What is a "Super Tuscan"?

I remember one day while working my boss was on vacation and a woman approached me to ask a question. She asked me what exactly is a "Super Tuscan"? I must admit that I heard the term once in a while and felt ashamed that i didn't have a good enough answer to give her.

Of course I Googled the term on one of the computers to see if I could help her but in all honesty being put on the spot really gave me the ambition to do some research so next time I would be prepared.

She said she joined a wine club and that week everyone had to bring a Super Tuscan to try. She really enjoyed the club because they didn't just drink the wine but they also discovered the history behind the wine.

She had an arm full of papers with a list scribbled down in different inks, fortunately the store wasn't too busy that day and I got to help her find a good Super Tuscan at a reasonable price.

Weeks later she came in to thank me and to tell me that she joined another club because all the people in the previous club didn't share the same ambition and that they just were showing off by buying the most expensive Super Tuscan they could find.

She laughed and told me that mostly everyone bought the same wine except from hers of course and she took the spotlight at that wine tasting for bringing something different.

Well to explain what a Super Tuscan is you have to look at the history of Italy. Italy is of course has one of the oldest wine making histories around. The Greeks and other settlers like the Etruscans were making wine many years before the Romans took over.

The Romans were among the first to organize and pioneer larger quantaties as well as barreling techniques. Thousands of years later Italy has become one of the largest producers of wine supplying almost one fifth of the worlds wine. I mean when you say the word Italian, you think wine (after pizza of course).

Vineyards take up most of the land in Italy so it's no wonder why italian wines are delicious. Because of all the vineyards and producers the italian government had to establish a law to protect and classify original formulated wines and to seperate superior wines. Wines like barolo and chianti are among these and adhere to a strict government guideline which classify them.

I know you are probably asking yourself "What Guidelines". Well in short the Italian government has four categories which wines fall into. These guidelines are (VDT),(IGT),(DOC), and (DOCG).

Unfortunately I will have to explain and break these down in another article but Super Tuscans fall under (IGT) and are becoming extremely popular in recent times. Super Tuscans didn't always fall into that category and at first were labeled "vino da tavola" which means basic red table wine and were looked upon as an inferior wine until they inherited their own category.

The reason why they are labeled Super Tuscan is because they aren't made in the traditional blending laws of the region. Most Super Tuscans contain Cabernet or Merlot which aren't found in traditional italian wines.

As to who made the first Super Tuscan, well your guess is as good as mine. Some say in 1970 Piero Antinori made the first by adding bordeaux varietals to his wine which he decided to name after his vineyard the grapes were harvested called Tignanello.

Others say his relatives gave him the idea and made Sassicaia before Tignanello. I also read that in 1968 a gentleman named Azienda Agricola San Felice created the first Super Tuscan called Vigorello so as to who created it first is still debatable. So next time you pick up a bottle and see Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Bordeaux blended with italian wine then you most likely are holding a Super Tuscan.

Many years later we are now at our present time and there are many delicious Super Tuscans to choose from. I hope my little research is informative and enjoyable as much as I enjoyed learning about Super Tuscans.

I still see the women from time to time and enjoy her wine club experiences with her as well as not only recommending but being recommended some great wines. Feel free to share your info or experiences with me in the comments below.