Just a few decades ago, if you asked any wine expert to name the preeminent winemaking regions of Tuscany, they would place Chianti Classico and the surrounding sub-zone of Chianti at the top of the list. This latter expanse includes the prestigious hilltop towns of Montalcino, birthplace of the Brunello grape and Montepulciano, producer of the renowned Vino Nobile. Along the Tuscan Coastline, a mere 60 miles away, lies the remote winemaking area of Maremma.
Most people had never heard of Maremma, but it was no secret to the local winemakers who knew its potential for producing quality Sangiovese. Eventually, this remote, obscure area would catch the attention of winemakers worldwide and turn the winemaking world on its ear. The hospitable climate and limestone-rich soils not only provided the right ingredients to grow Sangiovese, but what really made this area stand out was its ability to produce complex and expressive foreign varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.
The wines made from these foreign varietals were so phenomenal that the Italian winemakers forfeited their prized DOC and DOCG quality status to blend them into their Sangiovese wines. This earthshaking, revolutionary act in Italian winemaking marked the birth of the ‘Super Tuscan’ wine and Maremma was the epicenter. Antinori’s Sassicaia is one of the most celebrated wines from this region, helping to pave the way for a succession of these stylish wines over time. While Sangiovese wines from Chianti and Chianti Classico have established reputations, there are still unknown treasures yet to be discovered in the nearby hills of Maremma.
Annette Solomon, CS