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What is a Super Tuscan?

Italy

It’ll come up every so often, what is a Super Tuscan?

A Super Tuscan at it’s core, is simply a blend between an Italian varietal and an international one.  As an example, a Super Tuscan can be a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon.  In Italy there is a long history of Super Tuscan blends, dating to the early 1970’s.

The entire idea of a Super Tuscan came about because Italian winemakers were struggling to gain acceptance for their wines, in part of because they hadn’t yet adopted large scale, modern winemaking techniques, but also because Americans and other wine consumers across the world weren’t accustomed to their local varieties. Local winemakers also were struggling with how to deal with some archaic local rules and regulations which instructed them to blend Sangiovese with a small amount of white wine, to make Chianti. They wanted to do something different, something better, thus was born the concept of a Super Tuscan.

Much like the Portugese and Spanish to this day, Italians have long eschewed planting only international varietals like Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah.  Instead, they’ve focused on grapes that have grown in Italy for millennia, like Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Barbera and Aglianico.

The solution? Give consumers something that seems familiar, yet allows vintners and growers to keep their local grapes.

So what’s a Super Tuscan? It’s a blend of an Italian wine varietal and an international name that sounds more familiar.

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