Story and photos by Manos Angelakis

Morellino & Montecucco Vineyard

The Tyrrhenian coast of Tuscany, where rolling hills and Sangiovese  vineyards dominate the environment, is known to a few wine aficionados.

Everyone knows the Chianti, Chianti Classico, Montalcino, Montepulciano,  Bolgheri etc. wine production areas and many of the wines produced there are much in demand, but there are some newer DOC and DOCG denominations that create as great wines as the better known areas, yet are not as  well known. One of the reasons is that the better known areas have  received their denominations much earlier and have promoted their wines  extensively in the US.

Morellino & Montecucco Press trip

I visited two of the newer Italian denominations, Morelino di Scansano  and Montecucco and I’ll say that their higher priced red wines are as  good as any Brunello or Vino Nobile; actually, numerous of the larger  and better known Tuscan producers - the Cecchi brothers, Castello  Romitorio, Castello di Poppiano, and Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi for  example - have now large operations in these two DOCGs.

I have written in the past about the Morellino di Scansano wines. Most  are blends of 85% Sangiovese grosso, or other Sangiovese clones, plus 15% other allowed grape varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet  Sauvignon or Syrah. A few producers blend their Sangiovese with another  local varietal, Ciliegiolo. A number of blends might also have the  allowed 15% from locally grown Alicante - Alicante could be either the French varietal Alicante Bouchet or the Spanish Garnacha. All the  samples we had were delicious, full bodied, rather aromatic wines that  paired beautifully with local food specialties like pappardelle al ragu  di Cinghiale (wide homemade pasta in a wild boar ragout). Boar meat  seems to be ubiquitous in Tuscany and I’ve tasted many local recipes  based on it. Actually, as a winemaker told me “It’s not that we love the taste of the boar meat, but for us it’s revenge for the damage they do  going through the vineyards”. I have been told that a vineyard looks  like it has been harvested by a mechanical harvester, after the wild  boars have gone through it.

Morellino & Montecucco three bottles

Most of the wines we tasted were from the 2014 vendemmia (vintage) with a  couple samples from 2013 and Reservas of 2012. A number were vinified  and aged in stainless steel and had seen no wood. Some were organic (or  were farmed as organic but because of the proximity to other non-organic vineyards could not be certified as organic). There were a few  biodynamic producers certified by Demeter. 

All producers make nice white wines, mostly Vermentino or blends of  Vermentino and Sauvignon Blanc. But what is of real interest to me were the reds based on the Sangiovese grape.

The sample from Santa Lucia “Luciano 2014” was one that had seen no wood. Light and fresh in the mouth. Nicely aromatic with some evident  acidity, light bodied, it tasted very good when had with a meal.

Also from the 2014 vendemmia, La Selva “Morellino di Scansano” was 85%  Sangiovese, 15% Merlot. A biodynamic wine that has also seen no wood was full bodied, with nice acidity.

Morellino & Montecucco Large Barrels and Winemaker

Another 2014 vintage, from Fattoria di Magliano called “Heba” was a blend of  85% Sangiovese and 15% Syrah. This was vinified in cement vats. Full  bodied, with soft tannins but a bit spicy.

Another from the 2014 vintage Villa Patrizia “Lorneta”€ was a blend of 90%  Sangiovese and 10% a mixture of Cabernet Sauvignon and Canaiolo (the  percentages of the complementary grapes change with the vintage).

Castello Romitorio’s 2014 “Blue Label”€ was a blend of 85% Sangiovese and 15%  Cabernet Sauvignon. A little more alcohol than the previous wines (14%  ABV) but it was great with food and is a worthy companion to Romitorio’s Brunello.

2014 “Campo Maccione”€ from Rocca delle Macie, another of the major Tuscan  producers. It is a blend of 90% Sangiovese, 5% Merlot and 5% Cabernet  Sauvignon. Nicely bodied, it paired well with a plate of Pacchieri al  Genovese, a Neapolitan specialty I make at home.

The 2013 Podere 414 Morellino di Scansano” was a rather tannic blend of  Sangiovese, Ciliegiolo and Canaiolo. The blend changes every year  depending on the harvest. The sample we tasted would need considerable  time in the cellar to mellow.

The 2013 Doga delle Clavule “Morellino di Scansano” was an exceptional  wine, nicely aromatic and soft, 85% Sangiovese 15% mixture of Merlot and Alicante Bouchet that changes with the vintage.

Morellino & Montecucco Bariques

Finally, two outstanding reservas from 2012. Fattoria’s Le Pupille “Morellino di Scansano Reserva” was nicely spicy, a blend of 85% Sangiovese and 15%  Cabernet Sauvignon that had I year in oak and 1 year in bottle. In my  opinion, it is a very nice wine that will become much better with a  couple more years in cellar and has the possibility of a long life.  Another exceptional Reserva was Poggio Maestrino e Spiaggiole “Pogio  Maestrino Reserva” € from 2012. This was another blend, 90% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Merlot. It has been awarded 3 Bicchieri in the past, but the 2012 was a bit  more tannic than expected and will need much more time in cellar to  mellow.

We tasted these wines, both at the offices of the consortium (without  food) and with meals at Terme di Saturnia’s Michelin starred restaurant  and La Cantina Ristoro, one of the best restaurants in the area.

We also visited numerous wineries and vineyards, and I will give a more  detailed descriptions in future stories of the wineries I thought made  exceptional wines worth gracing a reader’s table. 

To your health!

 

 

 

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