The SOMM Journal

February / March 2016

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Page 90 of 132

90 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } FEBRUARY/MARCH 2016 Still in the Maremma, but just North and East of Morellino, lies the landlocked, fairly mountainous region of Montecucco. The two regions actually share a border, so there are definite similarities to the wines, and if a comparison can be made regard- ing style, then the wines of Montecucco would align more with the Morellino wines from that region's eastern area. However, Montecucco also shares a border with Montalcino, home to Brunello, so there are some producers on Montecucco's west- ern edge that make wines that are every bit as good, and age-worthy, as their more famous neighbors across the d'Orcia River. By comparison to Morellino, most of Montecucco's producers are making small amounts of wine and maintain small vineyards, of which approximately 70% are organically farmed. All are indepen- dent and, interestingly, some, like Campi Nuovi's Daniele Rosellini, have settled in Montecucco to start their own "dream" wineries after working for someone else in another region of Tuscany. Even the larg- est, Collemassari, nestled in a 3,000-acre estate owned by Claudio Tipa, and which bottles 80% of the approximately 1.2 mil- lion DOCG Montecucco wines made, has a small feel to it. Tipa, who along with his sister Maria also owns wineries in Montalcino and Bolgheri, was instrumental in gaining DOCG status for the region, which it achieved in 2011, and which in his words was "an important step to gaining international recognition for Montecucco and the Sangiovese of Monte Amiata." Production and Labelling DOCG requirements for Morellino dic- tate the wines must contain a minimum of 85% Morellino to be labeled as such. For Montecucco, the minimum requirement for DOCG labeling is 90% Sangiovese, though many producers are making 100%. In both regions most producers are using both native grapes such as Alicante, Canniolo, and Ciliegiolo, and international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot as well as Syrah to make up the balance. Standard releases for each region include a Normale, main bottling from a producer under the DOCG classification, and a Riserva, usually made in better years or from unique and/or older vineyards. While the Normale are meant to be drunk within a few years, many of the Riservas show aging potential well past that. Many producers are also bottling Toscana IGT wines from international grape varieties, and there are a grow- ing number of producers making Super Tuscan style wines, as well. However, it's the approachable and versatile DOCG labeled wines that are driving the growth in popularity and distribution. This is exactly the appeal of Morellino di Scansano and Montecucco for somme- liers such as Joe Cuvo of Del Posto, the New York temple to Italian cuisine owned by Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali, who also produce a Morellino of their own. "Morellino di Scansano's ripeness and softer tannins make it immediately acces- sible, and Montecucco's precise wines, even with their slightly more full-bodied style, are, as well," says Cuvo, who while admitting his sales are limited, finds that both sell very well to certain demograph- ics, such as Millennials. "Younger patrons in particular, tend to gravitate towards the softer expression and approachable price- point that the wines from Montecucco and Morellino offer," he adds. Good news for these two exciting regions, both of which are worth look- ing into as they work their well-made wines deeper into the U.S. wine-buying consciousness. Montecucco Member producers of the Consorzio Tutela Montecucco in the cellar at Collemassari. Claudio Tipa is at the lower right in red fleece. Umberto Valle of Poggio Trevvalle winery, who produces only biodynamic wines from his certified organic vineyards, which uniquely straddle both DOCG regions. While he produces some of the best wines in the area from some of the oldest vineyards, "there is nothing special about my wines," he says. Giulio Parentini of Moris Farms. Founded in 1971, it is one of the older wineries of Morellino di Scansano. PHOTO COURTESY OF CONSORZIO TUTELA MONTECUCCO PHOTO BY DAVID RANSOM PHOTO BY DAVID RANSOM

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