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Central Italy - Top Producers of the Coast

DK Publishing's logoDK Publishing 02-07-2014 DKBooks

Moris Farms

Top Producers of the Coast

Castello del Terriccio - Pisa/IGT

location: via Bagnoli 20, Castellina Marittima
telephone number: 050 699709
website: www.terriccio.it
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red
best vintages: 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1995
recommended wines: Toscana IGT: Tassinaia, Lupicaia

Besides having the longest name in Tuscan winemaking, Gian Annibale Rossi di Medelana Serafini Ferri has one of the longest extended runs of five-star vintages in the region. His track record is testimony to the benign climate of these low hills facing the Tuscan coast and to the standards established by consultant winemaker Carlo Ferrini back in the early 1990s, when he came to Terriccio in his first job. Ferrini, now Tuscany’s most sought-after consultant, continues to supervise the red wines made here, all of which are IGT. Lupicaia, the Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot senior label, is renowned for an almost antipodean note of eucalyptus. The second label, Tassinaia, is a softer, earlier-drinking wine. In recent vintages, Ferrini has begun to add a drop of Merlot to the basic Cabernet Sauvignon-Sangiovese blend.

Tenuta di Ghizzano - Pisa/IGT

location: via della Chiesa 13, Ghizzano di Peccioli
telephone number: 0587 630096
website: www.tenutadighizzano.com
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red
best vintages: 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997
recommended wines: Rosso Toscana IGT: Veneroso, Nambrot

This aristocratic estate made a splash in the mid-1980s with a Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon blend called Veneroso in the rich and velvety style of Antinori’s Tignanello. It subsequently went through an uneventful phase until Luca D’Attoma and then current consultant Carlo Ferrini injected life back into the winemaking through much stricter grape selection and fine-tuning of the oak aging. Merlot has now become a key Ghizzano variety, lending plummy ripeness to the Veneroso and forming the basis of the prize-winning Bordeaux-style blend Nambrot.

Le Macchiole - Bolgheri/IGT

location: loc Contessine, via Bolgherese 189/A, Bolgheri
telephone number: 0565 766092
website: www.lemacchiole.it
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red
best vintages: 1999, 1998, 1997, 1995
recommended wines: Bolgheri Rosso Superiore Paleo; Rosso Toscana IGT: Messorio, Scrio

Eugenio Campolmi used to run a general store until his passion for wine led him to found this model estate in 1981. After his death in 2002, his wife Cinzia took over. The winemaking mastermind at work here is consultant Luca D’Attoma. The original flagship label was Paleo, but what has launched the estate into the new wave elite in Tuscany are two micro-production red wines—Messorio (Merlot) and Scrio (Syrah)—that achieved instant cult status when they came out in the late 1990s. The style revolves around big, concentrated fruit flavors superbly blended with oak.

Michele Satta - Bolgheri/IGT

location: loc Vigna al Cavaliere 61, Castagneto Carducci
telephone number: 0565 773041
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red, white
best vintages: 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997
recommended wines: Costa di Giulia Bianco Toscana IGT, Bolgheri Rosso Piastraia

Michele Satta is an independent producer whose winery has grown up in the shadow of the big league estates Ornellaia and San Guido. His early production centered around the traditional white Vermentino and red Sangiovese, but through the 1990s he became more ambitious, with high-density plantings of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. His top red Bolgheri Rosso Piastraia combines these three grapes in a full-bodied and original wine with jammy fruit and soft tannins. The IGT Costa di Giulia is a ripe, melon-flavored white made from a novel blend of Vermentino and Sauvignon Blanc.

