Sommelier from Ornellaia serving a guest the Ornellaia Super TuscanSommelier from Ornellaia serving a guest the Ornellaia Super Tuscan

All about monumental Tuscans

«Super Tuscan» – the term given to a new class of premium wines produced in Tuscany that were actually classified under the simple «vino da tavola» label.

Legend has it that the term first came about at a wine tasting in London. A customer tried a Tuscan wine and exclaimed: «This is a super Tuscan!» At the time, Bordeaux wines served as a model for many Tuscan wines: international grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet franc or Merlot that were aged in barriques. This is also how the first Super Tuscan was created – Sassicaia, from Tenuta San Guido. Winemaker Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta dreamed of a wine made from classic Bordeaux grapes, so he planted Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet franc in the family vineyard. For many years, this was how the Incisa della Rocchetta family’s house wine was made, and it was consumed not long after pressing.

But the family only discovered how good the red wine assemblage tasted after a couple of years, when one day they discovered a forgotten bottle left ageing in the cellar. The result was impressive, and thus the 1968 Sassicaia was presented to the public in 1971. Shortly after this came the Tignanello (1971 vintage), produced at the Piero Antinori winery.

Both wines were marketed as «vino da tavola» as they didn’t meet any of the classification requirements in force at the time. But ever since 1992 it had been prohibited to declare the vintage on such table wines, so it was necessary to issue new regulations – which came in the form of igt labels. Wines at these quality classes are characterised by their geographical distinctiveness. However, the regulations are quite flexible, so the quality label also includes wines like Super Tuscans, which don’t necessarily use conventional Tuscan grapes. We mostly think of Super Tuscans as red wines. But what many don’t know is that white wines can also bear this title. The conditions for producing this kind of premium wine can only be found in prime locations in the Maremma and around Bolgheri, a district of the municipality of Catagneto Carducci. The vines there receive optimal sun exposure while also being afforded protection from wind, rain and cold. But soil condition is just as important, as each grape variety has its own unique requirements. It is the cellar master that tips the scales here – whose vast knowledge of the trade gives him the skills to blend the grapes in such a way that the fine wine’s flavour appeals to a wide audience. These wines are almost always aged in barriques, whether it’s for weeks, months, or even years.

By the way: Bolgheri has had its own doc designation since 1994. Originally intended only for the classic Sassicaia red wine, the label has since been approved for use by other wineries.

Our wine recommendations

  1. - +
    Italy, Tuscany
    53 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 25 % Merlot, 15 % Cabernet franc, 7 % Petit Verdot

    75 cl
    Ornellaia – Bolgheri doc superiore, Ornellaia
    CHF210.00 netto n
  2. - +
    Italy, Tuscany
    85 % Cabernet Sauvignon, 15 % Cabernet franc

    75 cl
    Sassicaia – Bolgheri Sassicaia doc, Tenuta San Guido
    CHF275.00 netto n
  3. - +
    Italy, Tuscany
    Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet franc, Merlot

    75 cl
    Guado al Tasso – Bolgheri doc superiore, Tenuta Guado al Tasso
    CHF132.00 netto n

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