Along with the Piedmont, Tuscany is Italy's most important wine-producing area. Chianti, Brunello, Vino Nobile, and Vin Santo are known all over the world, as are the ""Super Tuscans,"" a large group of important, high-quality reds born in the early 1970s and now representing some of Italy's best wines. Back then, producers began chafing under the restrictive regulations of the DOC (Denominazione di Origin Controllata). Some sought to avoid using certain legally recommended grape varieties, such as the Italian white grapes that were considered an integral part of Chianti; others started blending Cabernet and Merlot, which at the time were proscribed, with native grape varieties.
While Tuscany offers a plethora of riches to the wine lover, some of its most famous Tuscan wines, especially Chianti and Brunello, are experiencing a slump in sales. There are many reasons for this, beginning with a steep rise in prices over the last five or ten years. There has also been a wave of new, moneyed owners who have not let their lack of winemaking experience get in the way of buying a piece of this beautiful region. This has opened the floodgate for oenological consultants, many of whom work for numerous estates in the same area but routinely apply their tried-and-true recipe to winemaking, leading to the production of Tuscan wines that resemble one another to a dismaying degree. Add to this the insistence on making deeply colored wines that are often overconcentrated, overoaked, and charmless, and you begin to have a good idea of why Chianti and some other Tuscan red wines don't sell all that well anymore. Fortunately, producers have begun to recognize these errors, prices have finally stopped rising, and, mercifully, more trees are being allowed to live as less importance is afforded to new oak barrels.