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Learn About American Wines
In the United States wine is produced commercially in all fifty states with the majority of the wine produced in California. California by itself produces enough wine to be the fourth largest producer of wine in the world. Major wine production also occurs in New York state (5%), Washington state (4%), and Oregon (0.6%).
The History of American Wine
The first Europeans to explore North America called it Vinland because of the profusion of grape vines they found. However, settlers would later discover that the wine made from the various native grapes had flavors which were unfamiliar and which they did not like. This led to repeated efforts to grow familiar Vitis vinifera varieties. The first vines of Vitis vinifera origin planted in what is now the United States were planted in Senecu in 1629, which is near the present day town of San Antonio, New Mexico.
However, the discovery in 1802 of the native Catawba grape led to very successful wine-making in Ohio. By 1842 Nicholas Longworth was growing 1,200 acres (almost two square miles) of Catawba grapes and making the country’s first Sparkling wine. In 1858, The Illustrated London News described Catawba as “a finer wine of the hock species and flavour than any hock that comes from the Rhine” and wrote that sparkling Catawba “transcends the Champagne of France.” But the successful operations in Ohio ceased when fungus disease destroyed the vineyards. Some growers responded by moving north to the shores of Lake Erie and its islands, where mildew was not a problem.
The Finger Lakes region of New York State developed a successful wine-making industry beginning in the early 1860s when the Pleasant Valley Wine Company began using carefully-selected derivatives of native grapes to produce wine. In 1865 the Urbana Wine Company (which marketed its wine under the Gold Seal label) was established. 1880 saw the establishment of the Taylor Wine Company. By the late 1800s, wines from the Finger Lakes were winning prizes at wine tastings in Europe.
In California, the first vineyard and winery was established by Spanish missionaries in 1769. California has two native grape varieties, but they make very poor quality wine. Therefore, the missionaries used the Mission grape, which is called Criolla or “colonialized European” in South America. Although a Vitis vinifera, it is a grape of “very modest” quality.
The first secular vineyard was established in Los Angeles by an immigrant from Bordeaux, Jean-Louis Vignes. Dissatisfied with the Mission grape, he imported vines from France. By 1851 he had 40,000 vines under cultivation and was producing 1,000 barrels of wine per year.
Major wine production shifted to the Sonoma Valley in northern California largely because of its excellent climate for growing grapes. General Mariano Vallejo, former commander of the presidio of Sonoma, became the first large-scale winegrower in the valley. In 1857, Agoston Haraszthy bought 560 acres near Vallejo’s vineyards. In contrast to Vallejo and most others, Haraszthy planted his vines on dry slopes and did not irrigate them. Today, the value of dry farming to creating superior wine is generally recognized.
Haraszthy has been called the “Father of Modern Viticulture in California.” He wrote Report on Grapes and Wines in California, a manual on vineyard management and wine making procedures in which he urged experimentation with different grape varieties in different soils and different parts of the state. He also urged the government to collect cuttings from Europe and distribute them to growers in California. In 1861, the State Legislature commissioned Haraszthy to travel to Europe and purchase a diversity of grapevines. He did so, and obtained 100,000 vines of 300 different varieties.
In 1857, Charles LeFranc established what became the very successful Almaden Vineyards, where he planted Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Semillon, and many others. LeFranc produced good wine as did his son-in-law, Paul Masson. In 1861 Charles Krug founded his namesake winery and began making wine, founding the first winery in the Napa Valley. Originally a Prussian political dissident, Krug learned the trade of the vintner as an apprentice to Haraszthy in the Sonoma Valley. Krug expanded on what he learned from Haraszthy and began a winemaking tradition in the Napa Valley. The land on which Krug founded his winery was part of his wife’s (Carolina Bale’s) dowry. Krug became an important leader of winemaking in the Napa Valley. He was also a mentor for Karl Wente, Charles Wetmore and Jacob Beringer, all of whom became important vintners.
Early on, the Napa Valley demonstrated leadership in producing quality wine. At the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889, Napa Valley wines won 20 of the 34 medals or awards (including four gold medals) won by California entries. This was the high point that was followed by 40 years of natural and human-caused disasters. Severe frosts, the outbreak of the phylloxera louse which destroyed Vitis vinifera vines, an economic depression, the San Francisco earthquake that destroyed an estimated 30 million gallons of wine in storage, and the disaster of national Prohibition from 1920 through 1933.
