Posts tagged ‘fattoria le pupille’
Marco Salustri (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
There are countless treasures out there, if you only know where to look. This is true in many aspects of life; it’s especially valid when it comes to the subject of Italian wines. My most recent trip in mid-late May was an eye-opener, especially during my stay in the province of Grosseto.
Grosseto is located in the far southwestern reaches of Toscana; it reaches from the Tyrrhenian Sea east to its boundaries abutting the southwestern part of the province of Siena. There are numerous DOC and DOCG wine zones in Grosseto and many of them are a mystery to even the most avid Italian wine fan. These include Monteregio di Massa Marittima, Bianco di Pitigliano, Parrina (with only one producer!), Sovana and Morellino di Scansano; this last is the most famous of the wine zones, yet even this is hardly a household name.
For five days, I learned a tremendous amount about this territory, truly one of the most beautiful wine areas anywhere in Italy. I spent two days in the Morellino di Scansano area, visiting several estates with Giacomo Pondin, director of the local consorzio, who took me to a few vantage points with splendid panoramas, situated at an elevation of 1000-1200 feet where we could look out past the gorgeous vineyards on rolling hills all the way to the sea. If heaven looks half this lovely, I’ll be a happy man!
I also tasted a vast array of wines – white, red and rosé – from Grosseto province at Maremma Wine Food Shire, a fair that focused on local wines along with some lovely olive oils, salumi, cheeses and even some excellent local beer. This was a great opportunity for me to meet with some of the area’s finest producers, taste their wines and get to better understand what the viticultural scene of Grosseto is all about.
I’ll write only about a few highlights in this post. Most impressive were two examples of Montecucco from Tenuta Salustri. The Montecucco zone, planted primarily to Sangiovese – as are all red wines zones in the province – is situated between Morellino di Scansano and Montalcino. I tasted several examples at the fair, but the Salustri wines were in a league of their own. The “Santa Marta” offering, made exclusively from Sangiovese has very good varietal purity, excellent persistence and fine tannins; aged for two years in grandi botti, this is a lovely wine with ideal balance. The 2009 I sampled is drinking nicely now, but will improve for another 5-7 years.
The “Grotte Rosse” bottling, also 100% Sangiovese, takes things up a notch. Produced from 70 year-old vineyards with the Salustri clone that features very small berries, this is medium-full with excellent concentration. The aromas are simply wonderful, with perfumes of morel cherry, red roses and strawberry preserves; also aged for two years in large casks, the wood notes are subdued, while the finish is very long and pleasing with excellent persistence. The 2008 was the version I tried and I rated this as outstanding, a wine that should be at peak in 10-12 years. I’d match this up with 90% of the examples of Chianti Classicos out there; this is not only a wine that is of equal or better quality as compared with the top Chiantis, it also much less expensive.
Vineyard near Magliano in Toscana, Morellino di Scansano zone (Photo ©Tom Hyland)
Regarding Morellino di Scansano, there are numerous styles of this wine, which must contain a minimum of 85% Sangivovese. One of my favorite wines made in a fresh, charming style with moderate tannins and supple, tasty morel cherry fruit is the Fattoria Mantellasi “Mentore”; the 2011, aged solely in steel tanks is a delight with a hint of tobacco in the nose to accompany the appealing cherry notes. Medium-bodied, this has typical tart acidity and modest tannins you expect from a young wine made from Sangiovese; enjoy this over the next two years.
Fattoria Le Pupille, one of the most celebrated estates in the zone, brought back a lovely version of their Morellino di Scansano Riserva; the 2009, which contains 10% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend has complex aromas of cherry, marjoram and clove and has excellent concentration. The entry on the palate is elegant, there is impressive persistence and very good acidity, which rounds out the wine and gives it ideal balance. This is a first-rate wine that will drink well for 7-10 years.
