Super Tuscans

We have just taken stock of three brilliant new Super Tuscan reds that epitomise this fine Italian red wine style: the 2016 vintages of Tignanello and Sassicaia, plus the 2015 vintage of Ornellaia.

Super Tuscans are not an official category of Tuscan wines, as they are largely not recognised within the Italian wine classification system.

The style came about largely incidentally, due to the work of Sassicaia (lit. the place of many stones), which was the creation of the marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, who made the pioneering move of planting the Bordeaux varietals of Cabernets Sauvignon and Franc at his Tenuta San Guido estate in Bolgheri way back in 1944 for his own personal consumption. It was nothing short of heresy at the time. Of tradition rebuked. The region's reputation was on the line. Imagine, using Bordeaux vine cuttings in the Tuscan hills; the land of Chianti. But it was for his own consumption.

Then, even more controversially, Sassicaia was released commercially in the 1968 vintage – entered the market in 1971 – and, in doing so, shaped a whole new generation of wines known as the Super-Tuscans, revolutionising Italy's image in the fine wine world. Sassicaia has since become synonymous with a standard of production that is without compromise, respected the world over. Sassicaia's wines have been described as 'an iron fist in a silk glove'; with their super silky and refined textures coating a full-bodied style.

Inspired by this move, the marchese Piero Antinori (the nephew of Mario Incisa della Rocchetta), created a 'Chianti-style' red that also ignored DOC regulations with its 1971 vintage blend of Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon known as Tignanello, released several years later. The hugely respected Antinori family, with its distinguished history of winemaking and banking in Tuscany dating back to the 13th Century and 26 generations, and it wasn't long before other Tuscan producers followed suit, including Ornellaia.

Ornellaia is situated in Tuscany's breathtaking Bolgheri district, and the hamlet of Bolgheri affords stunning views reaching out to Corsica on a good day, providing the inspiration and mild climate that help create this legendary wine, together with very strict controls on quantity, minute attention to detail in vineyard management and rigorous selection.