Tuscany, known as Toscana in central Italy, is a famously undulating and beautiful area noted as being the birthplace of artistic geniuses Michelangelo, Giotto and Da Vinci, science boffin Galileo, and opera singer Andrea Bocelli. Just as celebrated is its fine wine and an industry which encompasses the Supertuscan movement (including ultra-expensive Tignanello from Antinori) and Sangiovese-based Chianti Classico, Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino amongst other stellar wines.
The countryside is hilly and the climate harsh in winter but the region enjoys a long languid growing season and significant temperature variability between day and night, contributing to intensely concentrated, high quality grapes. Sangiovese has always been the traditional Tuscan go-to grape and although produced as a single varietal, it is also blended with varieties such as Canaiolo, Malvasia and Trebbiano. White grape production also includes Vermentino and Vernaccia. Traditionally the viticultural landscape was dominated by large wealthy estates owned by local noblemen but quality and investment deteriorated over time and only began to flourish again in the 1980s when vintners from Rome, Milan and Genoa introduced modern winemaking techniques and re-invigorated enthusiasm in the region.
Some of the most important estates are Fontodi and Bolgheri which makes the incredible, timeless red wine Sassicaia, and Angelo Gaja of Barberesco with his Ca’ Marcanda winery beloved of sommeliers and billionaires alike.
Image: Il Muro villa and vineyards, Tuscany; © Fattoria Il Muro.