Tuscany is today one of the world's biggest wine regions. Wine has almost always been cultivated here, actually it all started already 700 years f. Kr when the Etruscans cultivated wine on the hills of Tuscany. Since then the wine production has steadily evolved and wine from Tuscany has already since hundreds of years been served in the royal courts throughout Europe. Best known is certainly the typical straw bottle of Chianti which is sold worldwide. Today, Tuscany is much more than just the straw bottle.
Innovative usage of the local Sangiovese grape underlies successes like Brunello di Montalcino and Montepulciano. The Chianti wines, which are also produced mostly out of Sangiovese grapes are offered in both Chianti and Chianti Classico. The Chianti Classico is produced in the vineyards between Florence and Sienna, where the 3 towns Greve, Radda and Castellina create a triangle. Most of the wines here belong to the consortium Classico and bear the "Gallo Nero" (black rooster) that ensures that the bottle is a true Chianti Classico. There are two types of Chianti Classico, one "standard" and one "Riserva."
The Riserva is made from the best grapes and aged for at least 27 months before the sale. Other wines which are also produced out of Sangiovese are Tignanello and Sassicaia, the demand and price are equivalent to those of Brunello di Montepulciano. Even Montepulciano, Montalcino, Bolgheri, Maremma Carignano are produced from Sangiovese grapes. After almost solely having grown Sangiovese grapes, new varieties such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon were introduced in Tuscany in the 70's.
These grape varieties are used to produce the so-called "Super Tuscans". Sassicaia finding success around the world is produced out of just Cabernet Sauvignon and has now its own DOC called Bolgheri. Today Sangiovese is blended with Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah and Pinot Noir, which gives amazing results. The "Super Tuscan" wines are today among the most exclusive and most coveted Italian wines and the price is unfortunately joining the demand upward.
Also white wines are produced in Tuscany but they are often sidelined for the Reds. Perhaps it is because of the use of Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes, that are often mistakenly considered to be of mediocre quality. The grape variety Vernaccia di San Gimignano has its own DOCG and is considered to be one of the best white wines of the region. Vermentino has recently been planted on the hills and the result is very promising. Also, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Pinot Bianco and Grigio have been planted successfully in the cooler regions of Tuscany. Finally Vino Santo should be mentioned, which is manufactured by many wineries in the region. The grapes used for the wine are partially dried grapes of Malvasia and Trebbiano and the final wine has then been stored in oak barrels.Vino Santo is an excellent wine for aperitivo or fits well with desserts.