A taste of Tuscany’s vinous bounty

Every year around mid-February, journalists from around the world are invited to Tuscany to preview the latest releases of wines, the majority red. This year found me in the iconic wine region from Feb. 14 to 21. As one of the most renowned wine regions on the planet, the wines are fabulous and, needless to say, there were many to be sampled. There were far too many wines to talk specifics, so I’ll focus generally on the most recent vintages.

Let’s start with perhaps the most touted of all Tuscan reds, Brunello di Montalcino. Front and centre this year was the 2010 vintage. If you’re looking for big, bold, ripe Brunello with great fruit structure and aging potential, this vintage will definitely not disappoint. The wines are packed with juicy, sweet dark cherry, leather, tar, licorice and chocolate and they have a very firm, solid backbone. The vintage is rated five out of five stars by the consortium, but if I could give it a higher rating I would. Yes, the wines are that good. Well worth stocking up on, and will provide decades of wonderful sipping!

Next up is Chianti. Throughout the seven sub-regions, the 2013 vintage showed great promise. This was especially noted in the Chianti Classico denomination, where the wines are nicely balanced with round aromatics and flavours. Essences of cedar, cherry pit, chocolate and leather are highlights of this vintage and should carry them well into maturity.

The small Vino Nobile de Montepulciano denomination showcased mostly the 2012 vintage and it was a good one. The wines are austere with lots of intense flavours of dried fruits, leather and spice. These are wines that should age reasonably well and are definitely worth stashing in the cellar for future reference.

I spent some time in San Gimignano tasting their famous white Vernaccia, grown around the outskirts of the medieval walled town. Both the 2013 and 2014 vintages were available. The 2013 featured lots of minerality, with floral, fruit, honey and stone notes. The 2014 vintage was not quite as structured as the 2013, but still soft, fresh and crisp. I found those with a little Chardonnay included and some delicate oak treatment particularly interesting.

As 11 other territories and sub-regions of Tuscany presented their wines for tasting, there were definitely some pleasant surprises. I was particularly impressed with the reds from Bolgheri DOC and the Maremma DOC.

As mentioned earlier, it’s impossible to go into detail about specific wines – there’s simply not enough space here. Hopefully though, this overall impression of the regions and their latest vintage releases will be useful for you. Let’s face it … you can’t go too far wrong by purchasing, aging, and sipping Tuscan wines. Quite simply put, they are world-class and the quality of the most recent releases reinforces this grand reputation. Stock up, my friends, and enjoy.


Edward Finstein is a wine writer, award-winning author, TV and radio host, educator, judge

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