Tuscany is the Western centerpiece of famous paintings and legendary architecture. The name alone conjures up artistic inspiration in all walks of life, whether you’re a cook, writer, or painter.
When it comes to wine, Tuscany is widely considered by many to be the crown jewel. One of the most popular tour packages for visitors is to navigate the region’s one hundred plus wineries, some of which have been around since the 11th century.
Wines of Tuscany are so popular they’ve made their way into mainstream media, as seen by Hannibal’s reference to Chianti.
Want to branch out into the compelling waters of Tuscany wines? We’re going to explore the subregions of Tuscany, their most notable native grapes, and the leading wineries you should consider checking out.
A Look at Tuscany’s History
Tuscany’s narrow streets, green hills, and red brick are straight out of a dream. This region is not only distinctive in of itself, it borders other famous Italian wine regions like Umbria and Lazio.
Tuscany’s history stretches back far, well before the founding of the Etruscans and Romans. Once known as a center of trade and commerce, it has earned an artistic legacy through the emergence of the Renaissance.
This legendary art movement was made famous by artists such as Michaelangelo and Leonardo di Vinci.
Nowadays tourists flock to Tuscany to experience its famed World Heritage sites, such as the Cathedral Square Of Pisa and the Val d’Orcia.
Wine drinkers of all shapes and sizes soon find themselves exploring the mystique of Tuscany, particularly if they’re fans of aged, still reds.
What is the Most Popular Wine in Tuscany?
While Tuscany is bursting at the seams with rare and unique winemaking methods, it’s most well-known globally is the Chianti Classico.
This still red wine is made mostly with Sangiovese, a native Italian grape known for its ripe red fruit and herbal flavor notes.
Following close behind is the Brunello di Montalcino, a red wine produced in the small town of Montalcino.
What are Super Tuscans?
Super Tuscans is a term referring to a Tuscan wine that uses either native Italian grapes or international grape varieties. While many are blended, you can find Super Tuscans with single grapes.
Wine Regions of Tuscany
Before we dive into the wine regions of Tuscany, let’s clear up a little terminology. A wine region is any officially designated area for wine production, but it’s also a rather broad category.
Wine regions are sometimes separated into macroregions and subregions, primarily by size or production volume. Below are popular subregions of Tuscany you’ll want to keep an eye out for when purchasing wine.
Home to ancient castles and towering churches, Chianti is a dream trip for anyone eager to study history and art. Unsurprisingly, Chianti is also famous for gastronomic creatures, up to and including the famed Chianti red wines.
Chianti is made mostly with Sangiovese grapes, supplemented by other red grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon or Canaiolo Nero.
San Gimignano is a wine region located in northern Tuscany, well known for its drier and chalkier soil. This terroir gives the wine a more mineral-like kick, which is ideal for brighter whites and rosés.
Le Colline Senesi
This subregion is rather complex, holding within it three separate regions you can visit if you’re ever in Italy. These regions are San Gimignano, Montepulciano, and Montalcino.
As stated above, Montalcino is known for the prestigious Brunello di Montalcino. San Gimignano creates white wines with roots in medieval wine production, while Montepulciano prefers to craft blends.
Known as a microregion, Maremma is a tiny powerhouse of wine production. Many classic Italian wine grapes are produced here, such as Sangiovese, Trebbiano Toscano, and Vermentino.
Although Bolgheri doesn’t have quite the same age as older Italian wine regions, it’s quite popular for its sandy soil and consistently cool, breezy climate.
This terroir is ideal for crafting truly impressive Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and red blends.
Wineries of Tuscany
Tuscany is home to hundreds of wineries, many of which use vineyards that have been in use for generations. The wineries we’ve chosen below will give you a good idea of what to expect when exploring this captivating wine region.
A solid start to your Tuscany wine journey is with one of the most prolific names in wine production. Barone Ricasoli is a must-try winery, famed in Tuscany since the 1990s.
This winery is even older than that, however: the Ricasoli family has been influencing agriculture in the Chianti region since the 1100s!
The current owner of this winery is not only in love with the craft of winemaking but has a particular penchant for traditional art forms. When you try out this portfolio, you’ll enjoy a showcase of delectable wine and gorgeous paintings.
The primary wine grapes used in the Barone Ricasoli portfolio are Sangiovese, Merlot, and Chardonnay. If you want to try more aged varieties, seek out bottles with the Riserva label.
Starting out as a series of olive groves and farmland, Castiglion del Bosco expanded into a winery in the early 1960s to pull out the land’s deeper potential.
Today this winery offers wine tours and clubs to expose drinkers to the history that makes Tuscany such a stunning experience. Castiglion del Bosco is careful not just to preserve their hectares of land, but their aging cellars.
