First of all What does Super Tuscan mean?
Super Tuscans are wines born from a modern and innovative idea of wine making.
The name "Super Tuscan" was coined in the early 1980's in order to generically describe a red wine produced in Tuscany, but there is more,
In a broader meaning, we tend to consider as Super Tuscan all the wines produced in Tuscany that do not fall within the production disciplinary of their area of belonging.
These are wines that do not meet then the guidelines of DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) or DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) and they are totally "unregulated"!
They are produced using the traditional Sangiovese and red grapes not native or typical of Italy, such as the international varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.
However whenthe first Super Tuscans was born?
A Super Tuscan ante litteram, could be considered the one created
Around 1940, Marquis Mario Incisa della Rocchetta
a passionate wine maker and nobile from Italy wanted to create a new super high quality idea of wine making.
After having noticed geographical and climatic similarities between the area of Maremma Toscana and the one of Graves (Bordeaux), he imported some clones of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc; these grapes were planted in Tenuta San Guido and after a careful and attentive cultivation, in 1944 were ready the first bottles of Sassicaia.
At the beginning the wine was exclusively produced for family consumption, whereas the first harvest to be commercialized arrived only in 1968.
You can understand how much times it takes for a wine to be developed!
Anyway the first real Super Tuscan could be consider Antinori's Tignanello.
Marquis Piero Antinori which was the cousin of Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, whose family had been producing wine for more than 600 years, decided to go further and changed the vinification process of his Chianti, adding to Sangiovese (typical local grape and the most emblematic Italian grape) a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Thus was born Tignanello, which can be considered the first real Supertuscan with Italy in its pedigree, as Sassicaia was a blend of French grapes only.
The definitive affermation of the Supertuscan took place when the famous American critic Robert Parker, in a blind tasting, gave 100/100 points to Sassicaia of 1985!
These great wines, as they used grapes not allowed by the disciplinary, could not be classified as DOC nor as DOCG.
In the beginning, they were simply labeled as "table wine", a definition typically reserved to the lowest quality wines in the pyramid of the classification of Italian wines.
It was therefore created a paradoxical situation in which in the same classification "Vino da Tavola" could be found very simple wines, sometimes approximate! and great wines that could be the envy of the most famous French Château.
In order to avoid this possible misunderstanding, international critics, enthusiastic about these new wines, began to call them Super Tuscan, just to distinguish them from other red wines of lower quality which had the label "table wine".
The term has become synonymous of daring, adventurous and innovative viticulture, with producers experimenting new blends and new cultivation methods. At the same time it has become synonymous of a style of wines which go beyond tradition and are appreciated also at an international level.
A home for Super Tuscans with the birth of Typical Geographical Indications (IGT)
In order to solve these new paradoxes of Italian enology, it was introduced the classification IGT - Indicazione Geografica Tipica (Typical Geographical Indication) - which indicates a wine of a specific region.
Anyway in the Category IGT wines you can really find a lots of different types of wines- from high end wines to cheaper quality wines.
So you need also to consider the producer when it comes about the choice of the wines!
The key for this it is to inform yourself!
Going back to Supertuscan, anyway it is not just about mixing and blending Sangiovese with international variety cultivated in tuscany. It is also about find the right balance of expression of the territory where the above mention Supertuscan is produced