I love my jobs – that doesn’t mean I love every minute of each workday, but I’m pretty thrilled with both archaeology and the wine and food business. So, that makes it all the better to be able to put them together. This is a pretty easy task in Italy, where the archaeology is never far from either wine or food – or the beach. While in Italy, my weekdays are spent on-site at the Cosa excavations, while my weekends are given over to exploration of the Maremma, as well as the occasional foray further into Tuscany.
I’ve visited wineries in the area previously, as well as written about Maremman wines I’ve tasted-but-not-visited, and gone to others that I’ve never written about (the super-delicious Ranchelle!). This year, I visited a few new wineries, and now have some new favorites!
This was the surprise of the season! I had wanted to visit a winery on Monte Argentario, and selected Poderi di Capo d’Uomo after I had gotten lost trying to go to the restaurant, Dai Frati .
I am so glad I got lost! The backroads on the west side of Monte Argentario, between Porto Ercole and Porto Santo Stefano, are winding, steep, narrow… and stunning. A few years earlier, I had enjoyed the single most-beautiful sunset I have ever seen in that same region, at the Hotel Torre di Cala Piccola. But, I was not prepared for the great wines of Capo d’Uomo.
The drive was scary (though beautiful), there is almost no parking or amenities at the tasting room, and I wasn’t even sure the place was open. Fortunately there were two people in the drive (turned out to be Ilio Fabbri and his nephew) who informed me they were, indeed, open. Ilio is charged with oversight of the grapes and production, and was a joy with whom to taste the wines.
There are 3 ha planted on terraces overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, with Sangiovese, Ansonica, Traminer, Cabernet Sauv, and Merlot. They carry the Maremma Toscana IGT appellation, rather than Monte Argentario, largely for greater freedom. I liked all the wines, but had some clear favorites.
The Africo (Latin for the Libeccio wind) is made with Vermentino and Traminer and has super melon and green-almond notes. Traminer adds floral notes to the largely minerally, saline Vermentino, and the juice spends a few months on its lees. The resulting wine is fresh, well-rounded, and balanced.
Maisto (Latin for the Maestrale wind) is made with Sangiovese, Cab, and Merlot. It spends 12 months in barrique, and a further 3 in cement eggs. The wine has notes of dark-purple fruits, brambles, and tobacco, with an elegant mouth-feel and finish.
The sangiovese-based rosé was outstanding – but sold out! It tasted of roses and wild strawberries, with ample acid and brine.
I made a visit to Moris Farms on the advice of John Toler of Dreadnought Wines, who distributes their products in Pennsylvania. The winery is located near the town of Massa Marittima, though with vineyards also in Montecucco and Scansano regions.
This was one of my most fun visits, as it coincided with a group of Italians from a social, wine-group called Go Wine. Members have frequent wine-based gatherings with their local chapters, and then have larger, national trips a few times a year. This group was on a “Maremma” trip, which started with a wine lunch at Moris Farms. Our host, Ranieri, asked the group if I could join and they graciously agreed. I was sat with wine drinkers from Savona, Rome, Basilicata… and had a really enjoyable time. In between courses of charcuterie and pappardelle, we sampled some great wines.
It was really interesting to hear others’ opinions of the wines, too. I was one of the few whose “favorite” white was the Vermentino rather than the Ansonica-based Santa Chiara. Both are excellent, but I really enjoyed the fuller-bodied Vermentino made a touch headier with 10% Viognier. The Ansonica (and Trebbiano) is light, acidic, and very fresh.
The reds are sangiovese based (of course!) and bear the trademarks of the grape in these regions: the Morellino di Scansano (DOCG) has bright cherry, is lively and lighter-bodied; the Montegreggio di Massa Marittima (DOC) is darker and a little heavier; the Avvoltore (Maremma Toscana IGT) – their “flagship” – is smooth, elegant, and fruity, falling somewhat between the other two in body and fruit characters.
This is one winery I had intended to visit all along, as I’ve always been obsessed with their “Santippe” wine – and love the labels! When I finally got out to the winery in Arcille, just outside of Scansano, I was devastated to find out that they no longer make Santippe. But, the same wine is now made under a different label: Torello. Devestation averted!
I got to the winery early – about 10am – and the tasting room was opened for me. Umberto Valle, though busy with other tasks, took the time to come out to talk and answer questions; that was very much appreciated and definitely added to my tasting experience.
I have had these wines in the States – and have sold them and featured them in tastings at Jet Wine Bar – so I thought I knew what to except. As typically happens when tasting with the producer, my expectations were totally exceeded. The young, 2017 Passera (Morellino di Scansano DOCG) is delightful – showing the typical freshness and bright cherry of the type. This was followed by a darker and more rustic style, the Du Galli, of the same vintage and appellation. The Torello (Maremma Toscana IGT) – the old “Santippe” – still bears the wild strawberry notes that l adore. We finished with a reserve Morellino from 2015 that included Cabernet and Garnacha in the blend. This wine is full, fruity, and luscious.
The Poggio Trevvalle wines are by far the best value of those I tasted. The wines are flavorful and well-constructed, and mostly cost between 10-15 euro/bottle.
I didn’t visit Parrina so much as stopped at their cantina and bought wines in my quest to taste every appellation in the Maremma. Also, I have passed by this place a million times and never stopped!
Frankly, I just grabbed a few bottles and left, to drink over the next week or so. This I did, quite often with peanuts! Bizarrely – given my appellation goal – I failed to purchase the Parrina Bianco DOC. But, I did quite enjoy the fairly tropical and nutty Ansonica Costa dell’ Argentario. Talk about great with peanuts…! I purchased more of it when I spied some in the Orbetello grocery store. I was less excited by their reds, which were heavy and pruney for the season. I definitely want to return and purchase more of the Ansonica, and also try the other whites – especially the Parrina Bianco.
If you find these in a store – grab them! Otherwise the wineries are well worth seeking out whilst in Tuscany.