Super Tuscan… Most people who have drunk wine long enough know the term… For those who don’t, the term was coined back in the late 70’s, early 80’s and it describes a particular type of wine from Italy’s Tuscany region – the home of one of the world’s most well – known wines – Chianti. So where does this term come from? Well, as I have related to so many of my classes, throughout the 60’s and early 70’s the wines of Chianti were universally considered some of the most awful wine on the planet. Rampant over planting and production, combined with less-than-stellar wine making combined to produce wine that was thin, bitter and just dreadful. Even pizza was embarrassed to have to share the limelight with this inferior plonk.

With time, younger wine makers, and a few traditionalists started a movement to make Chianti a wine worthy of its name. However, during this renaissance of wine, certain producers felt that the problem was more deeply-rooted – fundamentally the laws governing production in Chianti needed to be “updated” to harness the true potential of wine making in the region. Well, updating wine laws in Italy is tantamount to changing the laws of Roman Catholicism – I think it involves flying pigs, or a certain subterranean region freezing over… Get the picture? So, a few enterprising folks decided to make some wine that was truly the best wine they could make, literally “Super Tuscan” wine. Of course, the wine did not conform to wine law standards and therefore had to be delimited as plain old Vino da Tavola wine, but to wine connoisseurs around the globe, these were wines worth noticing.

The bottles commanded extraordinary prices, which were shocking for wines that were no more than “table wines,” but the quality and character of the wines spoke volumes about what these wines were really worth. Over time the wine laws would adapt to recognize these wines for what they are – non-traditional Italian wines of the highest quality. Eventually the term Indicazione Geografica Typica Toscana would supplant the term Vino da Tavola, and a new hot region was born…

In Europe vintages are much more important than they are in the US. Where California basks in near perfect growing conditions, Europe almost always has to light candles for Mother Nature to shine a little beneficial sunshine on their oft suffering vineyards. Lately, though Europe has enjoyed a few really terrific vintages – 2005, 2007 and now 2009. I have tasted a lot of wine from all three vintages and they are each distinct. The 2005 vintage is big – wines with lots of fruit and lots of tannin – near endless aging potential… The 2007 vintage produced wines with good structure and balance, but unlike 2005, the 2007 wines tasted a bit more integrated and mature. The 2009 vintage is like 2005 on steroids – bigger, fuller in-your-face wines that seem endless…

Here we have a really fantastic wine – from the 2007 vintage the wine has a smoothness and maturity that is welcoming. The region is Toscana and you can tell that while Sangiovese plays a part in the wine, the dominant grapes are non-indigenous varietals – Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc… A Parker 90+ wine, which I could care less about, but some folks will take as validation – small quantities and somewhat expensive – $29.99 average retail per bottle – high value in my book…

 My tasting note:

Ripe, jammy nose with blackberry, raspberry, lilac and tar hints – stunning. Full-bodied with moderate acidity and firm, dry tannin – good balance. Sour cherry palate with truffle, saddle and red berry notes – impressive. Long finish – smooth with layers of complexity – spice, cocoa and vanilla bean. Drinking well and should improve with 7 to 10 years in the bottle. Good value.

Here’s to breaking the rules and producing the best wine possible!