Don't try to resist Tuscany - you'll only be denying yourself one of life's greatest pleasures. Spend just a day driving Tuscany's winding roads, touring the vineyards, sipping the vino, and breaking bread with the hospitable locals and you'll be captivated for life. On a recent visit to Maremma, along the southernmost coast of Tuscany, each glass of Morellino di Scansano wine that I savored deliciously captured the region's many charms. And don't worry if you can't make it to Maremma - with the increasing availability of Morellino di Scansano around the globe, you can experience this unique taste of Toscana virtually wherever you are.
Morellino di Scansano may not YET be a household name outside of Italy, but this high quality and affordable Italian red wine has all of the qualities needed to breakthrough in a major way. Morellino di Scansano is made from a minimum of 85% Sangiovese - the same grape that is the foundation of Chianti and Brunello. Morellino is the local name for Sangiovese and it is a unique expression of the varietal - Scansano is a village in the region. Maremma's gentle sea breezes and diverse soils nurture grapes with soft tannins that can be enjoyed young & fresh or aged for further complexity. The high quality of winemaking in the region led to Morellino di Scansano being elevated to the prestigious DOCG (Denomination of Origin Controlled Guaranteed) category in 2007 - Italy's highest classification level for wine. Last year, the region produced almost 10 million bottles of wine.
On my visit to Maremma, I was honored to spend time with winemakers that have dedicated themselves to producing Morellino di Scansano and carrying on a tradition that dates back to the Etruscan era. Some of the winemakers were born into this way of life and never imagined doing anything else. Others uprooted their lives and followed their dreams because the desire to create wine was too powerful to ignore. All of them were passionate and generous. Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing information about Morellino di Scansano and the people who produce it. Today, I'll introduce you to 2 very different winemakers: Tenuta dell 'Ammiraglia and Poggio Trevvalle.
Presenting their first vintage in 2006, Tenuta dell 'Ammiraglia may be one of the newest wineries in Maremma but it was founded by Marchesi de' Frescobaldi - a noble family whose winemaking roots in Tuscany span 700 years. A stunning state-of-the-art facility surrounded by a breathtaking landscape, Tenuta dell 'Ammiraglia makes a strong statement - Italy's most established & prestigious winemakers believe in Morellino di Scansano and are investing their resources.
Tenuta dell'Ammaraglia Pietraregia Morellino di Scansano Riserva 2011 ($15) is an excellent introduction to a full-bodied and bold Morellino with great aging potential. Sangiovese is blended beautifully with Syrah and Ciliegiolo (a local grape, the name Ciliegiolo comes from the Italian word for cherry) to create a delicious wine with flavors of ripe dark fruit and a hint of spice.
I've never met a winemaker quite like Umberto Valle of Poggio Trevvalle. He's so humble that when asked what makes his wine special, he shrugs his shoulders and replies "Nothing." Nothing could be further from the truth. Alongside his brother Bernardo, Umberto produces certified organic wines of definitive character. Founded in 1998, Poggio Trevvalle's Morellino di Scansano wines have an exuberant freshness and subtle salinity. With roots in farming, the Valle brothers know the nuances of their land and how to coax the best flavors from their grapes. Umberto does not believe in overwhelming wines with too much wood and his minimalist approach allows the essence of the grapes to shine through. Poggio Trevvalle Morellino di Scansano 2013 ($20) blends Sangiovese with Merlot and Alicante. It has vibrant flavors of pomegranate, blackberry, plum and cherry with a bit of acidity - a fresh and satisfying wine.
Stay tuned, I'll be sharing more reviews of Morellino di Scansano wines over the next few weeks.