Tuscany: Geography and vine varieties

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

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Tuscany produces wines in a wide variety of elevations, expositions, and soils. Vineyards spread from the plains of the maremma on the Tuscan coast and steep hillsides as high as 550 m/1,800 ft above sea level in Gaiole-in-Chianti and Lamole in Greve-in-Chianti. A full 68% of the region is officially classified as hilly (a mere 8% of the land is flat) and hillside vineyards, at elevations of between 150 and 500 m (500–1,600 ft) supply the vast majority of the better-quality wines. The sangiovese vine, the backbone of the region’s production, seems to require the concentration of sunlight that slopes can provide to ripen well in these latitudes, as well as the less fertile soils on the hills. Growers also value the significant day-night temperature variability as an important factor in developing its aromatic qualities.