While chianti is the best-known Tuscan wine, a little probing reveals a wide variety of fine selections from the region, notably in southern Tuscany around Siena and in the Maremma near the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Most of the wines use sangiovese as their foundation, generally blended with other native varieties, and increasingly Bordeaux grapes. Typically, the wines exhibit bright cherry fruit, firm, dry structure, and earthy qualities.
Carmignano (a few miles northwest of Florence) has been prized since the 1700s. Today, the wines must include at least 50% sangiovese and 10%-20% cabernet sauvignon or cabernet franc. Small amounts of other grapes are permitted.
A few miles east of Florence, within the Chianti Rufina subzone, lies the tiny Pomino denomination. Its Rosso (red) wines require at least 50% sangiovese, up to 50% merlot or pinot nero, and up to 25% other red grapes.
Montepulciano, southeast of Siena, is home to Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Its name reflects its popularity with royalty over the centuries. The wines must contain at least 70% sangiovese (known locally as prugnolo gentile) blended with other local varieties.
West of Montepulciano, the southern Maremma is drawing increased attention for Morellino di Scansano. Named for the village of Scansano and the local name for sangiovese (the wine must contain at least 85%), growing conditions here favor supple, inviting wines.
The most famous part of the Maremma is up the coast in the Bolgheri region. It’s home to such famous Super Tuscans as Sassicaia, Guado al Tasso and Ornellaia.
And now, the wines:
• 2018 Barco Reale ($18) 75% sangiovese; fresh for early enjoyment
• 2016 Carmignano ($30) 80% sangiovese, 20% cabernet sauvignon; powerful, strong tannins
• 2013 Ghiaie della Furba ($51) 40% cabernet sauvignon, 35% syrah, 25% merlot; mature, inviting
• 2015 Trefiano Riserva ($59) from prime vineyards surrounding Villa di Trefiano; 80% sangiovese; juicy, rich, elegant
Selvapiana Pomino Rosso
• 2015 Villa Petrognano ($21) 60% sangiovese, 20% merlot, 20% cabernet sauvignon; intense, smoky
Poliziano Vino Nobile
• 2019 Rosso di Montepulciano ($17) 80% sangiovese, 20% merlot; fresh
• 2017 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano ($30) 85% sangiovese; bright, earthy
• 2017 Asinone ($63) limited production; 95% sangiovese; succulent, rich, firmly structured
Morellino di Scansano
• 2018 Lohsa ($16) 85% morellino; fresh, silky
• 2109 Le Volte dell’ Ornellaia ($34) merlot, cabernet sauvignon and sangiovese; deep fruit, fresh herbs, fine balance
• 2107 Tassinaia ($34); almost equal percentages of cabernet sauvignon and merlot; firm, earthy, inviting