Tuscany was also the economic, political, and cultural center of Italy for many centuries including Medieval times with few small landholders but mostly the wealthy landowners or monestaries. The 14th century represented the height of the wine trade in Tuscany with families like the Frescobaldis, Ricasolis, and the Antinoris becoming established wine producers. In the 1950s this system of noble landowners with sharecroppers working the land came to an end and the vineyards and wine took a downturn. Begining in the 1980s investors from other parts of Italy and foreigners invested in the region and modernized the faciliites and vineyards moving aways from some of the tradtional winemaking and introducing international varietals. Recently, there has been a return to tradition but many of the gains in quality from the international investment have been retained giving us the best of both worlds.
68% of Tuscany is classified as hilly and teh elevation of plantings varies from near sea level on the coast at Maremma to elevations up to 500 meters. A high diurnal range in the most famous hilly regions of Tuscany contribute to the quality of wines.
Classificatinos – 48 DOCs and DOCGs in 2014 – producers often chose to use the IGT “Toscana” to avoid the restrictions.
About 50% of Tuscany’s 60,000ha of vines are classified as DOC or DOCG.
Chianti Classico – up to 20% non-Sangiovese allowed
Brunello di Montalcino – 100% Sangiovese
Vino Noble di Montapulciano – 30%in 2010 to allow up to 30% other grapes are allowed in Chianti which is often blended with Merlot to make the wine more approachable in youth.
International Varieties – Super tuscan trend and still rules changed to allow some international varieites
Bolgheri – has its own DOC, Sassica (also has its own DOC) near the coast this is “supertuscan” central and home to the vineyards supplying the grapes for Sassicaia, Masseto, Ornallia, Solera,… (I think) but Carmignano, Suvereto, and Cortona (Syrah) are also now international variety based.
Chianti – tangly dry red wines with chalky tannins, high acidity, cherry fruit but varying quality – It covers an area large enough to apply to 15,500 ha of vines and includes 7 sub-regions – Colli Fiorentini, Chianti Rufina, Chianti Montalbano, Chianti Colli Senesi, Chianti Colline Pisane, Chianti Colli Aretini, and Chianti Montespertoli or the label can simly say Chianti