Responsible for only 6% of Italy's total wine production in
2006 (half that of the Veneto) Tuscany may not be a heavyweight in terms
of quantity, but as the home of two of the country's most famous fine wines -
and Brunello di
Montalcino - it certainly is in terms of quality.
Tuscany is Italy's most ancient wine region dating back to the 8th century
BC when the Etruscans developed the area in parallel with the Greeks before
ceding to the Romans. Along with building roads and sewers, they developed the
region's viticultural potential, using wood for winemaking rather than
amphorae, and passing their expertise onto their French neighbours. With the
demise of Rome in the 5th century AD the Longobards established Lucca as the
capital of what was then known as Tuscia. Firenze (Florence) and Siena became
banking and trading hubs during the Middle Ages, with Chianti (then a white
wine) first documented in the 14th century.
Tuscany passed from the Medicis to the Hapsburgs as part of the Holy Roman
Empire and then onto the Austrian Empire before becoming part of a reunified
Italy in 1861. The quality of Chianti was first recognised by the Grand Duke of
Tuscany, Cosimo III, who classified its finest areas in 1716.
Located in the west-central part of the country with the Tyrrhenian Sea on
its coast, Tuscany's climate ranges from Mediterranean on the coast to
Continental deep in the Apennines. More than two-thirds of the province is
covered with hills, an important terroir factor in the production of
fine Tuscan wine. The finest areas are Chianti
Classico, Chianti Rufina, Brunello di
Montalcino, Vino Nobile di
Montepulciano, Morellino di
Scansano and Bolgheri. Sangiovese (in its
various clones) is the black grape of choice.
di Geggiano, Grati, Lisini, Monte Bernardi,
Romeo, San Giuseppe, Soldara, di Valgiano.