Escala 2018 – Vol. I: Toscana

Wine

25/02/2018

Oh, Tuscany! La bella Italia at its most romantic and hedonistic, the epitome of good food and drink. Champion of the arts with the history to back it up. Once you understand Tuscan wines, the prestige of Italian wine makes sense, and in doing so, you discover a small piece of heaven on Earth.

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Tuscany is home to wineries that have been in the same family for over five centuries. The most impressive example of them all is Antinori. This fact offers a perfect analogy for the deep roots and love of wine culture that characterize this transalpine country.

The enchanting landscape of Tuscany undoubtedly inspired and shaped the romantic idea that prevails in the imagination and collective unconscious of wine lovers everywhere: ochre hills and cypress trees as far as the eye can see; sweeping vistas of olive groves and vineyards where time stands still.

But there is so much more. Read on and take note...

 

5 reasons for a trip to Tuscany

  1. Florence

Quite possibly one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Florence and Tuscany go hand in hand. An inseparable pair that has become a recurring destination in world tourism.

Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, embodies noble beauty and the hedonism of connoisseurs. A piece of paradise on Earth, blessed with the best winegrowing conditions imaginable... and the patronage of the Medici.

The Brunelleschi dome that crowns Santa Maria dei Fiore has become the most iconic landmark of a city that exudes history, art and a love for good food and wine; where Michelangelo and Da Vinci left a lasting imprint of their art, and the French philosopher Stendhal experienced his famous eponymous syndrome, overwhelmed by the amount of beauty to take in. Because there is so much of it in Florence.

  1. Winegrowing in Tuscany: where time stands still

The region's winegrowing origins are lost in the fog of time. Perhaps this explains the profound sensation of humility, serenity and solitude one feels upon letting the eye wander and the feet and soul roam amid the Tuscan vineyards.

Italy's varied topography makes for a veritable garden where winegrowing extends across the country, covering hills and valleys, from volcanic terrain in the south to mountain ranges in the north.

Tuscany lies in central Italy, facing the coast and its maritime influence and stretching inland where the climate is more continental. This gives the region's winegrowing a kind of imaginary north-south division.

The coastal area lies at a low elevation and enjoys a maritime influence that is ideal for growing the international—or Bordeaux—varieties Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Further inland, the vines are exposed to generous shifts in daytime and nighttime temperature, a factor that favors the production of wines with vigorous acidity, lively fruit and solid structure, such as the timeless Sangiovese.

  1. Chianti and Sangiovese: an everlasting love

Of all the appellations of origin that make up the region, Chianti is the undisputed economic engine and heart of Tuscany's enological prestige—and, let's just say it, Italy as a whole.  Not for nothing is this appellation of origin responsible for 15% of all Italian wine exports.

Chianti is Italy's most exported wine (and the favorite of cinematic villain Hannibal Lecter). Although quality can vary greatly depending on the blend in question (international varieties can comprise up to 20% of the total coupage), the wines reflect the soul of the local grape par excellence, Sangiovese.

Elegant and aristocratic in bearing, Sangiovese produces wines with generous acidity and low tannin; moderately alcoholic, the variety ages beautifully in oak, acquiring complexity and offering a range of fruit aromas in the blueberry and cherry realm, along with forest floor, earthy, truffle and black olive notes.

  1. The Super Tuscans: a world apart

Super Tuscans are more than mere wines: the category was largely responsible for revamping the image of Italian wine and returning it to a position of prestige during the second half of the 20th century.

These wines are produced outside of the appellation of origin’s (DOC) regulations and made their debut in the middle of the last century.  The most iconic of the Super Tuscans is Sassicaia, a Cabernet Sauvignon varietal that has enjoyed international prestige since 1968.

The varieties Sangiovese, Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah, represented in an infinite array of blends, are the lifeblood of most Super Tuscans.

The most notable regions to produce these bottled delights are Bolgheri, Montecucco and Val di Cornia. So, keep an eye on those labels!

  1. Vin Santo and Vernaccia di San Gimignano: exceptions in a world of reds

It's the little things, the exceptions, that give life that extra dash of character. And if we're talking about exceptions in the world of Tuscan wine, the sweet Vin Santo and the fresh Vernaccia di San Gimignano are paradigms of identity.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano is the only white wine produced in the appellation of origin and comes from a very specific region west of Chianti. The wine is characterized by crisp acidity and strikingly nervy fruit. Occasionally, it is somewhat green, but exciting.

Vin Santo: sweet, natural, timeless

Although not exclusive to Tuscany (in exists in other parts of Italy and in Greece), it is nonetheless very representative of the region.

Vin Santo is usually made from white varieties (Malvasia, Grechetto or Trebbiano), which are laid out to dry in special rooms called fruttai until January.

The grapes then ferment in small chestnut or oak casks (caratelli). The aging process, which sees sudden shifts in temperature, can last up to eight years.

The result?

An exquisite nectar full of intense natural aromas of nuts, dried fruit and candied citrus notes. Unctuous on the palate, with a finish that lasts forever.

Gastronomy, history, art, wine and the kind of beauty that stirs the soul and awakens the heart. Tuscany encapsulates some of the greatest beauty humanity has ever achieved.

I give you my word as a wine lover.

 

Rafa Moreno

Categorías: Wine