A Quick Guide to Super Tuscans

The “Super Tuscan” has morphed. Once applied only to high-end Tuscan wines crafted outside the DOC and DOCG rules, now this label is employed frequently to almost any non-DOC or -DOCG Tuscan wine. After all, the term is unofficial. So are the wines. 

They usually bear one of the proliferating IGT designations. They may be varietal or blended. Any grape variety goes, local or international, and Bordelais grapes are often involved. Sangiovese is not required (remember, nothing is). White wines also use the moniker. Almost all of the wines, especially the higher-end wines, age in new French barriques. And, many of their names mimic those of the original Super Tuscans with their multi-syllabic names ending in “aia”.

Here’s a quick decoder to some of the most sought-after Super Tuscans, along with their second and, sometimes, third and even fourth wines. Percentages are approximate and subject to change depending on the vintage and the winemaker’s and owner’s whims. Cin cin!

Tenuta San Guido
Mario Incisa della Rochetta created the original Super Tuscan with 1968 bearing the first vintage of Sassicaia. Sassicaia was an immediate hit, and Mario hired the world-famous Giacomo Tachis to finesse his initial success.

1st - Sassicaia (Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC)
85% Cabernet Sauvignon
15% Merlot

2nd - Guidalberto (Toscana IGT)
45% Cabernet Sauvignon
45% Merlot
10% Sangiovese

3rd - Le Difese (Toscana IGT)
70% Cabernet Sauvignon
30% Sangiovese

Piero Antinori
Piero Antinori produced his first Super Tuscan, Tignanello, in Chianti Classico in 1971. This single vineyard wine was the first Cabernet Sauvignon-Sangiovese blend to be aged in French barriques. Tignanello is made only in the best years. Solaia, hailing from the same property as Tignanello, followed in 1978. Sangiovese was not originally part of its composition. In 1990, Guado al Tasso was born. Syrah played an important role in the blend until 2007.

Flagship - Tignanello (Toscana IGT)
85% Sangiovese
10% Cabernet Sauvignon
5% Merlot

Solaia (Toscana IGT)
75% Cabernet Sauvignon
20% Sangiovese
5% Cabernet Franc

Guado al Tasso (Bolgheri Superiore DOC)
65% Cabernet Sauvignon
20% Merlot
12% Cabernet Franc
3% Petit Verdot

Tenuta dell’Ornellaia
Ludovico Antinori founded this Tuscan coast estate in 1981 and produced his first Ornellaia in 1985. It was during this time that wunder-consultant André Tchelistcheff recognized the property’s hill of Masseto as a perfect place for Merlot. California’s Robert Mondavi became a shareholder in the late 1990s, eventually purchasing the property with the Frescobaldi family. In 2005, the latter became the sole owner. 

1st Reds - Ornellaia (Bolgheri DOC)
50% Cabernet Sauvignon
25% Merlot
20% Cabernet Franc
5% Petit Verdot

1st Reds - Masseto (Toscana IGT)
100% Merlot

2nd - Le Serre Nuove (Bolgheri DOC)
50% Merlot
30% Cabernet Sauvignon
10% Petit Verdot
10% Cabernet Franc

3rd - Le Volte (Toscana IGT)
55% Sangiovese
30% Merlot
15% Cabernet Sauvignon

Le Macchiole
The late Eugenio Campolmi established Le Macchiole in 1983. He passed just as his efforts were showing their fruit (literally), but his wife Cinzia took up the reins.  The estate’s (mostly) varietal focus is unusual.

Messorio (Bolgheri DOC)
100% Merlot

Scrio (Toscana IGT)
100% Syrah

Paleo (Toscana IGT)
100% Cabernet Franc

Paleo Bianco (Toscana IGT)
60% Sauvignon Blanc
40% Chardonnay

Tua Rita
Established in 1984 by Rita Tua and Virgilio Bisti, this property produces wines ranging from extravagant to affordable in price. All are very modern and mostly made from international varieties.

1st Reds - Redigaffi (Bolgheri DOC)
100% Merlot

1st Reds - Syrah (Toscana IGT)
100% Syrah

2nd Red - Giusto di Notri (Toscana IGT)
100% Cabernet Franc

3rd Red - Rosso di Notri (Toscana IGT)
60% Sangiovese
20% Merlot
10% Syrah
10% Cabernet Sauvignon

4th Red - Perlato del Bosco (Toscana IGT)
65% Cabernet Sauvignon
35% Sangiovese

1st White - Perlato del Bosco Bianco (Toscana IGT)
60% Sauvignon Blanc
40% Chardonnay

2nd White - Lodano (Toscana IGT)
50% Chardonnay
50% Traminer Riesling

Tenuta di Petrolo
Located on the edge of the Chianti hills in Colli Aretini, Petrolo was purchased by the Bazzocchi family in the 1940s and is today run by Lucia Bazzocchi Sanjust and her son Luca. These are flamboyant and modern Super Tuscan wines.

1st - Galatrona (Toscana IGT)
100% Merlot

2nd - Torrione (Toscana IGT)
100% Sangiovese (with some Merlot in poor years)

San Giusto di Rentennano
Originally an abbey for Cistercian nuns, this southern Chianti property came into the di Cigala family in 1914. Six siblings are now partners in the operations. Once again, the focus is on varietal reds.

1st - Percarlo (Toscana IGT)
100% Sangiovese

2nd - La Ricolma (Toscana IGT)
100% Merlot

Giovanni Manetti runs this estate near Panzano with the help of his consultant Franco Bernabei. Though the Manetti family has resided in Tuscany for centuries, their wine ventures are only a few decades old. While their Super Tuscan can now be classified as Chianti, Fontodi prefers its traditional IGT status. They make excellent Chianti, too.

Flaccianello della Pieve (Toscana IGT)
100% Sangiovese

Isole e Olena
Paolo di Marchi grew up in Piedmont but made his name in Tuscany. This is another Chianti estate that makes an exceptional Super Tuscan. Again, this 100% Sangiovese Super Tuscan can now be classified as Chianti Classico (and Riserva, too), but it remains an IGT.

Cepparello (Toscana IGT)
100% Sangiovese

An estate ahead of its time, Querciabella converted to organic viticulture in the 1988 then to biodynamics in 200. Interestingly, the property also utilizes a “100% vegan” approach to biodynamics. Older vintages of Camartina employed more Sangiovese. The white Batàr is named after Burgundy’s Batard-Montrachet.

1st - Camartina (Toscana IGT)
70% Cabernet Sauvignon
30% Sangiovese

2nd - Mongrana (Toscana IGT, Maremma)
100% Cabernet Franc

3rd - Batàr (Toscana IGT)
50% Chardonnay
50% Pinot Blanc