Some wineries managed to survive by making wine for religious services. However, grape growers prospered. Because making up to 200 gallons of wine at home per year was legal, such production increased from an estimated four million gallons before Prohibition to 90 million five years after the imposition of the law. Unfortunately, quality grapes do not ship well, so producers ripped out their vines and replaced them with tough but poor quality grapes such as Alicante Bouschet and Alicante Ganzin.
Following Prohibition, American wine making reemerged in very poor condition. Many talented winemakers had died, vineyards had been neglected or replanted in poor quality grapes, and Prohibition had changed Americans’ taste in wines. Consumers now demanded cheap “jug wine” (so-called dago red) and sweet, fortified (high alcohol) wine. Before Prohibition dry table wines outsold sweet wines by three to one, but after the ratio was more than reversed. In 1935, 81% of California’s production was sweet wines. The reputation of the state’s wines suffered accordingly.
During the 1970s a system was established to identify appellations of origins, using the term American Viticultural Areas (AVA). An AVA guarantees that a minimum of 85% of the wine in the bottle comes from grapes grown in that AVA. The use of individual vineyard names guarantees that 95% of any wine using a vineyard name must be made from grapes grown in that vineyard, and from within a recognized AVA. There are 165 AVAs, of which 93 are in California.
Leading the way out of the abyss was research conducted at the University of California, Davis. Faculty published reports on which varieties of grapes grew best in which regions of the state, held seminars on winemaking techniques, consulted with grape growers and winemakers, offered academic degrees in viticulture, and promoted the production of quality wines. The results of their success would be demonstrated decades later at the Paris wine tasting in 1976, the nation’s 200th anniversary.
Learn About Wine from Spain
Spain is the third largest producer of wine in the world, the largest being France and the second Italy. Historically, Spain has been known from the production of fortified wines and the best known Spanish wine is considered by some to be the fortified wine Sherry, which is produced in the region surrounding Jerez de la Frontera. Other wine regions well known outside of Spain include: Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Priorato, Cava and Penedès.
In Rioja, the law permits the use of four red grape varieties. Tempranillo is the primary grape used, followed by Garnacha (also known as Grenache), Graciano and Mazuelo. The latter two are excellent but difficult to grow varieties. Crianza wines are those that have been aged for two years, Reservas are aged three years, and Gran Reservas (also known as Reserva Especial) are aged at least five years.
Ribera del Duero lacks the long history of Rioja and was recognized as an official wine region in 1982. Priorato is a region with low yields and produces wines of rich intensity. Notable pioneer Rene Barbier is credited by some with bringing fame to this region. Penedes produces both red and white wines, but is mainly known for being the region that Cava was first made by the Reventos family who own and operate Codorniu . The largest Spanish wine brand name, Torres, is a major producer there.
History of Wine in Spain
It has been said that the grapevines spread through the mediterranean thanks to the Roman empire. Spain has had early Greek settlements (the word “Iberian” is claimed to have a Greek origin) and was Romanized by the first Century B.C. (the Roman word for Spain is “Hispania”). As a consequence, Spain has a long tradition in winemaking. However, until about 25 years ago, Spanish wines were generally not merchandised and they were little known internationally, Sherry (called vino de Jerez in Spain) being a major exception as it has long been actively sought by British merchants and exported to the United Kingdom.
Spanish wines usually aged in Spanish and French oak (nowadays American oak barrels are commonly used). They often had high alcoholic graduation, and in some cases the oak aging process was too long, overpowering the wines freshness and fruit character. The poor development of brand quality standards made difficult the identification of good wines to foreign customers. However, the use of marketing has helped them to rise to a point where they are now competing successfully in the international market.
Wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. has made mention of the following Spain’s great estates: Artadi, Clos Erasmus, Alvaro Palacios, Tinto Pesquera, Dominio de Pingus, and Bodega Vega Sicilia. Mas La Plana 1970 (then known as ‘Gran Coronas Black Label’) received first place in the important Cabernet blend category of the Wine Olympics, a major wine competition.
Geography and climate of Spain
Spain is located in southern Europe. The influence from the Atlantic ocean and the Mediterranean Sea provide a warm/hot and dry climate. This climate results in high yields for Spanish grapes/wines. The harvest occurs from August – October.
Classification of Wines from Spain
Denominación de Origen is an appellation primarily used for Spanish wines, but also other foodstuffs. It is parallel with the hierarchical AOC system of France (1935) and Italy (1966) although Rioja (1925) and Sherry (1933) preceded the full system. As of 2006, 72 wine regions have EU QWPSR (Quality Wine Produced in Specific Regions) status:
* Denominación de Pago (DO de Pago): Individual single-estates with an international reputation. There are 3 wine regions with this status.
* Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa/DOQ – Denominació d’Origen Qualificada in Catalan): Regions with (allegedly) a track record of consistent quality. There are 2 wine regions with this status.
* Denominación de Origen (Denominació d’Origen in Catalan – DO): mainstream quality-wine regions. There are 62 wine regions with this status.
* Vino de Calidad Producido en Región Determinada (VCPRD): a ‘starter home’ for wine regions climbing the quality ladder. There are 5 wine regions with this status.
* There are also some 55 country wine areas (Vinos de la Tierra – VdlT) which do not have EU QWPSR status but which may use a regional name.
* The simplest wine is classified as Vino de Mesa. This wine has no vintage or area designation on the label (apart from ‘Produce of Spain’) is falling in quantity of production every year.
The 72 recognized wine producing regions in Spain grow a wide diversity of grapes, mostly of native origin. The great variety of wines with unfamiliar names causes confusion among many consumers.
Rioja wines are labeled according to the amount of aging the wine has received. These are the national minimum, but many producers far exceed them:
* Cosecha wines (meaning “vintage”) are young and are not usually aged in wood. Alternatively, these may be the new-wave ‘High Expression’ wines which don’t use the traditional epithets as they are considered to be old-fashioned: the price should be a guide as to which is which.
* Crianza wines are aged for two years with at least one year in a cask.
* Reserva wines are aged for at least one year in an oak cask and at least one year in oak, with a further year in either.
* Gran Reserva wines are aged for at least 18 months in oak, and at least three years in the bottle and a minimum of five years total at the winery.
Sherry is produced in southern Spain in the region of Jerez. Palomino is the most popular grape to produce sherry, but Moscatel and Pedro Ximenez are also used. Sherry is made using the Solera system to blend wine of different vintages. Younger wine is moved through barrels of older wine to develop flavor.
Sherry has many categories
* Fino Sherry is a very light and delicate Sherry. These wines are characterized by flor (the surface growth of yeast in the barrels). From 15 to 18% of alcohol.
* Manzanilla Sherry comes from the Sanlucar district along the sea coast. The sea air leads the Sherry to develop a salty taste. These wines also have flor. This wine is produced using exactly the same process than Fino, but as weather conditions are very different in Sanlucar district it grows to a slightly different kind of wine. From 15 to 19% of alcohol.
* Amontillado Sherry is similar to Fino, however it does not have the as much flor development. These are deeper in color and drier than Finos and are left in the barrel longer. From 16 to 22% of alcohol.
* Oloroso Sherry is deeper/darker in color and have more residual sugar. These are more fortified. From 17 to 22% of alcohol.
* Cream sherry is very rich and can be a good dessert-style wine. From 15,5 to 22% of alcohol.
* Pedro Ximénez Sherry is very rich and is the most popular dessert-style wine. It’s made from raisins of Pedro Ximenez grapes dryed al the sun. About 18% of alcohol.
* Palo Cortado Sherry is very rare to get, as its an Oloroso wine that gets older in a different way only produced by nature (not able by human interaction). From 17 to 22% of alcohol.
Recently Sherry wines are used in very different kinds of high cuisine dishes to add special flavour. For example pork steak with Oloroso (very intense taste), artichoques with amontillado wine (short but deep taste), or pedro ximenez (reduced to 50% of its liquid content) with cakes of fruits.
Wine regions in Spain
Spain has a relatively large number of distinct wine-producing regions, more than half having the classification Denominación de Origen (DO) with the majority of the remainder classified as Vinos de la Tierra (VdlT). There are two regions nominated as Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa) – Rioja and Priorato – the flagship regions of Spanish winemaking. In 2006 the Spanish government passed a new law permitting Vinos de Pago, a method of identifying and regulating individual estates reputed to be among the finest in the country. Since it embraced the EU-sponsored QWPSR (Quality Wine Produced in Specific Regions) regulatory code – Vino de Calidad Producido en Región Determinada (VCPRD) – in Spanish, production of Vino de la mesa has declined and geographically-verifiable production has become the norm.
Denominación de Origen Calificada
The Rioja is easily the most famous wine-producing region in Spain. It focuses on red wines and is often called the Napa valley of Spain. The top red wines are made predominantly from Tempranillo with Garnacha, Graciano, and Mazuelo blended in. Many of the vineyards are field planted and bring in lower yields. The Priorato is a relative newcomer, based in the hills to the west of Tarragona.
