Tuscany, along with Piedmont, is the foundation upon which Italy’s wine reputation has been built. In total, there are 29 wines with DOC status produced in the region. It is also home to 7 of Italy’s DOCG areas, and many premium non-classified wines.
Chianti accounts for a large part of the region with the most prestigious DOCG Chianti Classico wines coming from the beautiful central hills, which provide a tempering effect on the summertime heat, many vineyards are planted on the highest slopes. The principal grape variety is Sangiovese, alongside other indigenous and international varietals.
This area is huge with industrial cooperatives alongside tiny family farms and as such quality can vary substantially. To the south near the town of Siena is Montalcino, where again Sangiovese is key, though here it is a local strain, Brunello, or more officially Sangiovese Grosso, that produces Brunello di Montalcino and Rosso di Montalcino.
Historically Brunello needed considerable ageing, and the minimum age before release is still 4 years. However Brunello is now being produced that is delicious from release as well as having good potential for ageing – the best of both worlds and an essential development in the face of changing modern tastes.
Coastal Tuscany, particularly the area around the beautiful village of Bolgheri really hit the map in the 1970s as a new class of wines known as “Super Tuscans” emerged. These wines were made outside DOC/DOCG regulations, using international varieties, some were considered to be of outstanding quality and received high scores from the critics and commanded surprisingly high prices for the time.
Capoverso, which literally means ‘new beginning’, is a tiny estate outside Montepulciano, single-handedly owned and operated by Adriana Avignonesi della Lucilla.
Using her extensive winemaking background, and following the sale of her family’s famous Avignonesi estate nearby, she now farms 11 hectares and creates beautifully nuanced wines of which she is justifiably proud.
The oldest vines are 35 years old and produce wines which are very elegant, pure expressions of Sangiovese. There are plantings of a few local varieties as well as Syrah in the DOC Cortona. Capoverso also produces a superb Vin Santo – a wine on which the Avignonesi family made their name. The lengthy, painstaking work it takes to produce this rare wine is truly astonishing and few wineries make a Vin Santo of this quality.
In addition to her talents in the winery, Adriana is also a proficient artist. She designs all the eye-catching labels herself, having formerly created the well-known labels of Donnafugata. Each one tells the story of this independent, inspiring lady and her wonderful wines.
Should you wish to sample some reasonably priced Tuscan wines I have included two extremely pleasant expressions that are in the middle stages of their best years:
2014 Syrah, Capoverso, Tuscany, Italy
This wine has a lively bouquet with hints of red fruit. On the palate, it is dry, intense, harmonic and well-balanced with pronounced fruity flavours.
Perfect for right now as this Syrah shows its best form between 2017-2020
2014 Rosso di Montepulciano Capoverso, Tuscany, Italy
Ruby red. Intense, winery and typical bouquet with hints of red fruit. At the palate it is round, generous, dry and harmonic and has a firm and well balanced personality. Good persistence. Drinking well right now this wine has a guideline of drinking
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