Under the Tuscan Sun

“Life offers you a thousand chances... all you have to do is take one.”
― Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun


A 1986 Ferrari Testarossa idling in Neutral

Only one color comes to mind when you think about two very specific Italian things: 1. A Ferrari and 2. Tuscan Wine: RED

But let me remind you about a certain Detective Sonny Crockett (AKA Don Johnson) from the 1980's television show Miami Vice. What did Detective Crockett drive? A Ferrari. But was his luxury vehicle red? Nope, it was white. And like Don Johnson's car, Tuscany also has wine that is white.

But we'll get back to all that.


A white 1986 Ferrari Testarossa - First Gear

First, known for its landscapes, history, artistic legacy, and its influence on high culture, Tuscany is regarded as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. Home to many figures influential in the history of art and science and containing several well-known museums, Tuscany is known for regarding it's wine as a delicacy, an art form and as something sacred. Which makes sense, as the most widely planted grape varietal in Tuscany is Sangiovese, which derives its name from the Latin sanguis Jovis, "the blood of Jupiter" (Jupiter being the King of the Roman gods, equivalent to the Greek god Zeus).


A white 1986 Ferrari Testarossa - Second Gear

A 1986 Ferrari Testarossa can go from 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds. We're going to start going pretty quickly here, you're expected to keep up! (Wink)

In Tuscany there are Four major wine categories. Chianti, Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. At the heart of all of these is Sangiovese. A fifth category, also with Sangiovese at its core, is a Super Tuscan. But to understand what a Super Tuscan is, we need to travel to Bordeaux, France.


A white 1986 Ferrari Testarossa - Third Gear

Bordeaux, France.

A river runs through Bordeaux (three actually. But that will be another lesson for another day). Staying on track, on the Left Bank of said river the wines are Cabernet Sauvignon dominant. On the Right Bank they are Merlot dominant. But on either side, one thing is absolutely certain (by French Wine Law). Bordeaux wines must be blends. The percentages don't matter at all, and whether or not they use all of the five admissible grape varietals doesn't matter either; that's up to the winemaker's discretion. But the blend must be made up of (any) combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petite Verdot.

Back to Tuscany.

In the late 1970's/early 1980's Tuscany underwent a 'wine revolution.' Growers started seeing the potential of Cabernet Sauvignon and decided to utilize it. The term Super Tuscan was coined and they started something new. Taking the example of Bordeaux-style blends, the Tuscans decided to do the same. They began growing Bordeaux varietals and making Bordeaux-blend style wines. But with one major exception. The Super Tuscans also include Sangiovese.


A white 1986 Ferrari Testarossa - Fourth Gear

Ok, enough of the Reds.

Much like the Ferrari we are currently driving in this narrative, there is also a major white varietal from Tuscany.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano.

Grown around the hillside of San Gimignano, Vernaccia is crisp and acidic and is referred to by the Tuscan's as the wine that kisses, licks, bites and stings.

Thank God, we're driving fast!


A white 1986 Ferrari Testarossa - Fifth Gear

Ok, enough of the romance.

Time to get back to God.

Another wine style from Tuscany is Vin Santo, which translates to Holy Wine.

The Fattoria La Vialla 'Occhop di Pernice" that we'll be trying this week, like our red selections, is made of Sangiovese. So a holy wine made from the blood of a god.


A white 1986 Ferrari Testarossa -Parked

Our journey through Tuscan wines this week is going to be a lot of fun. We'll test drive Vernaccia, Sangiovese and Vin Santo; hitting all the marks.

See you there!

(Ferrari Not Included)


The Wine Shop Team

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