Taking a break from writing the pages for my website on the Tuscan Maremma, it’s time to feature two Maremman wines, available in the UK and models of good (drinking) practice. The first is Podere 414’s Morellino di Scansano 2007 (Wine Society, £11.50). A little translation is required here: Podere is simply a farm or a plot of land, while Morellino is the local name for the classic Tuscan grape, Sangiovese, in the Southern Maremma, around the town of Scansano. The DOCG (quality designation) requires 85% Morellino grapes, here complemented by 15% Alicante (a Tuscan form of Grenache).
The wine itself is an excellent if slightly atypical example of Morellino – lovely lively red, a great nose of ripe fruit, very rounded in the mouth (due no doubt in part to the 14.5% alcohol), very good. What is atypical is that they go to great lengths to extract every last drop of flavour – low intervention in vineyard and winery; carbonic maceration; partial drying of the small proportion of Alicante grapes in the mix – which results in a fuller, more rounded wine and arguably too much alcohol. Does it lack characteristic Morellino freshness? No, it just a slightly different style.
The second wine is a real Southern Maremman treasure, Sassotondo’s Ciliegiolo 2008. This is the everyday version of wine made from the Ciliegiolo grape – there is also a top wine called San Lorenzo. The former is aged briefly in stainless steel and has great primary fruit flavours. In the glass it has a good deep ruby red with purple tinges, a great nose of cherries and plums – and the smell of bacon according to my culinary son – rich sweet fruit on the palate, balanced tannins and acidity, quite a long finish. In short a red wine of great character. The good news is that it is currently stocked by the Wine Society, a brilliant bottle at just under £9.
A happy Tuscan – actually Maremman – New Year!