Winecast: Super-Tuscans

Winecast: Super-Tuscans

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Language: English

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Number of phrases: 358

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00:00
hello everyone welcome to the wine caste as promised on the last caste this one will spend some time talking about Super Tuscan wines they're interesting for a lot of reasons and one of them certainly is that Super Tuscan might be one of the most tossed around but also most hazel-e defined terms in the wine world it's also just a pretty great story it's got wine intrigue and more Italian nobleman than an opera by Puccini normally be tempting to start with the definition of the term and go from there but defining Super Tuscan is half the problem and maybe the best place to start is with the history of the Super Tuscan movement if you've seen the cast
00:30
on Italian wine classification then some of that has should be familiar to you already if you haven't this might be a good time to check that cast out and then head back to this one when the first version of the Italian wine classification system was rolled out in 1963 it had two tiers one for quality wines and one for table wines the quality tier was already subdivided into two parts but the stricter of the two parts the DOCG level wouldn't be awarded to an area for another 17 years and for the purposes of the Super Tuscan story
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we can skip over it but again the cast on Italian wine classification covers it so head over there if you want some additional information the long and the short of the quality or do si tier was that in order for wines to receive this designation they had to be produced under fairly strict regulation that covered all aspects of grape growing and wine production if a wine wasn't produced in accordance with these requirements the only thing that could be done was to declassify it to the only other available tier table wine or vanilla table a tear meant to house an
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expensive wines with little expectation of quality from a start the system found itself confronted by a lot of angry winemakers whose main frustration was the system was both rigid and and inflexible the main problem being that regulations for do si wine were often the product of goals and values different from those quality winemakers on the one hand during the 60s the Italian wine industry was going through a phase that emphasized volume and while the goal was still to produce quality wine at the do sea level the goal was also to produce lots of it and some
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specifications for the various do C's often seem to reflect the desire for quantity over that for quality even more stifling was the role that tradition played in a lot of these regulations for instance by 1967 the chianti do C required a specific formula for its eponymous blend that with some modifications was based on the formula developed by the Baron Betty Noriko solely in the 19th century it specified no more than 70% Sangiovese in the blend and a minimum of 10% to a maximum 30
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percent of the remaining blend had to be filled with the white grips Malvasia and/or trevia no any slack the white grapes didn't take up had to be filled with a local red grape can Iola and perhaps some other local Reds these regulations had a lot to do with tradition as the RIC isola formula had some age and was widely used but adding otherwise undistinguished grapes like kanaiolowalu sia and try B&O to the blend was also a practice congenial to increasing output by stretching the Chianti though some producers would have referred the term thinning instead these
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issues weren't unique to Tuscany where Chianti is located and winemakers elsewhere in Italy were also feeling the regulatory pinch but a series of events in Tuscany during the 1970s propelled Italian winemaking in a new direction and laid the groundwork for substant of changes to Italian wine law two decades later the first of these events happened in 1971 when the marques and Mario & Cheese a la vachetta a tough skin nobleman and wine maker released the 1968 vintage of the wine Sassicaia under the label of his winery to
03:39
nitta-san guido Sassicaia was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc to varietals most closely associated with Bordeaux and France but that the marques had been growing on his estate since at least the mid 1940s these two varietals were not approved however for the quality wine area where the grapes were from so for years the Marchesa had been making this blend as a wine for personal and family consumption since his only other option for releasing the wine would have been to release it as a table wine or a vanilla table but when he did release a table wine or no it made a
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huge critical splash with one very well-known critic Luigi varanelli famously punning on its venal otavalo designation and calling it instead of you know the favela or a fable or fairy tale wine much of the credit for getting Sassicaia on the market though goes to the two men who convinced the Marchesi to commercialize it his son the future marques and Niccolo inches adubato geta and the Marquez's nephew and Nikolas cousin the marques APA Antinori Nikola would go on to assume his father's place as the head of the new the Sun Guido and
04:42
continue to produce wine under that label but Piero Antinori would cause an arguably bigger sensation than his uncle and cousin did when he released his own wine Pina nella based on an earlier conventional Chianti Classico do see wine starting in 1971 it began including Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend costing at its DLC status then in 1975 Piero antenori decided to drop the whites altogether this move in addition to creating an excellent highly regarded
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wine created the style most commonly associated with the moniker Super Tuscan a majority of Sangiovese blended with a minority of so-called international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon cab franc or Merlot and of course like its famous cousin Sassicaia it was classified as a table wine though that all red vintage of Tina nella was from 1975 it wasn't released until 1977 and in that year a 100% Sangiovese from Chianti was released let Betty girl
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authority by the Monteverdi nay estate the following year Piero antenori released a second wine celaya that was an 80/20 cab soft Cab Franc blend the later iterations would include Sangiovese and just when he thought you couldn't get yet another Italian nobleman up in there the marques Ludovico Antinori Piero's kid brother released the 1985 vintage of horn Alya a cab saw of Cab Franc Bordeaux style blend and the next year he released Masetto a varietal merlot both made from vineyards in a coastal part of Tuscany
