“Tuscany has long been Sangiovese country, its hillsides and valleys offering a mix of elevations, exposures and microclimates for Italy’s most widely planted grape variety to thrive. Yet most of the top wines from recent vintages – particularly the back-to-back outstanding years of 2010 and 2011 – are not based on Sangiovese but made primarily from international varieties such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. These bottlings, known as super Tuscans, are grown both in the Tuscan heartland of Chianti Classico and Montalcino and the coastal areas of Bolgheri and Maremma, where it is too warm and low-lying to ensure top-quality Sangiovese.
Chianti Classico, Chianti and sub-zones
“Chianti Classico is a series of hills spread over nine communes that offer steep slopes, breathtaking views and high elevations for Sangiovese to thrive. The northern part around Greve has a high proportion of clay, but also sand and the typical stone soils galestro and albarese. The landscape changes as you move south of Gaiole, where limestone and schist prevail, opening up to rolling hillsides and higher sand content around Castelnuovo Berardenga.
“Other wines of note from the Chianti Classico zone include…the Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva 2010, an excellent value offering floral, strawberry, raspberry and mineral flavors…
White and Dessert
“Tuscany plays such a strong suit with its red wines that it’s easy to overlook the region’s whites.
“Vin Santo is the traditional dessert wine of Tuscany…one of this report’s top wines, Castello di Volpaia’s Vin Santo del Chianti Classico 2007 delivers apricot, honey, molasses and walnut flavors on an agile frame…”