27 May 2021

Tuscan wines: taste and quality

Tuscany wines: factors affecting taste and quality

Climate

Summers are long and fairly dry and winters are less severe than in northern Italy. Heat and lack of rain can be a problem throughout the area during the growing season.

Aspect

Vineyards are usually sited on hillsides for good drainage and exposure to the sun. Deliberate use is made of altitude to offset the heat, and black grapes grow at up to 1,800 feet (550 meters) and white grapes at up to 2,275 feet (700 meters). The higher the vines, the longer the ripening season and the greater the acidity of the grapes.

Soil

These are very complex soils with gravel, limestone, and clay outcrops predominating. In Tuscany a rocky, schistose soil, known in some localities as galestro, covers most of the best vineyards.

Viticulture and vinification

After much experimentation, particularly in Tuscany, with classic French grapes, the trend recently has been to develop the full potential of native varieties. Many stunning Cabernet-influenced, super-Tuscan wines still exist, and always will, but top-performing producers are seeking clones, terroirs, and techniques to maximize the fruit and accessibility of their own noble grapes. A traditional speciality is the sweet, white vin santo, which is made from passito grapes dried on straw mats in attics. It is aged for up to six years, often in a type of solera system.

Grape varieties

Primary varieties:

Secondary varieties:

  • Abbuoto
  • Aglianico
  • Albana ( Greco, but not Grechetto)
  • Albarola
  • Aleatico
  • Barbera
  • Bellone
  • Bombino
  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Canaiolo (Drupeggio in Umbria)
  • Carignan (Uva di Spagna)
  • Cesanese
  • Chardonnay
  • Ciliegiolo
  • Colorino
  • Gamay
  • Grechetto (Greco, Pulciano)
  • Inzolia (Ansonica)
  • Mammolo
  • Merlot
  • Montepulciano
  • Moscadelletto
  • Muscat (Moscadello, Moscato)
  • Nero Buono di Cori
  • Pinot Blanc (Pinot Bianco)
  • Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio)
  • Roussanne
  • Sagrantino
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Sémillon
  • Syrah
  • Verdello
  • Vermentino
  • Vernaccia
  • Welschriesling
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