The Ultimate “Super Tuscan” Wine Guide

Wine is ancient. It dates back thousands, potentially tens of thousands of years. Humans have imbibed the beautiful beverage for longer than the annals of history stretch back.

So, it’s pretty incredible that we’re still coming up with new styles of wine in the modern era.

Set your mind back to Italy in the 1970s. The country’s wine industry was in disarray due to archaic and strict regulations. As sales floundered, regional winemakers needed to find a way to keep their vineyards afloat.

Enter Super Tuscan, an umbrella of Italian blended wines with a powerful spice profile and rebellious history.

Read on to learn all about this relative newcomer to the world of wine and discover why you should seek out a Super Tuscan for your wine cellar.

Tuscany Wine Valley

What Is A Super Tuscan Wine?

A “Super Tuscan” wine is a new style of wine originating from Tuscany, Italy. In the 1970s, Italian winemakers grew frustrated with their nation’s glacial pace in reforming domestic wine laws. 

While the country’s winemaking industry floundered, mouthwatering grapes remained out of bounds for producers due to stringent regulations set forth by the Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) system.

Annoyed by decreasing revenues and eager to export their top vintages, winemakers took matters into their own hands. They started blending unsanctioned varietals like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah with sanctioned varietals to create new, high-quality forms of vino.

Enter The First Super Tuscan

Perhaps the first Super Tuscan wine to hit the market was Sassicaia, a full-bodied red wine blend originating from the village of Bolgheri. 

Because this grape incorporated Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc in its blend, it initially only earned the less prestigious classification of Vino da Tavola. The same occurred to Tignanello, a red Sangiovese that was overlooked due to its failure to incorporate any white grapes into the bottle.

Certain wine writers began to notice that these mouthwatering vinos had been overlooked simply due to their lower classification. Gradually, they earned the unofficial label of Super Tuscan and the Italian wine scene has never been the same since.

After years of backseat superstardom, the Bolgheri DOC finally reformed its regulations in 1994 to allow some international varietals common in Super Tuscan wines. 

Indeed, many Super Tuscan wines today are labeled with Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT). These IGT wines rank slightly lower than DOC wines though slightly higher than Vino da Tavola wines. 

They’re permitted to use grapes considered off-limits in stricter appellations, allowing winemakers the potential to innovate and market their creation as one of Italy’s premier exports in the wine world.

What Grapes Are In A Super Tuscan?

While no two Super Tuscans taste quite alike, they can be distinguished due to the prominent influence of Bordeaux winemaking. 

Often rich and full-bodied, Super Tuscan wines generally incorporate Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon into their Sangiovese blends along with natural oak spice. 

Super Tuscan red wines are often aged in compact, oak barrels called barriques to imbue even more powerful notes of vanilla, cedar, and spice. This gives them a perfect balance between the French and Italian styles.

Of course, there are also Super Tuscan white wines. These often impart flavors more reminiscent of tropical fruit on the palate compared to the winter fruit flavors signature of an Italian white like a Cantina Di Solopaca.

What Makes A Wine A Super Tuscan?

Unlike Super Tuscan, wines like Chianti hold DOC status, meaning they abide by strict regulations set forth by the appellation designation system in Italy. 

For example, if a wine is labeled as a Chianti DOC, it contains at least 80% Sangiovese grapes cultivated in an approved Chianti appellation.

While DOC is still often considered the top designation to earn in Italy, the best Super Tuscans often reach eye-popping critic scores and certainly command a pretty penny.

Fortunately, we’ve got Super Tuscans that strike the perfect balance between affordable and irresistible.

How To Identify A Super Tuscan

Some of the most popular Super Tuscan wine producers are:

  • Tua Rita
  • Fontodi
  • Tenuta dell’Ornellaia
  • Marchesi Antinori
  • Tenuta San Guido

Today, Super Tuscans are often labeled with Toscana IGT. Some top vintages that have earned the Toscana IGT label are our Ceppaiano Bianco Toscana or Due Mari Maremma.

The Bianco presents a fragrant blend of white Italian grapes Traminer, Trebbiano, and Viognier. Each sip bursts forward with vibrant flavors of lychee and exotic fruits. 

By contrast, the Maremma is comprised of a classic Super Tuscan blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sangiovese. Without harsh acidity or heavy tannins, the wine is buttery with earthy undertones of oak, cedar, tobacco, and even some red fruit.

Party Drinking Wine

Become A Super Tuscan With Wine Insiders

Limitations breed innovation. If there were ever a story that proved the saying true, it would be the case of Super Tuscan wines in 1970s Italy.

As local winemakers had to think outside the box to save their vineyards, they inadvertently created a massive umbrella of delicious Italian wines that lives on to this day.

By incorporating international varietals and concentrated oak aging, Super Tuscan wines provide another layer to the rich tapestry of Italian winemaking.

To taste what makes Super Tuscan so super, browse our intercontinental catalog of award-winning wines. Look through our Super Tuscan selection, our regionally certified mouthwatering, Italian wines, and every other varietal you can imagine.

If you need an extra boost, use our discount code WINE101 for 30% off your order at checkout!

While you’re waiting for your order to arrive, browse our wine blog to learn even more about classic Italian wine regions as well as other Italian varietals like Vermentino, an often overlooked Sardinian varietal.