Driving into Maremma in a jet-lagged stupor I am jarred into wakefulness as I witness a falcon struggling to gain altitude with a still-writhing snake in her talons. It’s all a bit ‘wild kingdom’ for 10 am on a Tuesday, but a fitting beginning for my first visit to this lesser-known deep southern edge of Tuscany. Historically, Maremma was known as a coastal wilderness boasting a high incidence of malaria, not winemaking. Not so today, where, in the northern reaches of Maremma, Italy’s winemaking royalty (Antinori and Frescobaldi among others) cultivate and produce internationally acclaimed Bordeaux blends.
But, I am not in northern Maremma, I am near its deep southern edge, almost precisely half-way between Rome and Florence. Sinuous vine-covered hillsides look like freshly pressed corduroy, and tourists are scarce. Here winemakers are flirting with the potential of Sangiovese and the results are impressively intriguing. According to Andrea Cecchi, owner of Maremma’s Val Della Rose winery (among others in Tuscany), the southern part of Maremma is finally coming into its own and bringing Sangiovese, along with Bordeaux blends, into the spotlight.
Cecchi notes that many who visit here come for the quiet beaches, hiking, scenery, and wildlife. Wine, he adds, is a relatively recent (relative to other parts of Italy) development, but gaining a foothold. The DOCG in this region of Maremma is Morellino di Scansano, which roughly translates as the Sangiovese of Scansano–the nearby village. The wines from this appellation must contain 85% Sangiovese and to be labeled a ‘riserva’ the wine must have spent at least one year aged in barrel.
Cecchi’s family has a long and storied history in Tuscany. They produce exceptional Chianti Classico wines from their winery near Siena but their best-selling wine, La Mora Morellino di Scansano, is from Maremma—not Chianti. In fact, La Mora is Italy’s #1 DOCG wine in Italian retail markets. The wines from this part of Maremma, like those of Chianti, are primarily composed of Sangiovese, but here the seaside soils produce fruit that creates more approachable, fruity and lush wines—wines that Italians like to call “Tutto Pasto” (perfect for enjoying throughout the meal). Playful, pleasing and sunny these wines are wildly popular and still a nice value—for now. Says Cecchi, “My father understood the potential of this appellation as a destination for wine. Previously, wineries would just use the juice from Maremma for other bottlings in Tuscany. Now the wines have their own claim to prestige.”
If you can go in person, which I highly recommend, the Val Delle Rose winery is open daily for tastings and tours. You’ll love the Frank Lloyd Wright architecturally inspired winemaking facility. Tastings in the winery’s wine bar are accompanied by local Tuscan delights—and of course by sweeping views of this wild region. For more information on touring the region the Visit Tuscany website is a great resource. Val Della Rose is open daily throughout the year, but Sundays require a reservation. If you want to preview the wines before going below are Cecchi’s Maremma wines currently sold in the USA:
La Mora Morellino di Scansano Riserva Cecchi
La Mora Morellino di Scansano Cecchi
Aurelio Maremma Toscana, Val Delle Rose
In 2018 you will also be able to find their vibrant, juicy white: La Mora Vermentino, and their entry-level Maremma red: La Mora Maremma Toscana