Tuscany has a long and illustrious history of making great indigenous wines. Indeed, the history of wine and food are indelibly linked with the history of Italy, such is its prominence and importance to the country: the famous Chianti, Brunello and Vin Santo wines all hail from the region.

Tuscany is also home to some of the finest internationally styled wines known as the Super Tuscans, a collection of outstanding wines that flouted the restrictive legal rules governing the production of wine at the time. These regulations stated that every wine required the use of Malvasia white grapes – so 100% Sangiovese wasn’t allowed – and they prohibited blending in non-traditional grapes; all wines that didn’t conform didn’t receive DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) classification.

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The history

The Super Tuscan movement began in the late 1960s. Led by legendary wine producers such as Marchese Piero Antinori, the Tuscan winemakers abandoned the DOC rules, creating wines using international varieties of grape like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. They experimented with French oak and, at times, blended the international grapes with the local Sangiovese. The resulting wines soon gained the attention of critics.

A wine called Sassicaia was produced by Marchese Mario Incisa della Rochetta, who initially created it for personal enjoyment, importing Cabernet Sauvignon vines and aging the wine in French oak barriques (as opposed to the large Slovenian casks that most Tuscan wine producers were using at the time). Antinori, whose family was, and still is, one of the largest winemaking families in Chianti, had tasted the early Sassicaia vintages and was impressed by the quality. In 1968, Antinori persuaded Rochetta to let his distributors have 250 cases of the wine to sell to the market, and in 1978 the wine won a tasting of the world’s best Cabernets held in London. Sassicaia now has its own DOC, and it remains the only single winery DOC in Italy.

Antinori realised the potential of introducing new varietals into the wines, and more importantly, he understood that he could produce a better wine than his Chianti, regardless of the lack of DOC classification. In 1971, Antinori released a new wine, the first Super Tuscan, Tignanello, using 100% Sangiovese grapes, which was a commercial success. Seeing this, many other Tuscan winemakers followed, producing wines at high prices that used different blends of grapes. The legal system eventually yielded in 1992 with the creation of IGT, a new designation that gave winemakers the ability and flexibility to be more creative.

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The wines

In a celebration of these wines and of 15 years of Hakkasan, the exclusive Super Tuscans wine dinner showcases six Super Tuscans from 2001 paired with a five course tasting menu.

Tignanello, 2001

One of Italy’s most widely recognised labels, the 2001 vintage of the Tignanello blends 85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc grapes.

Sassicaia, 2001

Produced using 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc grapes.

Ornellaia, 2001

Ornellaia is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot.

Solaia, 2001

Solaia is composed of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc and 20% Sangiovese.

Messorio, 2001

Produced using 100% Merlot.

Massetto, 2001

This fine wine has a reputation as a modern-day legend. 100% Merlot, it is often called the ‘Petrus of Italy’.

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The menu

Hand-dived scallops
salted egg yolk, sacha sauce

Da Yu dim sum trilogy
prawn and goji berry dumpling, king crab and chrysanthemum flower dumpling, Label Rouge chicken and foie gras puff

Cherry wood roasted Peking duck

White Dew fed Wagyu beef
water chestnut, rice cracker

Dawn of Senlin
chocolate, chestnut, vanilla

Petit fours