Tuscany is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Itlay – and the reason is not very hard to see once one arrives in the region of rolling hills where the soil provides such fertile ground that olive groves produce some of the best olive oil in the world. In fact, the foods from Tuscany such as Pecorino cheese, made from sheep’s milk and the Mortadella salami, along with ham have put the region on the world foodie map. Add to this the magnificent Black and White truffles from the region and you have the ingredients of a fabulous culinary experience when visiting Tuscany. The same climatic and soil conditions that contribute to the production of these products have another effect – and that is to make Tuscany into one of the premier wine producing regions in the world.
The Tuscany wine region has a long and storied history with grapes first being planted here by the Etruscans around 3,000 years ago. Today wine production in Tuscany relies heavily on the Sangiovese grape – and the quality of these grapes is higher than it has ever been before. The result is that the red wines produced in Tuscany have won worldwide acclaim. Although there are magnificent white wines produced in Tuscany courtesy of the plantings of Vernaccia grapes, red wine still accounts for around 80% of production.
The beauty of the Sangiovese grape is in its incredible versatility. Depending on the skills and approaches of the winemakers it can result in wines of wildly different character. Tastes can range from smoky tart cherry and strawberry jam character to those that boast a more ‘vegetal’ taste – with notes of roasted peppers and sun-ripened tomatoes. The wines are typically high in tannins and acid.
If there is one type of wine that epitomizes the qualities of those produced in the Tuscany wine region it must be Chianti. The beauty of this type of wine is that it pairs extremely well with a number of different foods. Typical Chianti will provide tastes that include bright raspberry highlights and a distinct earthy sage tone. The ability to enjoy Chianti throughout a meal is courtesy of that high acidity which cleanses the palate. Some of the best Chianti is known as the ‘Classico Riserva’ variety. This Chianti typically spends more time in Oak barrels than other types and the result is a deep, rich color with pronounced tastes of Blackberry, Violets, cocoa and baking spice. These tastes become even more intense as the Chianti ages in the bottle.
Another wonderful product from the Tuscany wine region is the Brunello di Montalcino. This is widely regarded as the best wines produced in Itlay. It is a tremendously complex wine with a leathery character and pronounced earthy tones. It is a wine that reaches its peak after extensive aging in the bottle. It can be significantly more expensive than Chianti – but when aged correctly it is well worth the investment.
There are also winemakers in the region who are producing what are known as the ‘Super Tuscans’. These red wines are typically aged in Oak for extensive periods of time and other grape varietals are used to produce blends which are incredibly rich and will also benefit from bottle aging.
A visit to Tuscany would not be complete without an exploration of the region’s wines – and its other produce. For those with the patience to explore Tuscany the rewards in flavor will be vast. It should be on every wine lovers bucket list.