Super Tuscan is a term that was created in the 1970s for a group of wines from Tuscany that contained international varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc.
To achieve the highest quality designation for the region at the time, the rules dictated that wines must include only grapes native to the area-–predominantly Sangiovese and Canaiolo--and must include some portion of white wine. Wines that did not follow these rules were given the lowest level designation of “table wine”.
As winemakers started to break the rules and use more international varietals, they got the attention of some influential people in the American wine trade who immediately fell in love with these wines. The term “super Tuscan” was created for these wines to reflect their high quality and avoid the stigma of being called “table wine."
The most noted early examples of super Tuscan wine are Tignanello and Sassicaia, which were made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Modern super Tuscans may contain any combination of Sangiovese and international varietals; they can contain 100% Sangiovese or none at all. The Cacciata Toscana is a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon with flavors of dark cherry, blackberry, violet, chocolate, and cinnamon.
As super Tuscan wine gained international popularity, the rules were eventually changed. These wines now fall under the designation of Indicazione Geografica Tipica (Typical Geographical Indication) or IGT, which is a higher designation than “table wine." Additionally, the coastal town of Bolgheri, which was the birthplace of Sassicaia, is now an approved DOC area. The Castello di Bolgheri Varvara is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot with black currant, tobacco, leather, cedar and baking spice flavors.