Using “super” as an adjective, as in super smart, is super common in everyday writing and conversation. There’s data to support this notion. Use started increasing in the 1930s. It took off in the 1970s and surged by 500% into commonplace status from 1994 to 2012. The term Super Tuscan was way ahead of this curve. It was coined in the early 1980s before “super” became super cool.
- He saw the growing global popularity of international red varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc – a style he loved and had planted in the 1940s.
- The terroir of Bolgheri is similar to Bordeaux, perfectly suited to growing quality international varieties (but not necessarily Sangiovese). In a bold move, the Marquis hired famous enologist Giacomo Tachis.
- The first commercial vintage of Sassicaia was born in 1968. It was made outside the regulations, without Sangiovese. It wasn’t called Super Tuscan. It had to be labeled “table wine” (vini da tavola).
- He introduced Tignanello in 1971. It is widely considered to be the first real Super Tuscan because it blended native Sangiovese with international Cabernet Sauvignon.
- Tignanello still had to be classified as table wine. The price rivaled quality offerings such as Brunello di Montalcino and Barolo.
- American wine critic Robert Parker is widely credited with inventing the term Super Tuscan. By 1992, it was clear to winemakers and regulators that they had to reach a compromise. If the wines were substantially better than table wines, but not capable of meeting the delimitation of the quality appellation, then what?
- A new category called Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) was created to limit and manage quality and convey the typicity of the region.
- The highest quality level, Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Guarantita, or DOCG, was also introduced in 1992.
Trends with Super Tuscans
- After more than two decades of booming success, the market cooled as new entrants diluted the quality and ratio of supply to demand.
- Second, the cost of the original Super Tuscans escalated to a price point out of reach for many wine enthusiasts.
- And finally, the wine industry’s “back to the future” movement, which prizes native and traditional grapes, is very strong.
Want to learn more about Tuscany and Super Tuscans? Check out our Italy Wine Tours page.
Profile of Tenuta dell’Ornellaia
- Le Volte, which includes Sangiovese in the blend
- a “second wine,” called Le Serre Nuove
- a red blend, available only at the estate, called Variazione in Rosso
- Poggio alle Gazze, made from Sauvignon Blanc
- Ornus, which is a late harvest Petit Manseng
- a Grappa Riserva
- and the newest offering, Ornellaia Bianco
As you can see, Super Tuscans are varied with a style all their own, and worth the time to explore!
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