During the past week I attended one of the most informative tastings of Italian wine in years. I was introduced the Italian region of Morellino di Scansano. This growing area is within the physical area of Maremma. The closest airport is located in Grosseto. The growing area of the appellation covers land near the Mediterrean up to the foothills of the town of Scansano. Morellino di Scansano was given the D.O.C.G. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) in 2007. This is the Italian equal of say: Pommard, Barbaresco, Gigondas, Barolo,St. Emilion etc. In order to earn this denomination the wines must be of at least 85% Sangiovese and come with in the geographical land mass designated. The wines produced must show the individual character of the land. At present there are 250 growers of the wine region with 90 producing their own label of Morellino.
The quality of the wines produced under the name Morellino de Scansano is outstanding. I had never before seen or heard of the name or region of Morellino. The range of wines tasted were well above average in quality and all had solid color and aromatics which expressed the Sangiovese in many different ways due to the blending of either Granache, Merlot, Cabernet, Cabernet Franc, or Syrah. Most of the wines see modest amounts of time in oak except for the reservas. The young 2011's are most often produced in stainless steel or concrete vats. As for the price of these wines they fall in the area of $15-$22 per bottle. This is very fair when they are compared to other Italian reds of similar quality.
Within the Italian viticultural community there is keen interest. This is shown when people like Jacopo Biondi-Santi have established vineyards in Scansano. His Castello di Montepo is unique since he has brought a special clone of Sangiovese known as BBS11, which is from the Biondi-Santi llGreppo vineyard. His annual production is but four thousand cases!!! He is the biggest name on the scene but among the other producers are people with as little as 10 hectares as well as a co-opertive with 20+ growers. Keep your eyes open or ask your wine merchant if they have access to Morello di Scansano. These are wines that will reward your curiosity. Importation of Morellino di Scansano like all newer wines is just getting started.
Some producers you should look for are;
Castello di Montepo
Terre di Flori
Tenuta Pietramore di Collegafiano: "Brumaio"
La Selva: "Colli dell'Uccellina
Bruni: "Laire" Reserva
Keep in mind that since the DCOG is only five years old there is a lot of room to grow. I found the owners and winemakers to be technically sound and eager to expand the their market place. The quality of the wines shown is very high. This appellation is well worth your time and effort. Bring a bottle of this region to your Italian wine buff friends and watch their expression. Enjoy..