It’s enough to mention the word "Tuscany” and immediately a series of cliche’ images spring to mind of charming restaurants and lines of cypress trees boardering dusty tracks and winding their way up green hillsides, bent in the breeze. But once beyond that, more sides to Tuscany appear; take for example the coast-line where one can find the “supertuscans”…
There are many international journalists who, when talking about the “blossoming” of this magnificent part of Tuscany, recall the rebirth of californian winemaking. And in fact the similarities are easy to find. Here, the sea; there an Ocean, here, unspoilt landscapes; there, never-ending horizons, here, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot; there too, here, rich and famous investors; there too. But as we all know, comparisons are to be taken with a pinch of salt. Whilst Sassicaia was growing at its own pace, at the speed of a true, country gentleman and without selling a single bottle to the famous, there, “business” was stronger than anything else. Whilst here wine is a way of life; even if not always exclusively, there, wine is a “manner” or a pose. The fact is that wine in Italy is a culture, a lasting moment that makes ones eyes light up between one laced espresso and another; not just part of a specialised cantina. In Tuscany it is not just a question of simple ancestory. One can find a variety of unique and original vines; not least of all Sangiovese.
Completely bare of vineyards until about 50 years ago, the area of Bolgheri is currently the focus point of "investment-fever" and on the Tuscan coast, "pandemia" has been declared. The few “happy buyers” of land parcels in the area are now uncountable. Following Sassicaia, the larger regional land-owning investors arrived. And now, along with the Antinori and Mazzei families, the whole of Italy and its “bella gente” have joined in the dance; the Lunelli group, Angelo Gaia, the Fratini brothers, the famous dutchman Eric Jelgersma with multi-ownerships in the Bordeaux to the Lafite Rotschild group in a joint venture with Castellare di Castellina. This is obviously not the complete list but includes some of the important few; some more “normal” individuals have also expanded their boundaries by a few hectares and all this because the place lives up to it’s reputation as the new Eldorado.
It’s enough to watch the evening sun setting behind the Elba island or Cap Corse to understand that, if it has taken thousands of years for the value of this area to be recognised, it’s simply because our planet still loves to give us beautiful surprises.
Eric Boshman is renowned Belgian sommelier and wine journalist. He is multi-talented food hedonist and founder of the Food and Wine Academy in Brussels in 2003. This iconoclast tries to make the world of wine more accessible without falling into the trap of oversimplification.