Toscana, better known as Tuscany throughout much of the world, is perhaps best known in the wine community as being the region where perhaps the greatest Italian red wine of all time is produced. The region plays host to the majority of the production areas of Chianti, which moviegoers will remember is a particular favourite of Hannibal Lector but is also considered to be one of the absolute best wines produced anywhere in the world.
However the region itself is known for so much than the amazing wines that it produces. Playing host to the city of Florence, which at one point in time was regarded as one of the premier cities in the world when it came to commerce and banking, the region hosts a population somewhere in the region of 3.8 million. This puts it somewhere in the mid-point range of the 20 regions that make up the country of Italy as it regards to distribution of the population.
The area is also known as one of the most visually stunning in all of Italy, featuring landscape that are capable of truly taking the viewer’s breath away. The hilly countryside features masses of vineyards that are sure to get the blood pulsing for any wine lover and its coastline also ensures that the region truly has a little something for everyone who enjoys a little natural beauty.
Tuscany also has a rich heritage when it comes to the history of the region. It has played host to various civilisations since around 1,300 B.C. which in turn has allowed the region to develop something of a unique culture and style all of its own. Examples of this rich history can be seen in many areas of the city, though the area obviously takes a predominantly cultural bent as a result of the rich artistic heritage that the area gave birth to. All of this has contributed towards making its capital city of Florence one of the top 100 most visited cities in the world.
Speaking of artistry, the city of Florence is also regarded in most circles as the birthplace of the Renaissance period. With the expansion of Florence into other areas of Tuscany throughout the 15th century the region became increasingly powerful and more readily recognised within early Italian politics.
The period gave rise to the famed Medici family, who dominated politics in the region for many years. The likes of Piero, Lorenzo and Cosimo oversaw the continued increase of power for the region despite the fact that they rarely, if ever, held any actual titles when it came to political power. Regardless their rule saw the rise saw the conception of the Renaissance movement, which produced some of history’s greatest works of art in addition to giving us some of the most truly spectacular people to ever grace the planet.
Through all of this the region also played host to a rich heritage when it came to wine making. As mentioned the famed Italian red wine Chianti has been the calling card of Toscana for centuries, however as with all things progress marches on and in more recent times the reputation of Chianti has been challenged by what has come to be known as the ‘Super Tuscan’ movement. Chief amongst those wines is the spectacular Tignanello, which has garnered fame throughout Italy as a result of its high quality and its maker’s refusal to bow down to pressure from the DOC.
The Antinori family can trace their heritage almost as far back as the creation of the Tuscan region itself. They have been an indelible part of the region’s makeup since the 14th century and the family has been present during some of the most prosperous and most turbulent times that the region has experienced over the years.
During all of that time that have built a stellar reputation for the creation of fine Italian red wines and were known as one of the principal manufacturers of what has come to be known as Chianti Classico in the modern era.
Why the Classico distinction you may ask? Well in the 1970s the Antinori family, particularly its younger members, decided that the time was ripe to shake things up a little bit when it came to the production of Chianti in the region. Tired of the restrictions placed on them by the DOC in regards to the proper way in which to make a bottle of Chianti, a number of members of the family broke tradition and started creating a new blend that was marketed as a type of Chianti but actually used a blend of grapes that was not allowed as per the DOC regulations. The group also modernised many of their production techniques and placed an emphasis on the quality of their wine over the nature of its production.
The resulting drink was named Tignanello and it sparked something of a revolution in the winemaking industry. Purists and those who thought that the wine was attempting to completely supplant the traditional Chianti that the region was known for were up in arms about the new drink and the DOC itself initially refused to give it any form of classification due to the rebellious nature in which it had been created.
The quality of the wine could not be ignored however and it soon became one of the most popular wines in the country. This sparked the Super Tuscan movement in which other manufacturers in the region decided to go their own way when it came to their production methods. The result was so spectacular that the DOC was forced to change the way it classified Chianti so as to allow the wine’s inclusion into their guidelines. Today connoisseurs are offered the distinction between Chianti Classico, which follows the more traditional methods of making the wine, and the Super Tuscans that have become so popular amongst many drinkers. It was an act of rebellion that could have damaged the Antinori name, but the enormous success of the resulting wine has simply further established the family as one of the most important in the region.