At the Italian Wine and Food Institute tasting last week, few journalists asked questions of note except for our beloved Ed McCarthy. Ed was quite insistent that “super-tuscans” are yesterday’s news. Super-tuscans are generally a blend of Sangiovese and either Merlot or Cabernet or both.
The winemakers listened to Ed’s comments and their reactions were interesting. Most said that there is no risk of losing Sangiovese as a grape because it will be and has always been the premier grape in Central Italy. Others added that while respecting tradition, they too wanted to be able to experiment and have a little fun doing something slightly different. Still another fellow, I believe Adolfo Folonari from Ruffino noted that Sangiovese was a hard grape to grow and that it did not grow that well in all areas. He added that this is the reason Chianti Classico has always been a blend. I found this back and forth quite interesting. Bolgheri, for example, and other parts of Maremma have soils similar to Bordeaux and thus are perfectly suited to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I have always thought about the Super-Tuscan issue as being one related to price – they can be more expensive – and appealing to the American palate – which likes Cabernet and Merlot. I have never really looked at it from the point of view of a producer who wants to be creative in the vineyard. Short-sighted on my part obviously.