Tenuta dell’Ornellaia - Bolgheri/IGT

location: via Bolgherese 191, Bolgheri
telephone number: 0565 762410
website: www.ornellaia.it
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red
best vintages: 1999, 1998, 1997, 1995
recommended wines: Bolgheri Rosso Superiore Ornellaia, Masseto Toscana IGT

Ludovico Antinori founded this 70-ha estate on land that, together with the Tenuta San Guido of Sassicaia fame and Piero Antinori’s Guado al Tasso, originally stretched over much of Bolgheri. Through the 1980s and most of the 90s, Ornellaia was the only producer on the Tuscan coast to make wines comparable with Sassicaia. The futuristic architecture at Ornellaia has a distinct Californian look, but the wines are Bordeaux-inspired. The estate-name label is a deep, soft Bolgheri DOC made from Cabernet-Merlot. The limited production IGT wine Masseto—coveted by collectors worldwide—is just Merlot. Compared with its eternal rival Sassicaia, the style is more upfront, with more immediate fruit and earlier-drinking tannins. Its form since 1995 has been faultless. In 2002, the estate was bought by Robert Mondavi of California and the Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi.

Sassicaia: In a league of its own

website: www.sassicaia.com

In the 1950s, Tuscan aristocrat landowner Mario Incisa della Rocchetta took Cabernet Sauvignon cuttings from Château Lafite in Bordeaux. He planted them in a vineyard called Sassicaia on his Tenuta San Guido estate in Bolgheri to make wine for the family. When, in the 1960s, Rocchetta’s nephew Piero Antinori—head of wine firm Antinori—tasted the wine, he was bowled over, and persuaded his uncle to start selling it. He also sent him Antinori oenologist Giacomo Tachis to help with the winemaking. In 1978, Rocchetta’s wine came out top in a historic tasting of the world’s leading Cabernets in London, and has never looked back. Sassicaia is arguably Italy’s greatest wine. Its class and longevity—vintages like 1985 are still perfect today—give it investment ratings comparable with the best bordeaux. The other best vintages are 1988, 1995, 1997, and 1999. The blend is around 85 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and 15 percent Cabernet Franc. The style is silky and discreet, intensely flavored, dry, and long. It is a wine that needs five or six years before it starts to deliver. Sassicaia has had its own DOC (Bolgheri Sassicaia) since 1994.

Tenuta Guado al Tasso - Bolgheri

location: loc Belvedere, Bolgheri
telephone number: 0565 749735
website: www.antinori.it
wine styles: red, rosé
best vintages: 1999, 1998, 1997
recommended wines: Bolgheri Rosso Superiore Guado al Tasso

This 200-ha Antinori property south of Bolgheri fulfills a double role for the giant Florentine producer. It is the source of significant quantities of a fruity rosé called Bolgheri Rosato, which is made from Sangiovese, and a lightly perfumed white Vermentino. It also supplies Antinori with their version of the more serious new generation reds, based on Bordeaux varieties. Guado al Tasso is a classy, medium-bodied wine with Cabernet Sauvignon fruit and a touch of toasty oak.

Gualdo del Re - Maremma/Val di Cornia

location: loc Notri 77, Suvereto
telephone number: 0565 829888
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red
best vintages: 1999, 1998
recommended wines: Val di Cornia: I’Rennero Suvereto, Federico Primo

Owner Nico Rossi has switched from blends to varietals for his top red, and he has also dropped IGT labels in favor of the up-and-coming Val di Cornia DOC. Federico Primo is now made exclusively with Cabernet Sauvignon and I’Rennero with Merlot. These are powerful, spicy wines with a lot of depth. Limited production makes them hard to find, but they are worth seeking out. Gualdo del Re also produces a respectable Val di Cornia DOC wine.

Le Pupille - Maremma/Morellino & IGT

location: piagge del Maiano 92/A, Istia d’Ombrone
telephone number: 0564 409517
website: www.elisabettageppetti.com
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red
best vintages: 1999, 1998, 1997
recommended wines: Morellino di Scansano, Morellino di Scansano Poggio Valente, Saffredi Maremma Toscana IGT

Le Pupille has one of the classiest ranges in the Maremma, from the basic label Morellino di Scansano DOC to the two top-end selections: Morellino di Scansano Poggio Valente and Saffredi IGT. The single vineyard Poggio Valente, made from the Sangiovese-based DOC blend, has the combination of weight and plummy fruit that is the classic feature of southern Tuscany. Saffredi, on the other hand, takes a Bordeaux theme, with the local accent provided by the rich, broad tannins of the Alicante variety.

