Sunday, September 21, 2008


I recently had the opportunity to sit in on a few seminars in Louisville for Republic/National’s tradeshow last week. One of which was “Taste of Tuscany” with wine writer Robin Garr.

Robin Garr is the creator of the oldest and most well-known wine-blogger website, We wine buyers visit his site regularly for research and shelf talkers. Robin’s site is great for all wine lovers from novice to know-it-all. He touches an array of topics such as how to taste wine to tasting notes for obscure wines.

Robin’s major topic of discussion during the seminar was the concept of super Tuscans. For those of you who are new to this concept, it was a new idea that globalized in the 80’s to make Italian wines more palatable for Americans while also attempting to acquire higher Parker scores. To do this, rebellious Italian wine makers decided to disregard the DOCG system by adding French/American varietals to the traditional Italian recipe. Some of these wines are even aged in expensive French oak barrels and a high dollar price tag was placed on them. Of course, this pissed off the regulators as they tried to label these “super Tuscan” wines as Vin de Table, which basically means cheap/everyday drinking wine. The rebels won and instead, these wines are commonly labeled as IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica di Toscana). Sounds a bit more sophisticated, eh?

So what’s the controversy? Some may argue that if you do not like acidic, food-friendly, barnyard wines of Italy, stay the hell out of the Italian section. Robert Parker has also trained us Americans to like big, fruit bomb wines. The bigger the fruit bomb, the higher the score. “I only got dried cherries out of this wine, but it’s as big as a house! Let’s give it a 90!” On the flip side, some of us would like to experience the terrior of Italy in an easy drink’ fruity wine. Still, an experienced wine drinker should still be able to recognize that a particular wine is from Italy even if it is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sangiovese.

I’m going to be annoying by saying I enjoy both ends of the spectrum. I appreciate the power Italian wine has over food and visa versa. There’s nothing like pairing a good Barbera d’ Alba with a light meaty dish (you know, the kind of dish your not sure whether to pair a red or white with). I also enjoy a super Tuscan like Fonterutoli Badiolo 2006 ($15.97) on it’s own on a cool night. It’s got that funky Italian taste with some big black fruit. MMMmmmmmm. However, I did get a chance to try the wine that started the super Tuscan craze in 1968; Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia. I loved it but my love was deeper for the good old Tenute Caparzo Brunello di Montalcino 2003.

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