Super Blends

One group of internationally famous wines — the Super Tuscans — has come to represent revolutionary change in the wine world in the last few decades. After long-held traditional principles and practices controlled European winemaking for decades (or centuries), some Italian winemakers in the Tuscany region deliberately broke from tradition and began making new blends. Their revolution was not only successful as a commercial enterprise, it brought about changes in European laws to accommodate the new directions. What were the winemakers trying to do, and why? What can we, as home winemakers, learn from their experience? One wine associated with Tuscany for many years has been Chianti. In particular, the Chianti Classico sub-region was renowned for excellent Sangiovese-based wines. Tradition in the region had long guided the blending and proportions of various grape varieties, with Sangiovese always dominant. Wines made from Sangiovese grapes are often bright with acidity, have prominent cherry notes, and medium level tannins. In the 1960s, the Italian government codified long winemaking traditions into the DOC system: Denominazione di Origine Controllata. The system was intended to assure