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“Not even the beasts who abound/ In the wilds between Cecina and Corneto, and hate tilled land, would call this their kind of ground.” This is what 13th century poet Dante Alighieri wrote about the old days of the Maremma of Tuscany. What was once swampland infested with both vermin and banditry is now considered the coast d’oro of Italy. Say what you will about Benito Mussolini, it was under his fascist government in the 1920s that Tuscany was rebuilt and became a prime vacation spot. Now opulent vineyards cover the landscape surrounding this romantic seaside destination. From Purgatorio evolved Paradiso.
Maremma wines are the “Super Tuscans” that emerged from this renewal. The movement began in the early 1940s, when Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta moved to Bolgheri. In the interest of making wines for private consumption, he imported Cabernet Sauvignon vines from Bordeaux’s Chateau Lafitte and established a little vineyard called Tenuta San Guido. While very rustic at first, he began to develop his wines into what evolved into Sassicaia, what some say is the duperest of the Super Tuscans.
With the cult success of Sassicaia, other producers began experimenting with “international” and Italian varietals such as Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Alicante and Aleatico for reds and Vermentino, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay for whites. Of course, these often include the regional star red grape, Sangiovese. The DOC regulations in Tuscany strictly forbid such “wild west” wine-making antics, and these wines are forced to be produced as Vino di Tavola, even at $200 a pop. The only exception is Bolgheri Sassicaia, which is the first and only DOC named for a single estate, and for any using such high percentages of so-called “international” varietals.
Also located within the Maremma is the Morellino di Scansano DOCG. This is based on the Sangiovese grape, here called Morellino (“little dark or brown one”). These grapes see more heat and sun exposure than their counterparts further inland, and tend to be fruitier and less acidic, requiring less aging upon release. For more information, please see Morellino di Scansano in regions.
Other leading Maremma producers are Ornellaia, Petra, Castello del Terriccio, Ca Marcanda (Gaja), Montepeloso, Fattoria Le Pupille (especially for Morellino di Scansano DOCG), Antinori and Biondi Santi. ~Amanda Schuster
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