Tuscany is very rich in tradition, and they use that advantage while making use of the rising international wine varieties that have come to settle in the region. 1. Location Tuscany (Toscana in Italian) is the region situated in central Italy. Its neighbors are Emilia-Romagna to the north, Marche and Umbria to the east, Lazio to the south, and Liguria to the northwest. In addition, the entire western side is on the Tyrrhenian Sea, a part of the Mediterranean Sea. The region covers an area of approximately 22,993 square kilometers with the population of approximately 3. 8 million inhabitants.
According to the administrative division, Tuscany is divided into 10 provinces. While Grosetto is the largest province in terms of area (4,504 square kilometers), Florence is the largest one in terms of population (983,073 people). Here comes the provinces listed by the highest population density: Prato (674. 8 inhabitants/km2), Pistoia, Florence, Livorno, Lucca, Massa and Carrara, Pisa, Areezzo, Siena, and Grosseto. 2. Terroir 3. 1. Topography The gorgeous Tuscany encompasses a mixed topography, comprising of coastal plains, rolling hills, and modest mountains. However, about 70% of the terrain is hilly.
In addition, hill is the main potential place to plant vineyards. In fact, the majority of Tuscan vineyards are on the rolling hills at altitudes from 150 to 500 meters. In this case, the hills serve as a tempering affect on summertime heat as well as increase the diurnal temperature variation. This helps grapes maintain their balance of sugar and acidity as well as their aromatic qualities. 3. 2. Climate To be precise, Tuscan climate varies north to south and coast to mainland. Nevertheless, generally, Tuscany experiences Mediterranean climate. It was the type with which viniculture first flourished.
In terms of temperature, there are two main seasons: warm summer and mild winter. The average temperature is about 250C during the warmest month and 100C in the coolest one. The slight seasonal change creates long grapevine growing seasons. Meanwhile, the not-too-hot summer prevent grapes from dry out and become overripe. About precipitation, its sunny and dry in the summer while rainy and wet in the winter. In fact, the rainfall in the summertime accounts for only 10% of that in the whole year. This protects the grapes against bloating with water during the growing season in summer. The swell may lead to thin and diluted wine later.
Besides, the grapes do not lose their balance between sugar and acid as well as winemakers do not have to face heavy precipitation during harvest in September. 3. 3. Soil Soil is the mandatory factor in viniculture. Although it is true that vine stalks can grow almost everywhere, winemakers need to consider the soil options seriously in order to produce quality wines that capture the essence of surrounding environment. There are two primary features related to Tuscan soil. First of all, a wide range of soil (clay, limestone, sandstone, schist, volcanic soil, etc. ) offers a great diversity of grape types and wines.
Secondly, the Tuscan soil is poor in local producers opinion. Surprisingly, Tuscany is still one of the most dynamic wine regions in Italy and the world due to the aim at quality rather than quantity. 3. Grape varieties There is a wide range of grapes with over 40 varieties in Tuscany, Italy. Actually, the number of red grapes and white grapes are almost the same despite the fact that red wine accounts for 80% of the produced wine. Among the grapes, Sangiovese is the noblest red grape while Trebbiano is the most common white grape.
Besides, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Canaiolo, Syrah, etc. are also used abundantly to make red wines and Vernaccia, Vermentino, Pinot Grigio, Malvasia, etc. are planted widely to produce white wines. Here comes the brief description of 4 most popular Tuscan grapes: Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Trebbiano and Vernaccia. 4. 4. Sangiovese Sangiovese is the most prominent grape in Tuscany as well as Italy. The name means blood of Jove. As its meaning, Sangiovese is a red, fickle and royal grape. It performs best in Tuscany. Indeed, it thrives on well-drained soil with high concentration of limestone, especially on south-facing hillsides.
Besides, as it buds early and ripens slowly, it requires a long growing season, which the Mediterranean climate suits. Moreover, it receives sufficient warmth to ripen fully, but not too much warmth so that its flavors could be diluted. Sangiovese is a primary component in signature Tuscan wines. In fact, it is the sole grape variety permitted for Brunello di Montalcino. Besides, it is blended with Canaiolo and Malvasia Bianco to make Chianti, the most famous Tuscan wine. In addition, it is also mixed with Canaiolo and Mammolo to create Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, one of the oldest Italian wines.
