When Chianti was suffering a decline in the 1970s, the Antinori family, one of the historic Tuscan wine dynasties, launched a real challenge to the vine that dominated local wine production and ruled the hills between Florence and Siena: the Sangiovese. Antinori looked at Carmignano, in which Sangiovese is combined with Cabernet Sauvignon, and used it as a model for their Tignanello. This was followed a few years later by Solaia, which reversed the percentage content of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Every Chianti Classico estate soon seemed to be producing their own Super Tuscan, as the international critics dubbed it, first defiantly marketed as a table wine, and later labelled as “Toscana I.G.T.” It was one of the most important innovations in Italian wine production in recent decades, but also carried the risk that Chianti would gradually lose its essential character.
Eventually, the impetus that produced the Super Tuscans also led Chianti Classico to become an independent denomination in 1996 (until then it had just been a sub-zone of the broader Chianti region). The production requirements became much more stringent, reverting to the traditional recipe based predominantly on Sangiovese, and banishing white-grape varieties from the mix.
This move revived the fortunes of the region, returning it to the centre of the Italian and global production scene. The Clemente VII line of Castelli di Grevepesa includes ‘Settimo‘, labelled as a Rosso di Toscana I.G.T. It may sound a bit of a stretch to describe this as a Super Tuscan, but the combination of Sangiovese, Merlot and Syrah makes it worthy of the name.