Sassicaia, Ornellaia: Italian brands of wine that are familiar to everyone these days. They are bywords for a category that has become known in the oenological world as “Super Tuscans”. And above all, they are bywords for the emergence of a wine region which, previously, nobody ever talked about. Suddenly, Maremma became the new trendsetter. The growing region is located on Italy's west coast and stretches from Livorno, right down to Grosseto.
The success story began with the Cabernet Sauvignon variety, which was nigh on a revolution. Maremma's reputation is not built on Sangiovese. Merlotand Syrahtoo were often given preference over the Tuscan native grape. Sassicaia began with Cabernet Sauvignon. This (expensive) cult wine is one of the country's best crus. More investors soon followed, such as the Ornellaia estate which, with its eponymous top-of-the-range wine and the premium Merlot Masseto, delights many wine lovers. Over the decades, wineries from outside Tuscany also discovered this gold-digging territory, among them iconic vintner Angelo Gaja from Piedmont and star producer Elisabetta Foradori from Trentino.
Overshadowed by the phenomenal success of the global grape varieties, the great results that can be yielded by Sangiovese in Maremma were almost forgotten. Here, the variety is called "Morellino". It was pioneered by Fattoria Le Pupille, the winery founded by Elisabetta Geppetti. In the 1980s, the estate brought its first Morellino di Scansano onto the market. Today, this is available in the basic and Reserva version. There is also the single vineyard cru Poggio Valente. Nonetheless, Le Pupille has also created a cult Cabernet Sauvignon with its Saffredi.
Whether the Maremma hype will endure is a moot point. There are some signs that the market is slowly reaching saturation point. Plus, people are no longer willing to pay any price for top-of-the-range wines. Despite this, however, there are still new and interesting discoveries to be made, particularly in the south of the appellation. As an importer once wrote: “Anyone who brings an open mind to tasting these wines is sure to be rewarded with a surprise or two”. One that comes to mind is the Morellino di Scansco Riserva Edition Peter Keller 2018 by Fattoria Le Pupille. The producer has bottled a special and exceptionally accomplished wine (exclusively available at Mondovino).
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