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Colli della Toscana Centrale IGT
The Colli della Toscana Centrale IGT (translated as "Hills of Central Tuscany") designation was created in 1995 to cover the increasing number of wines made from international varietals that were falling outside the established DOC and DOCG system. This had the odd effect of making some of Italy's most coveted wines technically Vino da Tavolos, or "Table Wines." These wines were known colloquially as Super Tuscans, and they are now typically bottled as Toscana IGTs, though Bolgheri has its own DOC and the Super Tuscans from Montalcino are entitled to use the Sant'Antimo DOC. Colli della Toscana Centrale is a more specific form of Toscana IGT, not used universally, that covers those wines produced around and between Florence and Siena; in other words, the broader Chianti Classico zone as opposed to Tuscany at large.

Many, but not all "Super Tuscan" wines originate from the Chianti Classico region. The first Super Tuscan was Sassicaia, although the term was not in use at the time. This wine appeared commercially in 1968, even though the original vineyards were planted as early as 1944. Today, Sassicaia is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. The estate is located outside the Chianti Classico region in Bolgheri, equidistant from Sienna and Florence, with vineyards on slopes that are only four-and-a-half miles from the sea at their closest point. Bolgheri benefits from a striking maritime climate that has given it great quality potential and the region has proven to be a hotbed for high-end Super Tuscans.

Inspired by Sassicaia, Piero Antinori and his winemaker created Tignanello in the early-’70s. This Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese blend was designed to demonstrate the true potential of such combinations, which Chianti regulations would not permit. The rules were circumvented by labeling it not as a "Chianti," but as Vino da Tavola, or "table wine," even though the pricing was that of a premium wine. This opened the floodgates, and now virtually all major Chianti producers have a Super Tuscan label in their portfolio.

The fashion has spread to unblended Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, and even Sangiovese. A significant feature of the production of Super Tuscan wines is aging in small French barriques, a global fashion adopted for most modern premium wines that is now being adopted more frequently for Chianti Classico Riserva bottlings. In this manner and many others, the emergence of Super Tuscan labels has served to greatly increase the quality of Chianti Classico through cross-fertilization of modern techniques with more traditional wine styles. As a result, Tuscany can now be looked to for some of the world’s most exciting and innovative super-premium wines!

Super Tuscans are made in a bewildering array of styles and there is often precious little information on all those beautiful labels as to what varietals the wine therein was even blended from. Tracking down that information can be tricky for the consumer, yet there is no better guide to what might be in the bottle than the type of grapes it was made from.

Most Super Tuscans follow the Bordeaux varietal–Sangiovese blend formula, with the major difference being which varietals are dominant. The classic Tignanello split of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet is popular as is the inverse Solaia-type blend with Cabernet in the ascendant. Finally, there is an accelerating trend toward 100% Sangiovese Super Tuscans (a sort of “Super Chianti”) and even the incorporation of different varietals altogether—particularly Syrah.

Wines with a majority of Sangiovese will be leaner in structure, with lighter colors and more pronounced acidity. They will also tend to have that classic, exotic, “Mediterranean” perfume. A fraction of Cabernet tends to round them out in the mouth. When Cabernet or Merlot is in the majority, the addition of Sangiovese tends to give the wine a more linear cut, or liveliness in the mouth. Sangiovese will also add a dash of complexity to the nose. (Wine/Appellations)