You know the wines of Tuscany, sure – but it’s such a blanket term. Drill a bit deeper and there’s a world of hidden gems to discover far beyond the ones you already know.
 
The area around the town of Grosseto, along the Mediterranean coast in southwest Tuscany, is known as Maremma. The coastal location benefits from the region’s prized maritime climate. Major wine estates began popping up in the late 90s and early 2000s, as notable producers seized upon the area’s potential. 
 
While Tuscany writ-large is synonymous with the Sangiovese grape, Maremma is different. Here, we see the region’s potential for a variety of grapes – including those hailing from France, used to make both blends and varietal wines. In fact, less than half of Maremma’s 8,550 hectares are used to grow Sangiovese. 
 
This is a land of experimentation led by a coterie of skilled winemakers thirsty for something new. The region became an officially recognized consortium in 2014. Look for DOC Maremma Toscana on the label. (Sometimes, it’s Maremma Toscana DOC depending on the producer.) Best of all, the wines pack a ton of value. Here’s a quick guide to the wines coming out of the eclectic region right now.
 
Vermentino

This is a grape at which Maremma excels and you will see a lot of it coming out of the region. Most believe it hails from northwest Italy. There is a certain essence to this grape – an underlying fizz, a buzz, that hearkens to the first cut of a crisp green-and-red mottled apple. These are fragrant, floral, and spicy wines. And coming out of Maremma, value is abundant. You should be able to find these at your local retail shop: 
 
Rocca di Montemassi Calasole Vermentino 2017 – Average SRP $13
Val Delle Rose Litorale Vermentino 2017 – Average SRP $11

Sangiovese
 
I’m really excited to see the value available in Maremma Sangiovese bottles. While you can find more premium examples from Maremma (Poggio Cagnano Altaripa is an example), these quality bottles are available at affordable prices. Two to try: 
 
Berretta Maremma Toscana DOC Rosso 2016 – Average SRP $15
Il Civettaio Sangiovese Maremma Toscana DOC 2013 – Average SRP $18
 
Beyond the Beaten Path
 
The Mazzei family has been making wine in Tuscany since the 1300s – that’s not a typo. Seven hundred years of experience is nearly unfathomable. The Mazzei’s led the charge to Maremma in the mid-90s, settling the seventy-hectare Belguardo Estate.  The Maremma Toscana DOC is mostly a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, although the proportions change. It’s a Wine Spectator Top 100 favorite – and a favorite of mine, too. The first vintage dates back to 2000, leading the way for other Maremma producers to experiment with non-indigenous grape varietals. Merlot (look for La Chimera D’Albegna) and Syrah (look for Casteani Marujo) are not uncommon, and the experimentation is sure to continue.
 
But get this – Maremma is also producing a bunch of Ciliegiolo. And because it’s one of the under-sung grapes out there right now, value runs high. The grape name means “cherry”, and that’s no surprise. The wines are juicy and full-bodied with accented by berry and spice notes. Cantina Vignaioli Scansano is a good bet.
 
Hit the Road
 
Sick of drinking at home? It’s time to plan your 2019 travel. Maremma, the territory itself, is an eno-tourist’s dream. Explore the Silver Coast, Etruscan Coast, and historic down of Grosseto. Producers will welcome you with opened arms. This is an of Tuscany that isn’t overrun with commercial tourism. It’s perfect for the savvy eno-traveler. Learn more here. Buon viaggio!