Montepeloso - Maremma/IGT

location: loc Montepeloso, Suvereto
telephone number: 0565 828180
wine styles: red
best vintages: 2000, 1999, 1998
recommended wines: Toscana IGT: Gabbro, Nardo

Like several of its illustrious neighbors, Montepeloso started out as a hobby estate. With the arrival of the ambitious current owner Fabio Chiarelotto, however, things started to get much more scientific, both in the vineyard and in the cellar. He delivers the power typical of wines from this corner of the Maremma and also adds a touch of elegance and definition, which can be missing in southern Tuscany. Nardo is 90 percent Sangiovese with a top-off of Cabernet Sauvignon. Gabbro is all Cabernet. Both are superb IGT wines, although with production of less than 3,000 bottles, they are pricy and hard to find.

Moris Farms - Maremma/Morellino di Scansano

location: loc Curanuova, Fattoria Poggetti, Massa Marittima
telephone number: 0566 919135
website: www.morisfarms.it
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red
best vintages: 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997
recommended wines: Morellino di Scansano, Avvoltore Maremma Toscana IGT

Moris farms, an Italian-owned winery despite the English name, set up in the Maremma before the area became fashionable, which means that it is a few steps ahead of the new generation of estates. The Morellino DOC wine is plummy, dry, and excellent value. Avvoltore was the prototype Maremma Super-Tuscan IGT wine and remains one of the best in this category. With a drop of Syrah added to the original Sangiovese-Cabernet mix for extra spice, this is a wine that offers plenty of color and big, ripe fruit aromas.

Poggio Argentiera - Maremma/Morellino di Scansano

location: loc Banditella di Alberese, Grosseto
telephone number: 0564 405099
website: www.poggioargentiera.com
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red
best vintages: 2000, 1999
recommended wines: Morellino di Scansano Capatosta, Morellino di Scansano Bellamarsilia

Poggio Argentiera is one of the first of the Maremma estates founded in the 1990s to really hit its stride. While other new producers focus on international grape varieties, owner-winemaker Gianpaolo Paglia has remained faithful to the local Morellino di Scansano DOC blend of Sangiovese and Alicante. His Morellino Capatosta is a rich Mediterranean-style red with barrow loads of fruit and spice, and plenty of mouth feel. The slightly less concentrated second label Bellamarsilia is only half a rung below it on the quality ladder.

Russo - Maremma/Val di Cornia

location: via Forni 71, Suvereto
telephone number: 0565 845105
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red
best vintages: 2000, 1999, 1998
recommended wines: Val di Cornia Suvereto Rosso Riserva Barbicone

Michele and Antonio Russo, new on the wine scene in Suvereto, are backing the traditional grapes, like Sangiovese and Canaiolo, rather than major international varieties. Their new Riserva Barbicone, made with the help of consultant oenologist and Sangiovese expert Alberto Antonini, is made from the classic Chianti blend of Sangiovese-Canaiolo. It combines the punchy quality of the local soils with authentic Tuscan fruit and flower aromas, and guaranteed aging potential.

Tua Rita - Maremma/IGT

location: loc Notri 1, Suvereto
telephone number: 0565 829237
winery open to public: by appt
wine styles: red
best vintages: 1999, 1998, 1997, 1995, 1990
recommended wines: Toscana IGT: Giusto di Notri, Redigaffi

This boutique winery started out as a retirement retreat and went on to spearhead the development of one of Tuscany’s fastest growing and most exciting wine zones around the village of Suvereto. Stefano Chioccioli has now taken over from Luca D’Attoma, the winemaker who launched the estate in the early 1990s, but the Tua Rita style remains as powerful and concentrated as ever. Giusto di Notri IGT is a Cabernet-Merlot blend with inky tannins and enormous depth. Redigaffi IGT is a rich Merlot of top international quality but minute production.

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