4 wine varieties from Tuscany

Gianluca Barsavi
Gianluca Barsavi
Published March 3rd, 2022

The Tuscan Wine Region is considered one of the most important in all of Italy and is well-known for producing a wide range of wines. It's difficult to keep track of all the wine producers, grapes, and types. In this guide, I'll try to make it simpler for you to navigate the lush and sunny hills of this region in search of the finest wines from Tuscany.

The best wines varieties you can expect to find in Tuscany are:

  • Chianti Classico DOCG

  • Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

  • Super Tuscan

  • Vin Santo

Quick note: DOCG stands for "Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita" or "controlled and guaranteed designation of origin". This means that wines labeled as DOCG are produced in a specific region of Italy and that's guaranteed by a government–licensed judgment panel that analyses and tastes the wine.

Chianti Classico DOCG

Chianti Classico is a type of wine produced in the Chianti region, the very heart of Tuscany where winemaking started back in the 13th century. More wine is produced in the Chianti region than any other area in Italy, and DOCG-designated wines must contain at least 80% Sangiovese.

The Sangiovese grape results in a rich, full-bodied wine. The harvest of the Sangiovese variety is most often between September and October. Sangiovese vines are grown in soil that is primarily composed of limestone, clay, and sandstone. Chianti Classico spends more time aging in oak than other varieties, resulting in a more complex wine.

The black rooster is the official symbol for this DOCG wine, and it's easy to spot a bottle of Chianti Classico thanks to the red circle with the black rooster inside.

Our pick: Fèlsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia

This Chianti Classico from Fèlsina winemaker is made in the Rancia vineyard that takes its name from the historic Rancia farmhouse, once a Benedictine monastery.

It's 100% Sangiovese that rest in new French oak barrels for 18-20 months. After that, it's bottled, and ages in glass a minimum of 6-8 months. The wine is compelling for its flavor-rich mid-palate and supporting acidity.

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Brunello di Montalcino DOCG

Brunello is a type of wine produced in the hills surrounding the medieval town of Montalcino. It was initially thought to be produced from a distinct grape variety called Brunello, but the grape utilized in the wine's making was later found to be Sangiovese. 100% Sangiovese in fact.

These wines are barrel-aged for at least four years and one year in transit before they can be sold. This yields a full-bodied, complex wine with a deep ruby color and intense flavor and tannins.

Tip: Rosso di Montalcino is a less aged, fruitier version of Brunello. It's frequently a touch less expensive.

Our pick: Brunello di Montalcino Col di Lamo

The name of the wine comes from the hill Lamo where the vineyard is. On the bottle's label, the profile of a woman's face is used to hint at the mother-daughter team in charge of the property.

The wine is pleasant, with a sophisticated prune and blackberry flavor accompanied by a strong wood fragrance. The taste delivers a full and balanced wine.

Super Tuscan

Tuscany's long history of wine production was revolutionized in the 1960s when a few daring winemakers experimented with foreign grape varietals. They discovered that Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot grapes thrive on the Tuscany soil.

Super Tuscan wines are a cross between the best native grapes and the best non-native grapes. For example, a wine that's 50% Sangiovese and 50% Merlot is a Super Tuscan. Super Tuscans are best known for their high alcohol content and rich, velvety texture.

Our pick: Picconero – Tolaini

Picconero is made by the Tolaini winery that's best known for its exceptional Brunello di Montalcino. Because of its mix of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, Picconero is unquestionably one of the finest super tuscans. Rich, concentrated and muscular, yet wonderfully balanced with deep tiers of cherry, plums and wild berries, and nuances of spice and currants.

Vin Santo

Another type of wine produced in Tuscany is Vin Santo (Holy Wine). Vin Santo is a well-known Italian dessert wine. This wine's production begins when the winemaker selects specific grapes best suited for drying on racks for about four months. The best grapes are selected and then dried for up to eight months.

Vin Santo owes its golden color and particular flavor to this process. The best Vin Santos are aged for more than five years in barrels and bottles, although three-year old wines can be delightful. It's best served with desserts like biscotti or fruit cakes and cheeses such as pecorino and Parmesan.

Our pick: Vin Santo – Castello di Querceto

A great Vin Santo for its price is the Castello di Querceto. Trebbiano grapes are used to make this wine. During December or January, the grape clusters are plucked and laid out to dry before being pressed. The wine has a moderate sweetness and almond undertones.