Moreover, it is an ingredient of many Super Tuscans (expensive red wines that exceeds the limits of the Italian wine classification system) such as Cepparello, Grattamacco, Percarlo, and Tignanello. Due to its extremely thin skin and slow ripeness, Sangiovese produces rich, alcoholic and long-standing wine. Nevertheless, with high yield, it creates wine with light color, zippy acidity and fruity flavor. About food matching, it is best enjoyed with Italian cuisine like tomato-based pasta, grilled steak and roast meat. 4. 5. Cabernet Sauvignon Cabernet Sauvignon is grown all over Italy, including Tuscany.
It has been present in Tuscan viniculture since 1970s. Actually, Cabernet Sauvignon rises to fame internationally as a king of red grapes thanks to its prominence in Bordeaux wines. However, this does not mean that does not play any roles in Tuscan ones. In fact, it serves as a successful blending agent in many Super Tuscans such as Ornellaia (90%), Sammarco (80%), Solaia (80%), and Sassicaia (75%). Cabernet Sauvignon has a distinctive blue thick skin, which makes wine with bold color and significant tannin. In addition, the wine is also highly aromatic with distinctive flavors of chocolate, mint and tobacco.
Due to the dense body, it pairs well with creamy cheese, pizza, smoked meat and barbecue. 4. 6. Trebbiano Trebbiano is the most widely planted white grape in Tuscany. Moreover, it is responsible for a third of Italian white wine production and is the second most grown white grape worldwide. It is a highly productive white grape, indeed. Nonetheless, it is considered an undistinguished grape. This is due to the fact that it makes the wine having neutral aroma, crisp taste and short aftertaste. The secret lies in the skills to make the wine desirable.
It is usually blended with Mavalsia and several other grapes to concentrate the sugars and intensify the flavors. It serves as a blending component so wonderfully that the Trebbiano-based wine is highly regarded in Tuscany. In fact, you cannot understand, enjoy and appreciate a Tuscan meal to its fulfillment unless you have experienced the Trebbiano-based wine. The wine matches well with the traditional almond biscotti as well as chicken, turkey, pork and delicate fish such as sole and catfish. 4. 7. Vernaccia In this case, Vernaccia means the white grape that is associated with the Tuscan wine Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
Despite a number of other Vernaccias, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano grape stands out as a component to make the top, unique, and inspirational white wine in Tuscany as well as Italy. Indeed, the wine was admired by generations, especially Pope Marin IV (1281-1285), fueled the imagination of medieval poets like Dante, father of Italian language, and was praised in Bacco in Toscana, one of the best literary works of the 17th century, by Francesco Redi. The popularity of Vernaccia di San Gimignano is due to its successful reflection of terroir and characterized match with seafood.
Indeed, the wine is distinguished for light gold yellow color, herbal fresh persistent aroma, dry, crisp and acid taste, citrus, pear, and sometimes mineral flavor, powerful and full-bodied nature, and bitter-almond finish. With these features, it is excellent with seafood, herbal salad and parmesan cheese. 4. Producer 5. 8. Barone Ricasoli Barone Ricasoli is the most ancient and important producer in Chianti, Tuscany, Italy. The historic Brolio Castle with a remarkable 250-hectare vineyard has been the home to the Ricasoli family since 1141.
The most famous Baron, the Iron Baron Bettino Ricasoli (1809-1880), was not only Italian prime minister and one of the key figures in the unification of Italy, but also was the first to invent the formula for quality Chianti: predominantly Sangiovese with some Canaiolo and perhaps a little Malvasia for the early drinking wines. Today Sangiovese still dominates the estates reds. One of the most famous wines is Chianti DOCG 2010 Barone Ricasoli, Tuscany. It is intense ruby red with elegant aroma, cherry, blackberry and sweet tobacco taste, and spicy finish. It is for daily drinking and pairs well with many different dishes.
Last but not least, a bottle only costs about 10 euros. 5. 9. Lisini Lisini is one of the oldest wine estates at the hilly town Montalcino in Tuscany, Italy. It is 110 km from the capital Florence, 42 km from Siena, and 150 km from Pisa. 20 out of 160 hectares of the total surface are under vine. The vineyards are exclusively devoted to Sangiovese Grosso (Brunello), at an average altitude of 1,150 feet. They are planted to produce five main traditional wines: San Biagio IGT Toscano Rosso, Rosso di Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, and Ugolaia Brunello di Montalcino Riserva.
The picture illustrates a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino 2003. The wine was made completely with Brunello (a clone of Sangiovese). It was aged during 30 months in oak barrels and 18 months in bottle. Therefore, it possesses intense taste. In addition, it has dark red color, ripe cherry aroma, full tannins and great acidity. This is suitable for red meat and aged cheese. Due to the classy features, a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino 2003 costs approximately 40 euros.