Other examples of Morellino that impressed were the Moris Farms Riserva 2009, a wine of ideal harmony and complexity that will drink well for 5-7 years; the 2008 Riserva Massi di Mandorlaia, a lighter-styled riserva that is a lovely food wine and the 2008 Riserva “Primo” from Provveditore. This small estate is one of the most consistent in the area and I love all their wines! Even their regular Morellino di Scansano displays wonderful character and balance (the 2011 is the current release), while the riserva combines richness, complexity, ideal acidity and impressive persistence just beautifully; this is a wine with every component in perfect harmony. Drink the regular bottling now and give the riserva another 7-10 years to round out and display its finest qualities. This is a wine of impeccable breeding, one that combines great focus and varietal purity with beautiful expression of terroir.
I’ll deal with the white wines that impressed me (especially the 2011 Fattoria di Magliano Vermentino) and a few other reds (including an amazing Ciliegiolo from Gianpaolo Paglia at Poggio Argentiera) in a future post. Just too many special wines for one post!
Vineyard at Fattoria San Felo near Magliano
Over the past two decades, the producers from Morellino di Scansano in southwestern Tuscany have been producing a beautiful array of red wines in various styles, from offerings that have soft tannins and tasty cherry fruit that are best enjoyed within a year or two of the vintage to more-full bodied wines that can age for a decade or more. Even more impressively, these wines have remained fairly priced.
The Morellino di Scansano district is located in the lower portion of the Maremma, a somewhat wild (until recently) stretch of coastal Tuscany. Just southeast of the city of Grosseto, this area contains a number of different soils from sandstone to calcaire to clay and rocks. The topography changes quite a bit from west to east, as vineyards in the western reaches of this district – not far from the sea – sit at 30-100 feet above sea level, while the elevation becomes higher the further east or inland you go; some plantings are at 1500 feet above sea level. Generally the wines from the western part of the zone are relatively fruity with soft tannins and are meant for early consumption – these examples of Morellino di Scansano are charming wines and among the most typical of this area. Meanwhile the wines from the center of the district – near the cities of Scansano and Magliano – along with those from the far eastern reaches are richer with higher acidity and firmer tannins; these offerings can age for 10-15 years from the best vintages.
As with most red wines from Tuscany, Morellino di Scansano is made primarily from the Sangiovese grape. The regulations here call for a minimum of 85% of this variety, which is higher than even Chianti Classico (80% minimum Sangiovese) or any other Chianti wine (75%). Morellino, which meaning “little morel”, referring to the high acid morel cherry, is the local synonym for Sangiovese in this district. Other grapes that are used to blend with Sangiovese in this wine include local varieties such as Ciliegiolo, Canaiolo and Colorino along with international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot.
When Morellino di Scansano was designated as a DOC wine in 1978, there were only 10 producers in the area who grew their own grapes or purchased them from 36 growers who were members of the local cooperative. Not long after, as the reputation of this district as a high quality area for Sangiovese, many producers from outside the district started to purchase land here and produce their own wines. This includes some of the finest vintners from other Tuscan zones such as Montepulciano (Poliziano), Chianti Classico (Fonterutoli) and Montalcino (Castello Romitorio, et al). Certainly the notoriety of such distinguished producers as these helped greatly when the Morellino producers sought the coveted DOCG classification, which was awarded to Morellino di Scansano as of the 2007 vintage. Today in 2011, there are more than 200 wine firms in Morellino di Scansano.
Prices, as mentioned above, are quite reasonable with the basic Morellino bottlings coming in at retail prices of $12-16 on US retail shelves, while the finest Riserva bottlings, such as the Fattoria Le Pupille “Poggio Valente” selling for $30-$35. This last wine is among the finest bottlings of Morellino di Scansano each year; offering excellent depth of fruit and ideal balance and structure, this wine can easily age 12-15 years from most vintages, especially the most recent releases of 2007 and 2008.
Here is a short list of the finest producers of Morellino di Scansano:
Fattoria Le Pupille
Fattoria La Querciarossa
Az. Agr. Ugolini
Massi di Mandorlaia
Terre di Fiori – Tenute Le Coste
Az. Agraria Santa Lucia di Scotto Lorenzo
Fattoria San Felo
Terre di Talamo