Behind every bottle of good wine, there is a huge amount of work: years of experience, labour and plenty of passion perhaps because wine is not only a matter of taste but it’s all about our emotions too. It’s an endless task, but in autumn the workload is particularly intense due to the grape harvest.
In Tuscany, there is a type of grape that has been called the very essence of the region: Sangiovese, which is the main ingredient in Tuscany’s most famous wines, such as Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. In Southern Tuscany, close to the sea, Sangiovese grapes are used to make Morellino di Scansano wine, a very young but surprisingly good DOCG.
Morellino di Scansano is produced in the hills around Grosseto and contains at least 85% Sangiovese grapes (locally the grape is called Morellino: the same name used to call local horses). Morellino is a ruby red coloured wine with an intense smell and a warm, rather tannic flavor. Reserve status is given to wines that have aged for two years, one year of which must have been in wooden barrels.
The Maremma region hosts historical family farms which produce excellent Morellino di Scansano thanks to their great attention to detail. At the Val delle Rose estate, for example, there are vineyards dedicated exclusively to Morellino di Scansano Riserva production. The harvest is done from the beginning of September until the first half of October, but for the Morellino riserva only the smaller and mature bunches are picked.
After harvesting, grapes go through a reception tank into a stemmer, which removes the grapes from the rachis (the stem that holds the grapes).
Then grapes are carried into large tanks, where they will be crushed mechanically two to three times a day for several months, leaving the skins in contact with the juice throughout the fermentation.
High-quality technology is used for both for the harvest and the wine-making. Only French oak barrels can contain the wine, which remains dormant in majestic “cantine”. Wineries are works of modern architecture, sweet-scented spaces that seem to have been created for futuristic movies.
When I think of Morellino what comes to mind is the dry land and the cool breeze, the fine wine cellar, the vineyards and the sea beyond, the sun that warms the soul, a horse running in the rolling hills, the fresh fish, the sea salt. I think of millions of sweet, round, dark and perfect grapes, as perfect as the work of the passionate wine producers in the Maremma.
Photos taken during the Cecchi harvest blog tour at Val delle Rose