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4 Tuscan Wines to Know

4 Tuscan Wines to Know

Toscana is famed for its selection of wines, but can you taste the difference? We sat down with San Felice, a renowned estate, to sip and savor a few of the region's classic styles of vino. Grab your tasting notebook and make a note of the four best Tuscan wines to keep in your repertoire (and your cellar).

San Felice spans three stunning areas of Toscana: Chianti Classico, Montalcino, and Bolgheri. With an estate in each territory, the taste of Toscana's terroir is on full display in their wines. In the 1980s, they dug deep into indigenous grape varieties of the region and created the Vitiarium, an experimental vineyard where they grow over 270 varieties of native grapes in an effort to protect Toscana's biodiversity. After years of study, they have been able to collect and classify the grapes that make up Tuscan viticulture heritage, and even blend them with the more well-known Sangiovese for complex and unique wines.

There's a reason why the great Tuscan red wines are beloved across the U.S. and the world – and the seasoned wine drinker will be able to taste the difference. Here are four of the best Tuscan wines to know, and to enjoy all year round.

Chianti Classico bottles

1. CHIANTI CLASSICO DOCG

A renowned red made from at least 80% Sangiovese grapes, Chianti Classico has been produced in the heart of Toscana since the 13th century. Sangiovese has always been the primary grape for this full-bodied red wine, harvested in mid-September to mid-October from vines that grow in limestone, clay, and sandstone-rich soils. Take note of the black rooster on the bottleneck – this is the official symbol of designated Chianti Classico DOCG!

Somm's Pick: San Felice Chianti Classico Gran RiservaProduced entirely from native varieties, predominantly Sangiovese with the addition of Colorino and Pugnitello grapes, this medium-bodied Chianti Classico boasts a distinguished personality and is notable for its elegance. Brilliant ruby red, with notes of cherry and violet, this wine pairs beautifully with everything from aperitivo spreads of Prosciutto Toscano DOP to pasta dishes and red meat.

chianti classico harvest

2. BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO DOCG

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG is the acclaimed appellation of Montalcino, a medieval hilltop town in the Tuscan countryside. Since the late 1800s, the iconic wine has been made exclusively with Sangiovese grapes, cultivated for the variety's deeply flavored wines. The power-finesse combination of the wine coupled with the majestic landscape have made Montalcino a destination for all Italian wine lovers.

Somm's PickCampogiovanni Brunello di Montalcino DOCGWith their estate on the southwestern side of Montalcino, in ideal soil and sun conditions, this wine is absolutely classic in style, aging three years in Slavonian oak casks and then another 12 months in the bottle before release after the required minimum of five years of aging. Recognizable for its finesse and longevity, the intense ruby color and notes of blackberry, tobacco, and leather make this an ideal pairing for another Tuscan favorite: Bistecca alla Fiorentina!

Red Wine at Eataly Los Angeles

3. SUPER TUSCAN

These iconic wines are among the most celebrated in Italy; however, they were invented less than 50 years ago, making them newcomers in the wine world. Their story began in the late 1960s when several daring winemakers in Toscana decided to incorporate modern techniques into the old wine-making traditions. Following a drive to produce a more approachable wine, winemakers planted international varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and aged the must in new, small French oak barrels instead of the large traditional oak barrels. Don't let the purists fool you – these wines are just as top-notch as the Sangiovese-dominant styles.

Somm's PickBell'Aja Bolgheri Rosso. Made with a mix of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, these younger vines are newer to the San Felice estate but have proven to make world-class wines. With a purple appearance in the glass and a bouquet of wild berries, this wine boasts velvety tannins.

Cantuccini

4. VIN SANTO

This "holy wine" is amber-hued and traditionally made from partly dried grapes, concentrating the sugars. While often found as a dessert wine on most menus, Vin Santo works just as well for aperitivo (try pairing it with aged cheeses for a delicious salty-sweet pairing). For a typical Tuscan dessert, Vin Santo goes extra well with the local cantucci – crunchy almond-studded biscotti that are perfect for dunking in a small glass of this viscous vino. Get our cantucci recipe here and pick up a bottle of Vin Santo to give it a try!

Somm's Pick: Belcaro Vinsanto Chianti Classico. Made with 100% Trebbiano grapes, the grape clusters are picked and laid out to dry, then pressed in December or January. The must ferments then ages 5 years in small French oak barrels, followed by a further 12 months in the bottle, for a Vin Santo with measured sweetness and hints of almond.

Pick up one of each bottle at your local Eataly wine shop or online at Eatalyvino.com. Salute!

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