Denominación de Origen
A full list of regions can be found at the main Spanish wine regions page. Notable DO regions include:
* Campo de Borja has recently become more prominent. It features a number of cooperatives who produce Garnacha and Tempranillo.
* Penedès is located near Barcelona and is notable for the production of the sparkling wine Cava. The more popular red wines produced here include Tempranillo (the number one red grape in Spain and equivalent to the Pinot Noir), Garnacha and Carinena.
* Rías Baixas is located in the Galicia region in the northwest of Spain. This DO is known for Albariño wine, Spain’s number one white wine. The other white grape varieties here include Treixadura, Loureira, Caino Blanco, and Torrontes. The popular red grapes in this region include Caino Tinot and Souson.
* Ribera del Duero is located just south of Rioja and challenged Rioja for the best red wines produced in Spain. Almost all of its wines are made from the Tempranillo grape.
* Rueda is located west of Ribera del Duero. This region produces good reds and whites less expensive than those from Rioja or Ribera del Duero.
Vino de la Tierra
Normally corresponding to the larger comunidad autonóma geographical regions, notable Vinos de la Tierra include:
* Castilla y León
* Castilla-la Mancha
* Balearic Islands
Learn About Italian Wine
Italy is one of the oldest wine regions in the world. Etruscans and Greek settlers produced wine in the country long before the Romans started developing their own vineyards in the second century BC. Roman wine-growing was prolific and well-organised, pioneering large-scale production and storage techniques like barrel-making and bottling. Two thousand years later, Italy remains one of the world’s foremost producers, responsible for approximately one-fifth of world wine production in 2005.
Wine is a popular drink in Italy. Many Italians drink it with every meal and in-between, and offer it to guests as soon as they arrive. Grapes are grown in almost every part of Italy, with more than 1 million vineyards under cultivation. Each region is proud of its carefully tended, neatly pruned vines. In some places the vines are trained along low supports. In others they climb as slender saplings. The people of each region are also proud of the wine they make from their own grapes.
Most winemaking in Italy is done in modern wineries, but villagers, making wine for their own use, sometimes tread the grapes with their bare feet until the juice is squeezed out. They believe this ancient method still makes the best wine.
As far as generalizations can be made, Italian wines tend to be acidic, dry (light-to-medium bodied, and subdued in flavour and aroma. Because of these characteristics, Italian wines are, in general, a better accompaniment to food than they are beverages to be enjoyed on their own.
The History of Italian Wine
Although wines had been elaborated from the wild Vitis vinifera grape for millennia, it wasn’t until the Roman defeat of the Carthaginians (acknowledged masters of wine-making) in the second century BC that Italian wine production began to properly flourish. Large-scale, slave-run plantations sprang up in many coastal areas and spread to such an extent that, in AD92, emperor Domitian was forced to destroy a great number of vinyards in order to free up fertile land for food production.
During this time, viticulture outside of Italy was prohibited under Roman law. Exports to the provinces were reciprocated in exchange for more slaves, especially from Gaul where trade was intense, according to Pliny, due to the inhabitants being besotted with Italian wine, drinking it unmixed and without restraint. Roman wines contained more alcohol and were generally more powerful than modern fine wines. It was customary to mix wine with a good proportion of water which may otherwise have been unpalatable, making wine drinking a fundamental part of early Italian life.
As the laws on provincial viticulture were relaxed, vast vineyards began to flourish in the rest of Europe, especially Gaul (present day France) and Hispania. This coincided with the cultivation of new vines, like biturica (ancestor of the Cabernets). These vineyards became hugely successful, to the point that Italy ultimately became an import centre for provincial wines.
Depending on the vintage, modern Italy is the world’s largest or second largest wine producer. In 2005, production was about 20% of the global total, second only to France, which produced 22%. In the same year, Italy’s share in dollar value of table wine imports into the U.S. was 32%, Australia’s was 24%, and France’s was 20%. Along with Australia, Italy’s market share has rapidly increased in recent years.
Italy’s Appellation System
Italy’s classification system is a modern one that reflects current realities. It has four classes of wine, with two falling under the EU category Quality Wine Produced in a Specific Region (QWPSR) and two falling under the category of ‘table wine’. The four classes are:
* Vino da Tavola – Denotes wine from Italy. NOTE: this is not always synonymous with other countries’ legal definitions of ‘table wine’. The appelation indicates either an inferior quaffing wine, or one that does not follow current wine law. Some quality wines do carry this appelation.
* Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) – Denotes wine from a more specific region within Italy. This appelation was created for the “new” wines of Italy, those that had broken the strict, old wine laws but were wines of great quality. Before the IGT was created, quality “Super Tuscan” wines such as Tignanello and Sassicaia were labeled Vino da Tavola.
* Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)
* Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)
Both DOC and DOCG wines refer to zones which are more specific than an IGT, and the permitted grapes are also more specifically defined. The main difference between a DOC and a DOCG is that the latter must pass a blind taste test for quality in addition to conforming to the strict legal requirements to be designated as a wine from the area in question. Presently, there are 120 IGT zones. In February 2006 there were 311 DOC plus 32 DOCG appellations, according to the Italian Ministry of Agriculture.
Wine Regions of Italy
Italy’s 20 wine regions correspond to the 20 political regions. Understanding of Italian wine becomes clearer with an understanding of the differences between each region; their cuisines reflect their indigenous wines, and vice-versa.
Italy’s wine regions are:
* Aosta Valley (Valle D’Aosta)
* Piedmont (Piemonte)
* Lombardy (Lombardia)
* Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol
* Friuli-Venezia Giulia
* Tuscany (Toscana)
* Marche (Le Marche)
* Abruzzi (Abruzzo)
* Sicily (Sicilia)
* Sardinia (Sardegna)
Key Italian wine varietals
Italy’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MIRAF), has documented over 350 grapes and granted them “authorized” status. There are more than 500 other documented varietals in circulation as well. The following is a list of the most common and important of Italy’s varietals.
* Sangiovese – Italy’s claim to fame, the pride of Tuscany. Its wines are full of cherry fruit, earth, and cedar. It produces Chianti Classico, Rosso di Montalcino, Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montepulciano, Montefalco Rosso, and many others.
* Nebbiolo – The most noble of Italy’s varietals. The name (meaning “little fog”) refers to the autumn fog that blankets most of Piedmont where it is grown, a condition the grape seems to enjoy. It is a somewhat difficult varietal to master, but produces the most renowned Barolo and Barbaresco, made in province of Cuneo, along with the lesser-known Sforzato, Inferno and Sassella made in Valtellina, Ghemme and Gattinara, made in Vercelli’s province. The wines are known for their elegance and bouquet of wild mushroom, truffle, roses, and tar.
* Montepulciano – The grape of this name is not to be confused with the Tuscan town of Montepulciano; it is most widely planted on the opposite coast in Abruzzo. Its wines develop silky plum-like fruit, friendly acidity, and light tannin.
* Barbera – The most widely grown red wine grape of Piedmont and Southern Lombardy, most famously around the towns of Asti and Alba, and Pavia. The wines of Barbera were once simply “what you drank while waiting for the Barolo to be ready.” With a new generation of wine makers, this is no longer the case. The wines are now meticulously vinified, aged Barbera gets the name “Barbera Superiore” Superior Barbera, sometines aged in French barrique becoming “Barbera Barricato”, and intended for the international market. The wine has bright cherry fruit, a very dark color, and a food-friendly acidity.
* Corvina – Along with the varietals rondinella and molinara, this is the principal grape which makes the famous wines of the Veneto: Valpolicella and Amarone. Valpolicella wine has dark cherry fruit and spice. After the grapes undergo passito (a drying process), the Amarone they yield is elegant, dark, and full of raisinated fruits. Some Amarones can age for 40+ years.
* Nero d’Avola – Nearly unheard of in the international market until recent years, this native varietal of Sicily is gaining attention for its robust, inky wines.
* Dolcetto – A grape that grows alongside barbera and nebbiolo in Piedmont, its name means “little sweet one””, referring not to the taste of the wine, but the ease in which it grows and makes great wines, suitable for everyday drinking. Flavors of concord grape, wild blackberries and herbs permeate the wine.
* Negroamaro – The name literally means “black and bitter”. A widely planted grape with its concentration in the region of Puglia, it is the backbone of the acclaimed Salice Salentino: spicy, toasty, and full of dark red fruits.
* Aglianico – Considered the “noble varietal of the south,” it is primarily grown in Campania and Basilicata. The name is derived from hellenic, so it is considered a Greek transplant. Thick skinned and spicy, the wines are both rustic and powerful.
