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On this episode, your host Keith Beavers closes out the primary season of Wine 101 with a dialogue about Tuscany. Beavers explains that winemaking in Tuscany revolves across the Sangiovese grape, however many areas have their very own names for the grape, in addition to their very own types of wine produced from it. For instance, Chianti, which dominates the American market, is produced from Sangiovese, however the wines from this area are shiny and fragrant and emit notes of cranberries and cherries. A few of these flavors come from the area’s terroir, however, as all the time, some are merely instilled by the winemaker’s design.
Conversely, one other in style Tuscan wine is Brunello di Montalcino. This wine additionally makes use of Sangiovese, however the particular selection it requires is properly acclimated to dry, arid areas and produces a really concentrated purple wine. It was first created by Ferruccio Biondi-Santi, who needed to age a wine far previous the necessities for Chianti. The end result was an enormous, structured wine that was so in style, a crew tried to provide counterfeit variations with Syrah and Merlot, and have been ultimately jailed.
Beavers traces the histories of those wines and different grapes all through this episode, however warns listeners to look ahead to a deeper dive in Season 2. The following season will extra particularly study winemaking in Chianti, in addition to elements of Argentina, Chile, and South Africa. Followers can observe Beavers on Instagram at @VinepairKeith, the place he’ll ultimately share the Season 2 launch date.
Or Examine Out the Dialog Right here
My title is Keith Beavers, and that is the final episode of the season.
What’s occurring wine lovers? Welcome to Episode 32 of VinePair’s “Wine 101” podcast. My title is Keith Beavers. I’m the tastings director of VinePair. And wow, how are you? That is the final episode of Season 1. Wow. I feel it’s necessary that all of us have a pleasant well-rounded dialog about Tuscany. What goes on within the hills of Tuscany? What’s Tuscany all about? Is it simply Chianti? No, it’s greater than that. Let’s get into it.
I can’t thanks guys sufficient for the assist you’ve given this podcast. Thanks a lot. This has been superior. This being the final episode, I’m simply pondering again on all this and the way a lot enjoyable I’ve had. I beloved each episode. I really like doing these things. Thanks for all of the engagement on Instagram, all of your evaluations, your listenership. Thanks for being a part of the VinePair household and simply studying VinePair and being part of it, serving to you guys study.
I simply don’t ever wish to cease doing this, ever. And that’s cool as a result of there’s going to be a Season 2, however we don’t know the date but, however we’re engaged on it and man, it’s superior. We’re gonna construct off of what we did in Season 1. We’re going to speak, we’re going to dive deep into “terroir.” I imply, we’re gonna dive deep into the filth of that. We’re gonna speak about new areas, Chile. We’re gonna perform a little extra element on Argentina. We’re gonna speak about South Africa. We’re gonna speak about new grapes, like Moscato, like what’s Moscato? And we’ve had a number of listeners ask about ports so we’re speaking about port. After which I get to speak about this loopy factor known as phylloxera that I’ve been hinting at rather a lot all through Season 1. It’s a narrative. Prepare for that one.
OK. I wish to get to Tuscany, however I simply wish to allow you to guys know: Thanks. You’re the perfect. Let’s maintain this going. Proper? Cool. So let’s speak about Tuscany. Now the factor is within the subsequent season, one other factor we’re going to do is we’re going to do that actually deep dive into Chianti and the grape Sangiovese, so I’m not going to go deep into that.
That story is basically enjoyable. It’s going to be superior, however I’ll offer you an outline of Tuscany, as a result of you understand, we all know Chianti. We most likely know that phrase. We all know it’s a wine. It’s possible you’ll be accustomed to the time period “Tremendous Tuscan,” which is a wine that popped up within the ’70s and the ’80s. It grew to become all the craze on the American market.
