Tuscany is located in the northern part of central Italy, south of the regions of Liguria and Emilia Romagna and north of Lazio. Umbria lies on its eastern border while to the west Tuscany stretches for 400 kilometres along the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. The climate is mild along the coast and colder, with significant temperature variations, in the central hills.
This wonderful region is predominantly mountainous. The Apennines which cross the region from the northeast form Tuscany's geographical backbone and it is the foothills of this range that provide the sites for the major viticultural areas of the region. Chianti is without doubt the most famous of these, but over the last twenty five years others such as Montalcino, Montepulciano, Scansano and Bolgheri - to mention only a few - have emerged to offer diversity and new interest. Tuscany has 60,000 hectares of specialised vineyards, and an average production of 3 million hectolitres of wine a year. The most planted white varieties in the region are Trebbiano and Malvasia, which are responsible for the wines of Elba and DOCs such as - amongst others - Pitigliano and Valdichiara. Vermentino is a variety of some interest which is grown mainly on the coast.
The most important white wine is Vernaccia di San Gimignano, the first Italian white to gain DOC status back in 1966. Tuscany however is fundamentally a red wine region. The most important grape is Sangiovese, which at Montalcino is known as Sangiovese Grosso and at Montepulciano as Prugnolo Gentile.
Other local red varieties like Cannaiolo have a lower profile today than Cabernet and Merlot, which in recent decades have begun to assume major importance both in blends and as monovarietals. Chianti, Brunello and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which are amongst the finest red wines made in Italy today, are Tuscan classics. Denominations like Morellino di Scansano and Carmignano are gaining in importance. The great development of recent years however has been the international success of what has become known as Super Tuscan wines. The one wine that stands out in this increasingly numerous category is that which in the 1940s first succeeded in wedding the genial versatility of Cabernet Sauvignon to the stony and sandy soils of Bolgheri. The wine is called Sassicaia and its producers are the Incisa della Rocchetta family.