* Sagrantino – A native to Umbria, it is only planted on 250 hectares, but the wines are world-renowned. Inky purple, with rustic brooding fruit and heavily tannic, these wines can age for many years.
* Malvasia Nera – Red Malvasia varietal from Piedmont. A sweet and perfumed wine, sometimes elaborated in the passito style.
Other major red varieties are Ciliegolo, Gaplioppo, Lagrein, Lambrusco, Monica, Nerello Mascalese, Pignolo, Primitivo, Refosco, Schiava, Schiopettino, Teroldego, and Uva di Troia.
“International” varietals such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc are also widely grown.
* Trebbiano – Behind cataratto (which is made for industrial jug wine), this is the most widely planted white varietal in Italy. It is grown throughout the country, with a special focus on the wines from Abruzzo. Mostly, they are pale, easy drinking wines, but trebbiano from producers such as Valentini have been known to age for 15+ years. It is known as Ugni Blanc in France.
* Moscato – Grown mainly in Piedmont, it is mainly used in the slightly-sparkling (frizzante), semi-sweet Moscato d’Asti. Not to be confused with moscato giallo and moscato rosa, two Germanic varietals that are grown in Trentino Alto-Adige.
* Nuragus – An ancient Phoenician varietal found in southern Sardegna. Light and tart wines that are drunk as an apertif in their homeland.
* Pinot Grigio – A hugely successful commercial grape (known as Pinot Gris in France), its wines are characterized by crispness and cleanness. As a hugely mass-produced wine, it is usually delicate and mild, but in a good producers’ hands, the wine can grow more full-bodied and complex. The main problem with the grape is that to satisfy the commercial demand, the grapes are harvested too early every year, leading to wines without character.
* Tocai Friuliano – A varietal distantly related to Sauvignon Blanc, it yields the top wine of Friuli, full of peachiness and minerality. Currently, there is a bit of controversy regarding the name, as the EC has demanded it changed to avoid confusion with the Tokay dessert wine from Hungary.
* Ribolla Gialla – A Slovenian grape that now makes its home in Friuli, these wines are decidedly old-world, with aromas of pineapple and mustiness.
* Arneis – A crisp and floral varietal from Piedmont, which has been grown there since the 15th century.
* Malvasia Bianca – Another white varietal that peeks up in all corners of Italy with a wide variety of clones and mutations. Can range from easy quaffers to funky, musty whites.
* Pigato – A heavily acidic varietal from Liguria, the wines are vinified to pair with a cuisine rich in sea-food.
* Fiano (wine) – Grown on the southwest coast of Italy, the wines from this grape can be described as dewy and herbal, often with notes of pinenut and pesto.
* Garganega – The main grape varietal for wines labeled Soave, this is a crisp, dry white wine from the Veneto wine region of Italy. It’s a very popular wine that hails from northeast Italy around the city of Verona.
Currently, there are over 3,500 distinct producers of Soave.
Other important whites include Carricante, Catarratto, Coda de Volpe, Cortese, Falaghina, Grillo, Inzolia, Picolit, Tocai Friulano, Traminer, Verdicchio, Verduzzo, Vermentino and Vernaccia.
As far as non-native varietals, the Italians plant chardonnay, gewürztraminer (sometimes called traminer aromatico), riesling, petite arvine, and many others.
The term “Super Tuscan” describes any Tuscan red wine that does not adhere to traditional blending laws for the region. For example, Chianti Classico wines are made from a blend of grapes with Sangiovese as the dominant varietal in the blend. Super Tuscans often use other grapes, especially cabernet sauvignon, making them ineligible for DOC(G) classification under the traditional rules.
In the 1970s Piero Antinori, whose family had been making wine for more than 600 years, decided to make a richer wine by eliminating the white grapes from the Chianti blend, and instead adding Bordeaux varietals (namely, cabernet sauvignon and merlot). He was inspired by a little-known (at the time) cabernet sauvignon made by relatives called Sassicaia, which openly flouted the rules set down for traditional wines in Tuscany. The result was the first Super Tuscan, which he named Tignanello, after the vineyard where the grapes were grown. Other winemakers started experimenting with Super Tuscan blends of their own shortly thereafter.
Because these wines did not conform to strict DOC(G) classifications, they were initially labeled as vino da tavola, meaning “table wine,” a term ordinarily reserved lower quality wines. The creation of the Indicazione Geografica Tipica category (technically indicating a level of quality between vino da tavola and DOCG) helped bring Super Tuscans “back into the fold” from a regulatory standpoint.