Umbria has numerous curiosities among its vines and wines, though few of the local rarities ever leave the region. Vin Santo, pressed from semidried Grechetto or Malvasia grapes, is usually sweet and most prized by Umbrians as a wine for any occasion. C
Tuscany (Toscana) F lorence’s region continues to advance its position as the nation’s most dynamic producer of premium wines, following decades of turning out popular Chianti in straw-covered flasks. Tuscany’s modern renais- sance in wine began in Chianti, in the central hills around Siena and Florence, but it rapidly spread to take in the strip along the Mediterranean coast that was not previously noted for vineyards. Much of the progress has come with classical reds based on the native Sangiovese vine–Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Carmignano–all DOCG. But growing success with other reds (especially the stylish non-DOC wines known as "Super Tuscans") has been augmented by new styles of whites to enhance the region’s reputation. Chianti, still the dominant force in Tuscan viniculture, has long rated as the most Italian of wines. This is partly because it is the most voluminous and widely sold classified wine, but also because it has a personality that cannot be pinned down. Its multifarious nature is quintessentially Italian. Chianti is produced in eight distinct zones and adjacent areas that cover a vast territory of central Tuscany around the original core of Chianti Classico. In those gorgeously rugged hills variations in soil and climate contribute as much to the individuality of each authentic estate wine as do winemakers’ quests for creative styles. Some Chianti is still fairly fresh, easy and quaffable, though a growing portion is rich and elaborate and capable of becoming aristocratic with age. Those variables can be confusing, but for consumers who persist, Chianti offers some of the best value in wine today. Much Chianti is identified by its subdistricts, most prominently Classico, whose producers’ consortium is symbolized by a black rooster. Many estates also emphasize the name of a special vineyard as a mark of distinction. What Chianti has in common with all of the traditional red wines of Tuscany is its major grape variety Sangiovese. In the past varieties were often blended, but today the emphasis is strongly on Sangiovese or Sangioveto, which deserves to be ranked with Italy’s and the world’s noblest vines. From good vintages, pure Sangiovese wines are rich in body and intricate in flavor with deep ruby-garnet colors. Some are smooth and round almost from the start, but others need years to develop the nuances of bouquet and flavor unique to well-aged Tuscan reds. Tuscany’s appellation of greatest stature is Brunello di Montalcino, a DOCG from a fortress town south of Siena Florence (Firenze) is the administrative center of Tuscany, whose provinces include Arezzo, Grosseto, Livorno, Lucca, Massa- Carrara, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena. The region ranks 5th in size
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- Summer '16
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