The Maremma, home to some of Italy’s top wines: Richard Esling, July 14
Located on the southern coast of Tuscany, the Maremma region is a beautiful and rugged area of Italy, producing some of the country’s top wines.
This is home to the so-called Super Tuscans, red wines which are outside the normal production regulations for DOC (Denominazione d’Origine Controllata) but whose quality is outstanding.
Often this is due to ‘unauthorised’ grape varieties being used, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, rather than the indigenous Sangiovese. Wines such as Sassicaia and Ornellaia are revered the world over by fine wine connoisseurs and can fetch eye-watering prices.
Sometimes referred to as The Wild West being on the west coast of Italy it was a wild, swampy area, with viticulture only established in the 19th century. Even by the 1980s few foreigners had heard of the wines from the Maremma, being put firmly on the map by Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, founder of the fabulous Sassicaia, with the entrepreneurial vision to make a top Bordeaux-style wine in the Maremma region.
There are a number of other first-class reds deemed Super Tuscans, not all of which carry the high prices of their famous peers. Indeed, the Maremma region produces a host of different styles of wines – reds, whites and rosés. The wines from sub-region Bolgheri are currently making a name for themselves in terms of value for money and the red wines of Morellino di Scansano and Montecucco are favourites of mine.
The Maremma is a fast-emerging wine region with tremendous potential. I have been a fan of the wines from this region for over 20 years, both reds and also whites, such as Vermentino. White wines now account for just over 30 per cent of the region’s wines, with reds amounting to 64 per cent. But a little-known category from this area is rosé, increasing its share of the Maremma market to four per cent. These rosé wines are from red grape varieties such as Sangiovese, Syrah, Ciliegiolo, Alicante, Merlot and Aleatico.
As with many regions of Italy, some wines appear with a DOC nomenclature and others with IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica), but this has little or no influence on the quality of the wines produced. Illario Rosato della Maremma Toscana DOC 2020 is a pale pink from 100 per cent Sangiovese and certified organic vineyards, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea from a height of 1,000ft and made by Fattoria di Magliano. Intense raspberry and cherry notes on the nose and palate, with well-structured body and great freshness.
Tenuta Monteti Rosé 2020 on the other hand, is an IGT, made from 80 per cent Merlot and 20 per cent Cabernet Franc. The producer is located in the southern part of the Maremma, near the medieval village of Capalbio, with vineyards in sight of the sea 15km distant. An elegant rosé, with a pale onion-skin colour, it has notes of pink grapefruit, lime and pineapple, with a fresh, long finish.
Underlining the potential of the region, the Marchesi Mazzei family of wine producers, established in 1435 and based in the heart of Chianti Classico, has extended its activities to produce a rosé in Maremma at the Belguardo estate. At a height of 300 to 550ft above sea level, the vineyards benefit from cooling sea breezes and low-yielding soils, giving a fresh, pale, dry, elegant wine with strawberry and red cherry notes, firm underlying structure and juicy character. Made from 50 per cent Sangiovese and 50 per cent Syrah it is designated IGT.