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Toscana Rosso – the ‘little brothers’ of Tuscany

DWWA Regional co-Chair for Italy Richard Baudains looks at Toscana Rosso, the 'little brothers' of the famous names of Tuscany...

Tuscany has codified the concept of the ‘little brother’ wine by building the sub-denomination ‘Rosso’ into the production norms of three of its most important DOC/DOCGs.

Brunello has its Rosso di Montalcino; Vino Nobile its Rosso di Montepulciano; and Bolgheri Rosso Superiore, the top denomination of the great estates of the Tuscan coastal region, has Bolgheri Rosso.

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Richard’s Toscana Rosso picks:

For producers, Toscana Rosso wines offer a safety valve that helps maintain the standards of the top estate wines; it also generates cash flow. For wine drinkers, it is a source of wines from great terroirs that do not need laying down, and which typically cost a quarter of the price of their ‘big brothers’.

Wood ageing is an option, but not an obligation, and many producers go down the road of juicy, vat-fermented wines that focus on varietal characters.

The styles

Rosso di Montalcino maintains the all-Sangiovese cépage of Brunello, which in cool vintages can make the Rosso a little hard and lean. In ripe vintages, though, it delivers thoroughbred Tuscany comparable to the level of top Chianti Classico, but with that extra Montalcino grip.

Rosso di Montepulciano is the lightest and freshest of the trio, displaying the classic violet and plum aromas of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, in some cases fleshed out by a dab of Merlot.

Bolgheri Rosso has the round, soft quality and silky tannins of Cabernet Sauvignon from the coast.

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