AN OVERVIEW ABOUT TUSCAN WINES
Here is a little something about wine and our forefather's hopes; noble families
(Antinori Frescobaldi) and their
history and the world behind wine which was once only
something to drink during a meal (not
specialized methods); today we can drink a glass of wine all by itself, without any kind of food; with friends, it is a social habit, a reason to get together and keep each other company.
So when you drink a glass of wine, you can congure up an image of the hills of this extraordinary area and the fascination of the old traditional grapegrowers.
The three most important variables that give all Tuscan wines different characteristics are:
A: The different kinds of soil
B: The climate and microclimate
C: The different kinds of clones from the same grapes
A: In fact, we can find soils with stones called Galestro that keep the earth hot during the summer and
give the plants heat during the winter.
We can also find areas with different kinds of soil, with a lot of different minerals that give the plants and the grapes different aromas. For example, in
the south we have more clay which
maintains a lot of water at the base of the plant because it is waterproof.
B: Very important is the latitude of Tuscany that provide us with a mediterranean climate, hot summers and
cold winters, and so there are very big temperature differences between the two seasons.
Very important is the altitude that begins at sealevel and goes as high as 450 mt. above sealevel.
The microclimate is characterized by, for example, the wind from the sea in towns near the
seacoast where salt covers the skins of the grapes.
Different exposure to the sun (north or south) or the
inclination and position of the vineyards on
the hills, the presence in the area of higher hills that stop the clouds and let the rain fall more
than in other areas.
Let us start speaking about clones of the same grapes.
The most important grapes here are autocton grapes like
SANGIOVESE, CANAIOLO, COLORINO, TREBBIANO and MALVASIA.
At the base of almost all of the Tuscan wines there is
the SANGIOVESE grape that in Montalcino is the
clone BIG SANGIOVESE (big grapes with a thick skin); in
Montepulciano another clone in this area is called PRUGNOLO GENTILE, in the Maremma it is called MORELLINO because of the small-sized grapes;
In Chianti, the regular Sangiovese is produced, but with different clones to be ideal for any kind
of soil in a microclimate.
In Tuscany, other kinds of grapes are also used which are imported from France like: CABERNET SAUVIGNON, CABERNET FRANC, MERLOT, SAUVIGNON BLANC.
These grapes are used in blends for many kinds of wines or pure to produce the famous SUPERTUSCANS that are wines that because of the quantity of these non-autocton grapes, do not follow the rigid rules of Chianti, for example, and cannot be given the pecial denomination.
The vineyards in these towns are very old (15, 25 years)
and produce the best quality of grapes.
The plants start to produce grapes for making wine, only after 3 years from the time the grapegrowers have planted the vineyards.
The harvest starts in the middle of September for the young vineyards and for cabernet and merlot
grapes and goes on until the first week of October except for the white grapes like malvasia and
moscato; for them, the harvest starts in the last week of October and continues until the end of November.
After the harvest, the winemakers bring the grapes into the cellars where the fermentation process begins at controlled temperatures between 20 and 32° C for red wines.
A lower temperature of 15°C for white wines, without skins, so as not to give tannins to the wine.
They put the grapes in big stainless steel silos where the sugar starts to became alcohol and the enzymes give flavour to the wine.
After a variable period of 15-20 days, they filter the wine and put it in barrels of oak or small
barrels called barriques.
The wine with not much tannins is put in small barriques to give the wine tannins and more
flavour of toasted oak and smoke, because in order to bend the wooden planks of the small barriques, fire is used.
After 3 years, all the barrels have to be renewed so that the wood can give more perfume to the
wine. Small barriques are used because the surface area of wine in contact with the wood is greater and it
gives the wine more flavour in less time.
Of course, the law says how many years you have to leave the wine in the barrels.