Their portfolio is a fantastic representation of Montalcino production, with careful attention to detail to soil quality, climate, and storage methods.
Alongside wine, Castiglion del Bosco produces olive oil and honey.
Tenuta Torciano is devoted to giving residents and visitors alike the most expansive experience of Tuscan wines. This family-owned winery first got its start in the Chianti region, though later expanded into San Gimignano.
Their extensive portfolio spans Chianti, Chianti Classico, and Brunello di Montalcino bottles, just to name a few. Their packaging is a stunning display of classical-styled art, practically begging you to get into the habit of collecting wine labels.
Not only do they provide quality wines, but they also run hotels, offer wedding venues, and provide regular tours. If you’re ever thinking of swinging by Tuscany on vacation, Tenuta Torciano is ready to give you the time of your life.
Best Wines of Tuscany, Italy
The best wines will always be whatever makes your taste buds sing. For this list, the wines we’ve chosen feature some of the most iconic representations of Tuscany, as well as less typical varietals if you prefer whites.
Ricasoli Brolio Riserva 2019
Crafted with a whopping five unique types of soil, this Chianti Classico from Ricasoli will be an experience you won’t soon forget. This bottle has won several awards and comes with a few years already on the bottle.
Aged Sangiovese leans into its herbal and earthy notes, so consider pairing this wine with a savory dish to push its contrast.
Castello Meleto Borgaio Chianti Classico, 2019
If you want to try a Chianti Classico on a budget, Meleto has a sumptuous offering just waiting for a spot on your wine rack. James Suckling, one of today’s best-known wine critics, gave this bottle a prestigious 91 out of 100 points.
Expect a range of red fruit and floral notes in this complex bottle, great for a red sauce-based ravioli or lasagna dish.
Vecchia Cantina Chianti Riserva DOCG, 2016
If you’re a fan of darker fruit notes, this Chianti Riserva is a must-try. Eschewing the more tart red fruit notes of younger Chianti, this bottle will go over well with fans of Merlot and Syrah.
Expect a velvety mouthfeel and more plummy, spiced flavor notes. This wine would mix well with roasted vegetables or a starchy, potato-based dish.
IGT Toscana Chardonnay 2021
Let’s step away from red varieties for a minute and take a look at white Tuscany wines. This young, fresh Chardonnay is a solid choice for wine drinkers with particularly sensitive palates.
With high minerality and acidity, this bottle pairs nicely with lighter fare such as chicken, fish, or salad. Unlike Chardonnay aged in oak, this bottle leans toward citrus fruit and a floral aroma.
Vermentino “Vittoria” Tuscan IGT Vintage 2021
Substance, meet style! Boasting a brilliant illustration of a peacock, this wine bottle hearkens to the breeding of peacocks near this winery’s wine cellars.
Using the native Vermentino grape, this bottle will be a big hit with fans of Pinot Grigio and Riesling. Enjoy delicate peach and lemon notes with a mineral aftertaste, great for a light barbecue or a flaky white fish-based dish.
Terre Di Talamo Vento Teso Viognier, 2020
Curious to see how Tuscany handles foreign grapes? This bottle of Viognier will change the way you look at the grape entirely, grown in a warmer region than its native France.
This bottle is stunningly full-bodied and a touch buttery, offering sweet fruit and jasmine notes that’ll linger on the tongue. Consider pairing this wine with a mild stir fry or a cheese-based charcuterie.
Arcanum Toscana IGT, 2015
Wrapping up this list is a bottle with a higher price point. With several years of aging to its name and a whopping 97 out of 100 points from James Suckling, prestige doesn’t even begin to describe it.
While more expensive wine doesn’t automatically equal quality, it’s easy to see why this bottle is a little expensive.
With a thick texture and a blend of tart and plummy fruit notes from several red wine grapes, this complex bottle is a shoo-in for a special occasion.
Why Should I Try the Wines of Tuscany?
Wines of Tuscany are a snapshot of older times. When you purchase from family-owned wineries, you try out techniques that have been polished over the course of centuries.
Tuscan wines have earned their prestige over several generations of family-owned businesses tending and cultivating Italian soil.
This wine region is separated into several subregions defined by unique winemaking methods, many of which have earned official designation from the Italian government. Chianti Classico is easily the best-known wine from this region, followed close behind by Brunello di Montalcino.
Single-origin and blended still reds are the dominant wine type here, but you can still find many native white wines and rosé variations.
Trying out Tuscan wines is a fascinating dive into Old World wine regions and the tender, loving care put into each bottle. Try these wines if you want to get a literal taste of what makes this region so famous.
Want to learn more about Old World wine regions? Check out our piece on Bordeaux here!