What are the 5 original Super Tuscans?

Answered by Vince Keith

The term “Super Tuscan” was coined in the 1970s to describe a new style of emerging from Tuscany, Italy. These wines were known for breaking away from traditional winemaking practices in the region and incorporating non-indigenous grape varieties, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, into their blends.

While there have been numerous Super Tuscan wines produced over the years, there are five original Super Tuscans that are widely recognized for their impact on the wine industry and their role in shaping the Super Tuscan category. These wines are:

1. Sassicaia: Considered the pioneer of Super Tuscans, Sassicaia was first produced in the 1960s by the winery Tenuta San Guido. It was initially made as a private wine for personal consumption but gained international acclaim when it was entered into a wine competition in 1978, where it outperformed renowned Bordeaux wines. Sassicaia is a Bordeaux-style blend predominantly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, with a smaller portion of Cabernet Franc.

2. Tignanello: Produced by Antinori, one of Italy's most prestigious wineries, Tignanello was first released in 1971. It was one of the first Super Tuscans to use a significant proportion of Sangiovese, the traditional Tuscan grape variety, in its blend. Tignanello also includes smaller amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. This wine played a crucial role in challenging the regulations of the Chianti Classico DOCG, which required the use of white grape varieties in production.

3. Ornellaia: Created by Tenuta dell'Ornellaia, a renowned winery located in the Bolgheri region of Tuscany, Ornellaia made its debut in 1985. It is a Bordeaux-style blend mainly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Ornellaia quickly gained recognition for its elegance, finesse, and aging potential, solidifying its position as one of the original Super Tuscans.

4. Solaia: Produced by Antinori's Tignanello estate, Solaia was first released in 1978. Similar to Tignanello, Solaia incorporates a significant proportion of Sangiovese in its blend, along with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Solaia has consistently received high praise from critics for its complexity, structure, and aging potential.

5. Masseto: Although not a true Super Tuscan in the traditional sense, Masseto deserves mention as it has played a significant role in shaping the reputation of Tuscany's premium wines. Made solely from the Merlot grape variety, Masseto is produced by Tenuta dell'Ornellaia and has achieved cult status among wine enthusiasts. Its rich, concentrated flavors and plush texture have garnered international acclaim and elevated the status of Merlot in the region.

These five original Super Tuscans have not only showcased the potential of international grape varieties in Tuscany but have also challenged the traditional winemaking practices and regulations of the region. Their success has paved the way for countless other Super Tuscan wines, each with its own unique character and expression of the Tuscan terroir.