30
I recently tasted my way through these three fantastic bottles form the Toscana IGT retailing at below €30, and any one of these wines is worth called a Super Tuscan.
2015 Poggiassai Rosso Toscana IGT, Tenute Poggio Bonelli
Locking back at a winegrowing legacy that reaches to the Middle Ages, Tenute Poggio Bonelli after going through the hands of several notable Tuscan families, today belongs to Banca Monte Paschi di Siena, Italy’s oldest bank.
The winery is located just a few kilometres outside of Siena, at Castelnuovo Beradenga right in the heart of the Chianti Classico region.
Work in the vineyards to fully sustainable, leading to wines with authentic character and elegant styles.
The 2015 Poggiassai Rosso Toscana IGT is made of 75% Sangiovese and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon.
In the glass, a dark ruby red.
On the nose, aromas of cherries, blackberries, violets, and spices of nutmeg, liquorice, and vanilla.
On the palate, medium-bodied, complex, and multi-layered, with excellent structure. Intense fruits meet with engaging tannins and a pleasing acidity.
Poggiassai Rosso pairs perfectly with red meat like beef, lamb, and veal as well as poultry and cured meats.
A bottle of the 2015 Poggiassai Rosso Toscana retails at around €25 at the time of writing.
2018 Rapace Rosso Toscana IGT, Uccelliera
Located in the province of Pisa between Municipalities of Fauglia and Lorenzana, Uccelliera was founded in the 1960s and today makes red, white and sparkling wines alongside its own distillates and olive oil.
The 2018 Rapace Rosso Toscana IGT is a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and matured 15 months in barrique.
In the glass, a dark ruby red.
On the nose, aromas of dark red cherries, plums, liquorice, spices, and menthol.
On the palate, silky warm texture, long and nuanced mineral finish.
Rapace Rosso pairs well with red and grilled meat, pizza, pasta, risotto and mature cheses.
A bottle of the 2018 Rapace Rosso retails at around €28-30 at time of writing.
2018 Casino Delle Vie Rosso Toscana IGT, Tenuta Il Palagio
Tenuta Il Palagio – owned by Sting and his wife Trudi Styler – is located just south of Florence. Home to the rockstar and his family for over two decades, this beautiful 16th century property is now actually available for luxury events and bespoke holiday experiences.
Winemaking has a long historic at the estate, with the first grapes harvested here already in the 16th century.
In the vineyard, organic farming is embodied and from the 11 hectares under vine, four excellent wines are produced: Casino Delle Vie, Message in a Bottle, Sister Moon and When We Dance.
The Casino Delle Vie Rosso Toscana is a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot, matured for 18 months in barrique.
In the glass, a dark ruby red.
On the nose, aromas of butter, smoke, and herbs followed by notes of cassis, dark cherries and blackberries.
On the palate, full-bodied and dense. Nice acidity with integrated tannins, and a mineral spiciness. Long and lively finish.
Try pairing Casino Delle Vie with white meat, poultry, pizza, pasta, and hearty snacks.
A bottle of the 2018 Casino Delle Vio Rosso Toscans IGT retails at around €23-25 at the time of writing.
Are you familiar with Super Tuscan wines? Do you have a favourite? What about your price limits?