It’s possible you’ll learn about Brunello di Montalcino, which is form of a Johnny-come-lately, noble wine area in Tuscany. However to grasp the entire area, simply to get a way of Tuscany is necessary, as a result of Tuscany, that is the place Italian tradition and language and artwork and all the things was shaped — particularly across the city of Florence. And due to that deep-rooted, embedded historical past, there’s extra documentation concerning the historical past of this place, this area, than a number of different areas in Italy, and the historic exercise between the city of Florence and the city of Sienna, south of that’s some actually enjoyable stuff. And in Season 2, we’re gonna speak rather a lot about that.
However I wish to offer you form of simply an outline of Tuscany, as a result of there are tons of Tuscan wines on our market, and it may be a little bit bit overwhelming as a result of it’s a type of areas that we simply have such a connection to. A very cool option to perceive Tuscany and wine is that what Tuscany actually is, is a celebration of 1 selection, and that selection’s potential to specific itself in several methods inside one area.
The Sangiovese grape, which once more, we’re going to get a little bit deeper into subsequent season, is grown principally all through the central a part of Italy and Tuscany takes up the vast majority of the central a part of Italy. And one factor about Sangiovese — I imply, each grape loves a hill. Am I proper? Each grape loves a very good hill with drainy soils and good solar publicity, however Sangiovese legit thrives on these hills. I imply, for those who have been to place Sangiovese in a lower-lying space, it’ll develop, nevertheless it won’t do what it does on hills. And it simply so occurs that Tuscany is 68 p.c formally hills. 68 p.c. One area.
Solely eight p.c of the area is flat. And I say that as a result of there’s some Sangiovese there, we’ll speak about that. However what occurs with Tuscany is it begins on the coast, in a spot that’s known as the Maremma, and it really works its method inland, and because the hills get increased and better and extra undulating and better and extra undulating, and it will get as much as like 18-2,000 ft above sea degree as you go inland from the coast. And that’s when issues get actually fascinating. You could have all completely different sorts of elevations, all completely different alternatives for good solar publicity, and a ton of various sorts of soils. There’s really well-known soils in these lands, however it’s all kinds of soils, and all these situations are good for Sangiovese.
And all the areas that we all know, and a few that we don’t know, just about all lie inside these hills. And it’s so distinctive as a result of the Sangiovese grape has completely different names relying on the place you’re in Tuscany. And people names are primarily based on the clonal choices that they’ve made through the years. But it surely’s additionally simply due to the expression the varieties give — they’re completely different expressions. And that’s simply an effective way to grasp Tuscany. Whenever you’re consuming wine from Tuscany, you’re consuming Sangiovese in several expressions.
Now, the factor is, there are locations in Tuscany that do this plant and make worldwide varieties. These are sometimes carried out in areas the place Sangiovese doesn’t actually thrive as a lot, however it could develop, however they’re utilizing different varieties to complement. They don’t wish to eliminate Sangiovese, it’s their grape, however in sure areas, it’s simply not as plentiful within the blends. However that’s a enjoyable half about Tuscan wine, particularly as a wine lover, is no matter wine you’re consuming from Tuscany, it’s most likely going to be an expression of the Sangiovese grape. I imply, generally it’s going to be a small quantity. It’s not all the time going to essentially be in there, however Sangiovese all the time has a presence on this space. In Chianti, the Sangiovese grape is shiny and fragrant, cranberries and cherries, and simply has a very good quantity of acidity as a result of it’s in these hills with these draining soils. And even when it’s a mix with Merlot or one thing else, it nonetheless retains that form of, rustic class. And the factor about it, that’s form of a normal assertion, as a result of inside Chianti itself, there’s all these completely different communes that categorical the grape in several methods inside that area and that sub-region itself.
Then for those who go south of the Chianti hills, you go right into a city known as a Montalcino, and this is likely one of the most arid, dry patches of Tuscany. And within the early to mid-19th century, a person by the title Ferruccio Biondi-Santi remoted a clone of Sangiovese from one in every of his vineyards. The technical title of the Sangiovese in his winery was known as “Sangiovese Grosso,” which implies it’s an enormous grape.
