Two ‘Super Tuscans’ pump it up

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Manly wine: The character of the 2006 Castello di Bolgheri Varvara is masculine, with dark red fruit undertones, white pepper and liquid minerals, according to wine reviewer W. Peter Hoyne. | Matt Marton~Sun-Times Media

Bolgheri is an area along the Mediterranean coastline respectfully known as the unconventional territory of Tuscany where reds can be brawny and flex their muscles.

The accolades for these wines are abundant and these revered wines are known as “Super Tuscans.” Instead of having a caressing expression of Sangiovese in the blend, these wines have a predominance of Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and are New World in their personality.

Regional laws have not restrained this sector of Tuscany while winemakers have latitude to use Bordeaux varietals to raise the bar and move away from traditional styles. While the first Bolgheri DOC was established in 1983, the reds weren’t regulated until 1994. The Bolgheri Rosso and Bolgheri Rosso Superiore are allowed freedom to blend between 10-80 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, up to 80 percent Merlot, up to 70 percent Sangiovese and 30 percent of other varietals. Mario Incesa della Rocchetta experimented with Cabernet Sauvignon vines in this region before releasing the first Super Tuscan in 1971, while many others have since followed in his footsteps.

The ancestry of the Bolgheri Castle dates back to the 1500s but the vineyards surrounding the castle were planted in 1997. These vineyards consist of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot. In addition to Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, the Superiore has a percentage of Cabernet Franc while the Varvara has the addition of Syrah and Petite Verdot.

This duo from Castello Di Bolgheri can both claim rights to center stage but the Superiore is more profound and mature, as you may expect for an older brother, while the Varvara is a more forward and precious younger sibling. The 2005 Castello di Bolgheri Superiore has an opaque rim with aromas of roasted herbs and sandalwood. There are finely integrated tannins laced with dried black cherries, leather, roasted coffee and truffles. This wine is thrilling to drink now and is a stunning example of a Super Tuscan that has sense of place and elegance.

The 2006 Castello di Bolgheri Varvara is dark ruby in color and is amply endowed with the addition of Syrah. The character of this wine is more masculine with dark red fruit undertones, white pepper and liquid minerals. It has good density and structure that benefits from some time in the glass before enjoying.

Suggested Retail: 2005 Castello Di Bolgheri Superiore: $ 69.99

Suggested Retail: 2006 Castello Di Bolgheri Varvara: $ 35.99

W. Peter Hoyne has been a wine journalist for over 20 years, covering stories of national and international significance. While his professional relationships in the wine industry have allowed him to share a unique perspective of wine, he is also intrigued by the culinary aspect and harmony that exist between wine and food. As a wine advocate, he is committed to consumer education and is focused on upcoming trends and American wine-buying habits.