Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Holiday Time Is Time for Morellino Di Scansano

by Dwight Casimere

NEWYORK—Corkbuzz Wine Studio in New York’s famed Union Square was the scene of the Second U.S. tour of Consorzio Tutela Morellino di Scansano D.O.C.G., “Tuscany In A Glass.”
Corkbuzz is the epicenter of wine appreciation and education.  Owned and operated by Master Sommelier Laura Maniec with menu pairings by Executive Chef Hayan Yi, Corkbuzz is a great place to hang out, enjoy a glass of wine and share a bowl of pasta or sample hamachi crudo in a living room setting. With over 50 wines by the glass and 200 bottles covering the gamut of regions and styles, it’s the perfect place to learn about wine in a casual, unpretentious atmosphere.

Morellino is one of the great “undiscovered” regions of Tuscany. It is one of Italy’s hidden gems in one of the most charming regions of Tuscany. Somewhat unknown to most wine drinkers in America, the history of Morellino dates back to antiquity. Its distinguished reds, made from the pre-eminent Sangiovese grape is among the most distinguished wines produced in the hilly area around the medieval village of Scansano. 

Morellino is the local name for the grape varietal. Although the origin of the name is today unknown, scholars believe it refers to the word morello, which means “the little dark one,” referring to the color of the horses unique to the coastal district of Maremma where the DOCG is located. Its unique microclimate, altitude and volcanic soil produce grapes and wines of distinction.

Scansano underwent massive development in the 1500s and became one of the most important territories in the hills of Maremma. By the 1800s, it became renowned as a grape-growing and winemaking region, thanks to the groundbreaking work of two agronomists, the Vannuccini brothers.

The Consorzio Tutela Vino Morellino di Scansano was created in 1992 to regulate and product the production of quality wines in the region and educate producers and consumers. Their point was made with stunning clarity at the Corkbuzz event, with a presentation by wine educator and Master Sommelier Charlie Arturaola and a small plates walk-around tasting featuring producers from the region who poured their wines on at the event.

Here is a sampling of the wines tasted and their flavor profiles from this year and from last year’s tastings. It is interesting to see how they have evolved with a little age on them:

Fattoria Le Pupille Morellino di Scansano 2010 DOCG $18

A blend of 90% Sangiovese with 10% Malvasia Nera, this is a beautifully rich, complex and full-bodied red wine.  It’s a terrific food wine that will match perfectly with savory Holiday foods such as Sage-roasted Turkey, Standing Rib Roast and rich, dark chocolate desserts.

Terre di Fiori Morellino di Scansano DOCG 2010 $15.99

A straightforward 100% Sangiovese. I would put this superior wine up against any of the better known Chianti Classico wines. The difference is that, because of its virtually unknown presence in the U.S.  market, it’s a fraction of the price. A big, robust wine, great with Prime Rib, game meats, such as a Christmas Goose or heavy Sage-dressed Turkey.

La Selva Morellino di Scansano 2011 DOCG $19.99

This 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot varietal is well integrated and complex. It is also the only one of the wines that is certified organic. A true expression of the terroir, this one is a also a great choice for the holidays.

Azienda Bruni Riserva Laire 2008 DOCG $30

This 85% Sangiovese and 15% Syrah wine was a real knockout. Richer and more layered than the other wines, it can be paired with both rich and roasted meats but also with dessert. An interesting play on Morellino, it would appeal to a number of hearty red drinkers.

Fattoria Mantellassi
Morellino di Scansano
San Guiseppe DOCG 2009  $13.99

A blend of 85% Sangiovese with 15% Canaiolo and Cabernet Sauvignon, this is a rich, complex and full-bodied red wine. Mantellassi was the first family to bottle the Morellino in 1977. They also produce fresh, crisp white wines that reflect the volcanic mineral terroir of the region from the native white grape variety Vermentino, another terrific and versatile Holiday choicer. The wines are an exceptional value.

Conte Ferdinando Guicciardini
Morellino di Scansano DOCG 2009  $18

A straightforward 100% Sangiovese and is aged for a year in the barrel, this wine has plenty of sweet spice on the nose and a fruity dominance that makes it pleasant to drink. Full and powerful with plenty of integrated wood and fruit, it makes for a terrific mouth filling experience at the Holiday table. Not a lot of this wine was produced so, if you find it at your local shop, grab a case for now for the family “tribe” at the Holiday table and save a few bottles for later for personal enjoyment!

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