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called the marama which is also the area where Sassicaia was produced and these are just some of the heavy hitters but there were also numerous small producers moving in the same direction with their wines and all of it having to be classified as table wine because of its break with the do si regulations by the 1980s the wines that were breaking with the do see regs for the sake of quality production from Tuscany were collectively being called Super Tuscans a term first coined by English language critics and incidentally rarely used in
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Italy in reference to their quality in the acclaim they were receiving these wines left Italian wine authorities in an odd situation some of the most highly regarded wines being produced in Italy were being classified as bought into your wines in a category with limited expectations for quality to remedy this situation changes needed to be made in Italian wine law and the first step was to make alterations to the requirements for do sea level wines remember the problem that quality wine producers faced really just boiled down to two issues first producers working at the
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DLC level had limited options for the grapes they could work with either because they were required to use certain usually local grape varieties or were forbidden from using certain usually international grape varieties second if they were happy with the grape varieties they had to work with producers still were often limited in how they could blend those grapes or were compelled to blend the grapes and were not allowed to produce 100% varietal wines one set of solutions involve changing the requirements for wines to be produced at the quality tier
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in 1984 Chianti was redesignated as a DOCG the upper level of the quality tier that was first awarded in 1980 the new regulations for the DOCG lowered the minimum amount of white grapes and the wine from 10% to 2% and allowed international red varieties like caps off Merlot and Syrah to be used for up to 10% of the blend in 1996 these rules were changed again to remove the minimum for white grapes entirely though producer could still add them in if you wanted to and to up the minimum
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permitted for international varieties to 15% finally in 2006 the rules for County clásico DOCG eliminated white grapes from that blend completely and required that Sangiovese and make up a minimum of 80% of the blend up from 70% in the previous regulations another tack was to create new do C's that met the needs of quality producers 1994 saw the expansion of the Bulgaria DLC which was originally created to cover roses and whites covering the area near
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the coast of Tuscany where Sassicaia or the lion other Super Tuscan producers were growing their graves the rules for reds in this DLC emphasized wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc while permitting the addition of Sangiovese and other local or international varieties if desired but farther south in 2011 Marama Toscana was created and this dlc allowed wines to be produced in a variety of blends of local and international varieties then in 2013 the new the son Guido was granted its own do
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see the Bulgaria Sassicaia do see the only single estate in Italy to have this privilege and wines made here can only be made from grapes grown at tenuta son guido and must be a minimum 80% Cabernet Sauvignon but the most far-reaching changes to be enacted happened in 1992 with the addition of the IGT or indica Tiana's yo grafica topeka tyr to the quality scheme placed between the quality do-si-do cg tier and the table wine tier it was meant to be a less
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regulated option for producers to work in allowing for more freedom to experiment in order to find fresh routes to quality this category was a hit not only with Super Tuscan producers who immediately began releasing their wines using this designation but it was helpful to producers throughout Italy who were facing the same issues as the Tuscans today there is owns in Alba - of at least 20 major wine regions so what is a Super Tuscan and how do you even know you're buying one those are surprisingly difficult questions to
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answer the label won't help very much since the only time ironically that you're going to see the phrase Super Tuscan on a label at all is if that wine is made outside of Italy by a winery that's trying to imitate the particular Sangiovese A+ international varietal style the people think of when they think of Super Tuscans now that's actually a pretty limited way of thinking about these wines considering that several of the key players in the movement like orna Lyon Sassicaia have no Sangiovese in them at all and several others were made totally out of Sangiovese with no other varietals
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international or local the truth is that Super Tuscan is more of a concept than it is a style and that's where the lies see the concept behind the movement was to deliberately work outside of the do see regulations in order to make a wine of quality greater than could be made within the do see but as changes to the do see and DOCG regulations have been made over the past few decades the difference is between say a super Tuscan produced outside of the quality wine tier of the pyramid and a wine produced
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inside of it have become blurred also you shouldn't forget the quality is an integral part of the Super Tuscan concept and that the particular blend was always a means to quality and not an end in itself it only takes a moment's reflection to see that just making a blend of mostly San Gio with some cab sovereign or low doesn't guarantee that your wine will even be good let alone super and one of the major criticisms of the current state of Super Tuscans is that the concept has been boiled down to a formula that doesn't involve much more than blending certain grapes together this criticism is especially cute when
11:58
talking about wines made outside of Italy particularly in California or Washington State that market themselves as Super Tuscan styled wines but other than the fact that they're combining San Gio with one or more international varieties it's hard to see what's particularly Tuscan about these wines no matter how super some of them may be all this has left some critics and consumers wondering whether the category of Super Tuscan has a future at all or if it's been played out and really only belonged to a particular historical moment before the Quality Framework had been restructured these are all pretty weighty questions
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but on the bright side they're probably best tackled over a nice glass or two of Tuscan wine so you'll at least have a good time while hashing out the main issues that's it for this wine cast thanks for joining me and please like and or subscribe if you've enjoyed this cast I'd love to hear from you in the comments and would be especially glad to know what topics you'd like me to cover in future casts I'm the unknown wine caster and I'm out as always please enjoy the grape but please enjoy it responsibly

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