04 November 2013

Morellino di Scansano

Morellino di Scansano is a newer wine region in coastal Tuscany, established as a DOC in 1978 and upgraded to DOCG in 2007. Like Chianti and Brunello, the backbone of the style is Sangiovese. Morellino seems to serve as a balance between tradition and the Super Tuscans: the wines must be at least 85% Sangiovese but the rest can come from other grapes, including French ones like Merlot. The baseline Morellino doesn't spend much time on oak and is released young, while the Riserva has to spend at least one year in the barrel and is not released until two years after harvest.

The color of the wine is surprising. Morellino means "little brown one", either a reference to a color of a horse in the region or the Morello cherry. It's also the name for the local clone of Sangiovese. There's a beautiful garnet hue that you don't often see in younger wines. Even though the 2008 has been resting for five years, it's a color that I've mostly seen in bottles that are at least ten years old.

Armed with crusty bread, nutty pecorino cheese, and a bit of prosciutto, I opened the following three wines on a rainy afternoon...

2010 Tenuta Pietramora di Colle Fagiano Petramora
Morellino di Scansano
85% Sangiovese, 15% Merlot
$15, 14% abv.

Bright red cherry profile, tart and snappy but with mild tannins and a quick finish. Quite refreshing and a great palate-opener. A great apéritif wine for a dinner party, where it should go well with lots of appetizers yet not overwhelm the tongue if you're going to be serving white wines with the first course.

2009 Fattoria le Pupille Poggio Valente Riserva
Morellino di Scansano
97% Sangiovese, 3% Merlot
$20, 14.5% abv.

This one has that rare aroma of pomegranate with a touch of vegetal, earthy darkness underneath. It has lower acidity than the first but with a softer mouthfeel. Medium tannins provide a bit more body and weight, meaning that it would stand up well to a nice roast duck.

2008 Mantellassi Le Sentinelle Riserva
Morellino di Scansano
85% Sangiovese, 15% Alicante (Grenache)
$23, 14% abv.

Nice earth tones on the nose, giving way to the scent of dark plum. The body and tannins are very similar to the Poggio Valente, though with another year of aging it's a bit softer and shows better balance. I found myself craving venison, and since deer season is coming up, I may get a chance to cook another sirloin roast depending on how successful my friends are this winter. And given the opportunity, I think I'll be searching the local shelves for another Morellino.

Note: These wines were provided as samples.

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