By Rick Riozza
Remember the story line in the Oliver Stone movie, Wall Street, starring Michael Douglas where “Greed is Good.” The Douglas character urges his new protégé to call up a Wall Street Journal-type of publication and leave the spurious clue, “Blue Horseshoe loves” a certain stock on the stock market. The firm would then go on to sell a bunch of blue-sky stuff.
Well—that’s what I’m kinda doing with the title of this particular piece—at least as to the idea. None of you readers are really going to be persuaded to purchase a bunch of Super Tuscan wine, just because I write that Superman loves the stuff and is hoarding it up—thus, increasing its value.
Believe me, I don’t have to make up or over-exaggerate the quality of an Italian Super Tuscan wine. After fifty years on the market, the wine world is well-aware of its stellar attributes. But full transparency here; I’ve just been alerted by the Super Tuscan Wine Consortium that I may be eligible to win yet another fully paid first class flight and one-week stay in Verona Italy to attend the 2023 VinItaly wine event next April.
You loyal readers may recall that four years ago, I won a week’s stay in Verona with 1st class airfare, due in part to my previous columns and writings on Italian wine alerting this Coachella Valley to the qualities of Italian wine. And I’ve had a fun time reminiscing about my adventure in a few of my past articles.
So allow me to humbly re-alert our desert wine enthusiasts to the eminence and repute of the Super Tuscan wine category.
Surely most of you wine enthusiasts already have an inkling as to what the wine is. A “Super Tuscan” wine is one that is produced not predominantly from the traditional Sangiovese grape, but from Italian Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cab Franc, Syrah, and perhaps a touch of Pinot Noir.
Of course your traditional wine from Tuscany is generally a Chianti made predominately from the Sangiovese grape. Early on, Chianti gained a poor reputation of being way too acidic for most American tastes. But as with all of the wine world, better wine making techniques made Chianti a very desirable wine—Sangiovese being a very tasty grape.
And another thing happened in Italy: Italian winemakers decided to branch out of the total Sangiovese mode to include many of the other great red grapes of the world (as we indicated above). But the “problem” was that existing Italian wine classification laws prohibited great wineries using the sought after DOC and DOCG designations—which guaranteed top quality wine.
The irony here was that the great wineries had to use the designation “vino da tavola”—what we would translate as “table wine”, when indeed they were blending and producing premium world class wine!
It all got resolved. By 1994, Tuscany was home to dozens of Super Tuscans. The government finally recognized that the region’s best wines deserved better than simple table wine designation and it introduced the IGT (Indicaione Geographica Tipica).
The top Super Tuscans are of course world famous. Some names you’d recognize include Tenuto San Guido which produces Sassicaia; Marchesi Antinori which produces Tignanello, Solaia, Guado al Tasso; and Tenuto dell”Ornellaia that produces Ornellaia and Masseto.
These wines are collector wines and sold for hundreds if not thousands of dollars, depending on the vintage. They embody the best of the Italian grapes made by the best Italian winemakers.
Okay—for most of us regular folks who wish to try a Super Tuscan-style wine without having to consider and re-adjust our monthly budget—here’s some good news: No exaggeration of heavy sales talk. The Super Tuscan-style wine of the week is only around $15 to $20 a bottle!
The 2019 Villa Antinori Toscana IGT is one of the best wines at the price anywhere. Wine Spectator magazine has just awarded it 90 points on the wine Richter scale. Quoting from Bruce Sanderson, “… this wine gains intensity from the cherry and blackberry flavors, which are augmented by earth, tobacco, and menthol accents. The solid structure lends support and vibrant feel, Blended from Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.”
I think it’s one of the best available Italian wines on our local market shelf. If you have an Italian meal planned—this is the bottle for your dinner table. Delizioso! Saluti!
Rick is your somm-about-town tasting all Italian wines you’re offering to share. Contact him at email@example.com.