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Fred Tasker, wine columnist for Miami Herald, Sacramento Bee and many more newspapers through the country, recommended both Sor Ugo and Lagone in his column on wines from Tuscany

Tuscany’s red wines provide a bounty of flavor

Americans have a love affair with Tuscany, the beautiful Italian region of hearty wines and gourmet dining, of grass-covered meadows, castle-studded hilltops and cypress trees on the Mediterranean Sea.

 

Long rows of sangiovese grapevines snake around ancient wineries modernized to cutting-edge methods. White Tuscan Chianina cattle graze, awaiting their fate as bistecca fiorentina, quick-charred and drizzled with balsamic vinegar, in local ristorantes.

 

Our infatuation with Tuscany began with GIs returning from World War II with memories of good food, good wine and friendly people. It was rekindled by the idyllic 2003 film “Under the Tuscan Sun.” So many Americans moved to Tuscany that a 20-something taxi driver in Florence once complained to me: “I wish so many wouldn’t come. They make home prices too expensive for Italian young people.”

 

Tuscany is a region of 8,900 square miles. Within Tuscany, the Chianti region is a smaller area of almost 300 square miles between Florence and Siena. The Chianti Classico area is an even smaller area of about 100 square miles inside Chianti and Tuscany. Conditions there are said to be optimum for making Italy’s famous Chianti wine.

 

Chianti usually centers on the sangiovese grape, with lesser amounts of canaiolo, ciliegiolo, colorino and other reds.

Tuscany’s other important wine is the “Super Tuscan.” In the 1970s, iconoclastic growers decided to part ways with the traditional sangiovese grape and turn to French varietals such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, even syrah. The result was big, powerful wines that are some of Italy’s most expensive.

 

Here is some of Tuscany’s bounty:

  • 2011 “Lagone” Toscana IGT Aia Vecchia “Super Tuscan” Red Blend (merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc): dark red, hint of oak, flavors of black cherries and cinnamon; $15
  • 2010 “Sor Ugo” Bolgheri Superiore DOCG Aia Vecchia “Super Tuscan” Red Blend (cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot): dark red, aromas and flavors of black plums and bittersweet chocolate, full body, big, ripe tannins, long, smooth finish; $35.

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2014