However the Sangiovese that Ferruccio remoted was not your typical Sangiovese grape. This can be a clone of Sangiovese that was actually acclimated to the dry, arid local weather of this space and made extra concentrated purple wines. His objective was to make a wine that will age longer than the wines of Chianti, let’s say.
Chianti ages about 10, 15 years. He needed to go longer. So he created this highly effective, big-structured wine from a Sangiovese grape that he known as Brunello. And that’s the place Brunello di Montalcino got here from. So the place Chianti is form of virtually elegant, rustic, Brunello di Montalcino is huge and structured and it wants time. Earlier than it’s even in the marketplace, it has to age for 4 years, together with two of these years in barrel and 4 months within the bottle earlier than it’s out onto the market.
And 5 years for the reserva, and you may’t mix something with this. This must be 100 p.c Brunello. If it’s anything, it’s against the law. Actually in 2008, there have been folks that have been caught mixing Syrah and Merlot into the Brunello di Montalcino they usually went to jail. It was a factor. It was known as “Brunello Gate.” Significantly.
South of Montalcino is a city known as Montepulciano, and in that township there’s a very well-known wine known as Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. And initially it was all Sangiovese, however right now you’ll be able to really put some Cab and Merlot and Syrah into the mix. But it surely’s form of going again, now increasingly persons are simply doing Sangiovese and one other native grape known as Canaiolo.
And the results of that old-school mix of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is that this actually superior dance between Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti. It has the intense class of a Chianti, nevertheless it nonetheless has the construction of Brunello di Montalcino. It’s actually superior.
And also you carry a little bit Canaiolo in there, it form of makes it good and earthy. There are Vino Nobile di Montelpuciano which have some Cabernet, some Merlot, and a few Sangiovese, and it’s extra of a modern-style wine, they usually’re actually scrumptious, however the old-school stuff is rising once more. And it’s actually superior. And these are simply examples of Sangiovese in these hills at completely different elevations, completely different soils expressing themselves in several methods. And what’s so cool is all these wines can be found on the American market, and there’s a ton of Italian wine on the American market. You possibly can actually discover these things fairly simply.
And as we begin heading west out of the hills in the direction of the flatlands, in the direction of the coast, the hills get a little bit bit decrease, then we get into simply flat lands. And as you head west in the direction of the coast, there’s one other well-known wine area you’re going to acknowledge on the American market known as Morellino di Scansano, and right here, they really name Sangiovese “Morellino di Scansano,” which is sensible proper?
And due to the lower-lying hills and since it’s getting nearer to the coast, the place you get a little bit extra solar, it’s a little bit bit hotter and the wines are form of full-bodied. They’re not on the extent of Brunello di Montalcino, however they’ve a pleasant fullness to them. They solely need to be 85 p.c Sangiovese they usually can put different stuff in there, like Cab or Syrah or Merlot. However they’re actually superior wines, for those who get an opportunity. And they’re very inexpensive, too. You will get a Morellino di Scansano for like 15, 20 bucks.
And simply earlier than we hit the coast is a new-ish wine area known as Monte Cucco. And we’re seeing a few of it on the American market. They’re form of full-bodied Sangioveses, and it truly is so new. It has a number of potential, nevertheless it hasn’t actually been outlined but, however we’ll see it being outlined over the following 10 or 15 years or so.
After which we get to the coast, and that is what’s actually fascinating about Tuscany. In these lower-lying areas, Sangiovese grows, it’s fantastic, however Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cab Franc, all these Bordeaux varieties do higher on this space than Sangiovese. And that is the realm the place, again within the 1960s, and all the best way again to 1940s, folks have been making wine not from Sangiovese however from Cabernet Sauvignon. And this space known as the Maremma, which is a reference to “mare” as in “the ocean,” and it, itself, is a wine area, and it’s large.
