Tuscany, Bolgheri

Tuscany is the oldest wine region in Italy, with a long history dating back over 2700 years. The region is on the Western coast of Italy, stretching from the coastline of the Tyrrhenian Sea all the way to the Apennine mountains, with the majority of the region being quite hilly.

Contributing to around 6% of Italy's total wine output, Tuscany is the third most planted region, but only the eight biggest producer. Much of this can be attributed to the hilly terroir and poor soils leading to lower yields, but generally higher quality wines. The region produces far more red than white wine, and is responsible for two of the most famous Italian red wines, Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino.

Chianti was first classified in 1716, and the region of Tuscany now has 29 DOC and 7 DOCG classifications. In the 1970s 'Super Tuscan' wines emerged of supreme quality, commanding very high prices. Although they were initially produced outside the DOC or DOCG zones, most of the regions have since been classified, though some producers still opt to use the simpler and less restrictive IGT labelling.

The famous red wine Chianti is based on the the Sangiovese variety, though is most commonly blended with Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon. The blending of multiple grapes is common, even Bordeaux blends can be found. White wines produced include Vermentino, Vernaccia, Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay.
The current set of DOC regulations for Bolgheri red wines only became approved in 1994 making it one of the countries younger DOCs. The Bolgheri region became an internationally known following a Decanter wine tasting event in 1974 where a 6-year-old Sassicaia won over an assortment of Bordeaux wines. Prior to this, Bolgheri had been relatively anonymous producers of ordinary white wines and rosés.

Due to the particular characteristics of the soil and micro climate sunny, dry and moderately windy, the grape varieties of Bordeaux origin tend to thrive, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Among the most known "Super Tuscan" producers are Tenuta San Guido who produce Sassicaia, Tenuta Dell'Ornellaia who produce Ornellaia, and Ca'Marcanda of Gaja, Guado al Tasso of Antinori.
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