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In the heart of Italy, Tuscany is in many ways the face of the Italian contribution to wine. The serene and picturesque countryside is well known in popular culture. The two towns of Florence and Siena offer a rich cultural backdrop for a wine history older than that of France. As early as the 13th century there are records of a wine merchant’s guild. Tuscany's most planted grape varietals today include Sangiovese, Trebbiano, Cannaiolo, Malvasia, Vernaccia and Vermintino. There are nine DOCG classified wines in Tuscany. While Tuscany does not produce the majority of wine in Italy, it produces the third largest volume of quality wine under the DOC classification system. Two particular regions in Tuscany are both famous for the same grape variety: Sangiovese. Red wine from Chianti was known for over a century as a rustic, but cheap table wine. That part has changed dramatically in the past 30 years. While Florentine merchants successfully branded Chianti with its cheap bulbous bottle and straw fiasco covering, more attention and skill is being applied today leading some upscale producers to embrace the Chianti designation. As a result, Chianti offers some of the most exceptional value for quality in Italy. In stark opposition is the Montalcino appellation. The Sangiovese Grosso clone known as Brunello was discovered in the 19th century. Brunello di Montalcino has risen over the years to be second only to Barolo in international renown, indeed Italy vigorously investigates and prosecutes those who fraudulently blend other grapes. In Bolgheri, the 'Super Tuscan' movement eschewed the official appellation system in the 1950's and produced Bordeaux varietals with great international success that likely helped put Tuscany on the map, ironically helping the reputation of traditional local wines too. Tuscany is also well known for Vin Santo, a sweet 'holy wine' made from local white grapes, aged in barrel.


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