Wine Guide: Tuscany

Tuscany – The heart of Italian wine

Tuscany (Italian: Toscana) is an Italian region in Central Italy. Capital city is Florence. Throughout history Tuscany was an important center of commerce and culture – especially in the Renaissance. Lots of vineyards form the Tuscan landscape which really is magnificent. It’s well worth traveling to Tuscany. If you go make sure to visit some of the wineries. Most will allow spontaneous visits Some might even show you their cellars and offer you to try their wines. Among Italians there is a heavy debate about where the best Italian wines come from. A few say the Barolo of the Piedmont, some say the Amarone from Veneto and others say Brunello and Vino Nobile from Tuscany. The truth is all three of the these regions make stunning wines.

Let’s explore the great wines of Tuscany. Overall there are 11 DOCG and 38 DOC wines in Tuscany as well as a lot of IGT wines. This guide will only focus on the most important wines as there are simply too many wines in Tuscany.

Map of Tuscany

Important grapes:

Sangiovese is the most important overall grape in Italy and it’s also the most important red grape in Tuscany. Most great Tuscan wines are produced with Sangiovese grapes. Canaiolo (red) is often found in Chianti. Vernaccia di San Gimignano is the most important white grape in Tuscany. Trebbiano and Malvasia are important, too. They are found in Vin Santo.

Important wines

  • Bolgheri Rosso Superiore DOC
    Grapes permitted: up to 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, up to 70% Merlot, up to 70% Sangiovese. Produced in the province of Livorno.
  • Brunello di Montalcino DOCG
    Grapes permitted: 100% Sangiovese. Produced in the province of Siena.
  • Carmignano DOCG
    Grapes permitted: at least 50% Sangiovese, up to 20% Canaiolo, Cabernet Franc & Cabernet Sauvignon together between 10%-20%, Trebbiano & Canaiolo bianco & Malvasia all together up to 10%.
  • Chianti DOCG
    Grapes permitted: 70%-100% Sangiovese, up to 30% other local red grapes. Produced in the provinces Arezzo, Firenze, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena.
  • Chianti Classico DOCG
    Grapes permitted: 80%-100% Sangiovese, up to 20% other local red grapes. Produced in the provinces Firenze and Siena.
  • Elba DOC
    Grapes permitted: Depends. There are 9 Elba DOCs. Elba DOC comes from the island of Elba. Produced in the province of Livorno.

  • Morellino di Scansano DOCG
    Grapes permitted: 85%-100% Sangiovese, up to 15% other local red grapes. Produced in the province of Grosseto.
  • Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG
    Grapes permitted: 90%-100% Vernaccia, up to 10% other local white grapes. Produced in the province of Siena.
  • Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG
    Grapes permitted: at least 70% Sangiovese, up to 30% Canaiolo, up to 10% other local red grapes. Produced in the province of Siena
  • Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC
    Grapes permitted: Malvasia Bianca 35%-65%, Trebbiano 35%-65%. Produced in the provinces Firenze and Siena.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG and Chianti (Classico) DOCG probably Tuscany’s most famous wines. They get exported all around the world.  These two wines helped making Tuscany famous as it is but we should not forget about Vino Nobile DOCG or Morellino di Scansano DOCG. Vin Santo is a Tuscan sweet wine. Basically Vin Santo is a passito which ages for a long time in barrique barrels. The grapes for Vin Santo get dried outside for a long time before being used to produce the wine.

Quick Facts about Tuscan wine

  • Chianti Classico was first defined 1716 and is therefore one of the oldest Italian wines.
  • Brunello di Montalcino DOCG could also be classified as Chianti DOC if the producer wishes to do so.
  • Vin Santo translates to Holy Wine.
  • According to the “Consorzio” of Brunello di Montalcino producers the best vintages include 1997, 2004 and 2006 which are the most recent ones in the list of five star Brunello vintages.
  • In 2007 seven million bottles of Brunello have been exported to Europe and the Americas. (20% USA, 14%, Germany).
  • Tignanello is said to be the first “Super Tuscan”. Super Tuscan rose to fame in the 1970s.

IGT’s from Tuscany

Tuscany is also famous for it’s IGT. Many Tuscan wines are classified IGT Toscana or IGT Toscano. These wines don’t follow the strict guidelines of DOC/DOCG regulations. Often the cuvée of these wines includes non-Italian grapes like Syrah or Merlot which in most DOC/DOCG are not allowed.

Especially around the national park Maremma many vintners started producing IGT wines (often next to Morellino di Scansano DOCG). Tenute Loacker for example produces an IGT Toscano named Gran Falco in the Maremma which includes Syrah. IGT Toscano are not just found in the Maremma, they can be found in most Tuscan places. Levante is another example of a stunning, very much recommended, IGT Toscana wine.

Tuscan wine reviews

I’ve reviewed a lot of wines from Tuscany. Here is a selection of them. For a complete list visit this site.

Some of these wines are also featured in my current top 10 list.

What you should take from this guide

  • Tuscany is one of Italy’s most important wine regions with 12 DOCG and over 30 DOC wines.
  • Chianti was first introduced in 1716 and Chianti is next to the Brunello the most recognized wine of the region.
  • Most important white wine is the Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Most important sweet wine is the Vin Santo which is a Tuscan-style passito.

I have written an extra article about the history of Super Tuscans. For more information on Italian wines follow this link: Useful information about Italian wines


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