However within the Maremma, in a city known as Bolgheri within the 1940s, a person with a reasonably lengthy title, Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, planted Cabernet Sauvignon for actually a home wine within the 1940s on his San Guido property. And he labeled that wine Sassicaia, and this grew to become one of many first “Tremendous Tuscans” that we’ll speak about in Season 2, however grew to become a very huge pattern on this space. By the 1970s, there have been different winemakers doing the identical factor that he was doing, and the “Tremendous Tuscan” factor form of blew up, as a result of on this space of Tuscany, Sangiovese isn’t as distinguished as Bordeaux varieties. And truly Bolgheri was solely actually identified for white wine and rosés as a result of it’s on the coast, however then this factor occurs.
You’re additionally going to see wines from Maremma. It’s there, it’s changing into extremely popular on the American market. And the Maremma is a really giant, loosely drawn appellation that covers virtually the complete shoreline of Tuscany. It’s an enormous catch-all wine appellation, and also you’re going to see wines from the Maremma on the American market. They’re changing into very distinguished.
However you title it. It’s all types of blends. It’s all types of reds. Merlot is there, Sangiovese is there, Petit Verdot, Carignan, Syrahs, all the things. So the purple mix phenomenon we have now right here in the USA, the Maremma form of feeds into that love for purple blends. Huge, full-bodied, extra fashionable in model.
And that’s not all the things, however that offers you a way. I hope that it helps you perceive Tuscany a little bit bit extra as a result of it actually simply is completely different expressions of Sangiovese, and the Sangiovese grape has completely different names relying on the place it’s grown simply due to historical past and since it’s onerous to determine it by itself. Tuscan winemakers in these completely different areas need you to know that this isn’t only a Sangiovese, this can be a Brunello di Montalcino. And despite the fact that it’s Sangiovese, that is our expression of this grape.
Now the factor about Tuscany is it’s not all purple wine. It’s not all Sangiovese on a regular basis. There’s white wine in Tuscany, it’s simply not as distinguished. There’s a grape known as Vermentino that has grown all through Tuscany and it doesn’t actually have an appellation. I feel Monte Cucco has Vermentino in its appellation, nevertheless it’s not a distinguished grape in Tuscany. However what’s, is a grape known as Vernaccia. Now Vernaccia is usually grown across the city of San Gimignano.
And there may be an appellation there known as the Vernaccia di San Gimignano. And what’s fascinating about that’s that white wine area is that the primary DOC awarded to Tuscany was a white wine-growing area. I imply, you’ll assume that Chianti could be the primary, however no, it was a white, it was Vernaccia. Vernaccia di San Gimignano is a ravishing white wine. And it’s simply not as in style, simply due to the recognition of Sangiovese. I imply you’ll be able to’t mess with its prominence on this area.
However that’s form of a dialog concerning the overview of the wine of Tuscany, which principally revolves round Sangiovese, and within the second season, we’re going to get right into a bunch of different stuff. We’re going to speak about Brunello di Montalcino. We’re gonna speak about Chianti. And in doing that, we’re going to get a greater sense of the historical past of Tuscany, the wine legal guidelines, the drama, and all that stuff.
Numerous these things you most likely want I used to be speaking about proper now could be going to occur within the subsequent season with a little bit extra element. It’s gonna be a little bit extra enjoyable as a result of we’re going to have the ability to actually dive into the subtleties of those superior Italian wine areas.
And that’s it. That’s Season 1 within the books. Wine 101. Guys, I can not watch for Season 2. Observe me on Instagram @VinePairKeith within the meantime. I’ll announce the date, however I’ll see you quickly.
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Now, for some credit. How about that? Wine 101 is recorded and produced by yours actually, Keith Beavers, on the VinePair headquarters in New York Metropolis. I wish to give an enormous shout-out to co-founders Adam Teeter and Josh Malin. I additionally wish to thank Danielle Grinberg for making probably the most legit Wine 101 emblem. And I acquired to thank Darby Cicci for making this superb track: Take heed to this epic stuff. And eventually, I wish to thank the VinePair workers for serving to me study extra every single day. Thanks for listening. I’ll see you subsequent week.
Ed. observe: This episode has been edited for size and readability.