🍷Tuscany is well-known for its extraordinary wines…Val takes us to an off-the-beaten track part of this region that you may not know about and may want to put on your list to visit the next time you’re in Italy!
🍷 Meandering in the Maremma 🍷
One early October day I made my way to Siena to meet up with a friend. He’d hired a driver to whisk us off to parts of Tuscany I’d mostly read about. I’d only written about and tasted wines from the Maremma, including the sangiovese-based Morellino di Scansano. But to spend the day winding through narrow roads and hillside towns was the stuff of off-the-beaten-path bliss.
My only other trip out this way was back in May. We visited Cinigiano, snuggled between Montalcino, Monte Amiato, and the hill city of Monticello.
At Campi Nuovi I barrel-tasted my first biodynamic, spontaneously fermented 2007 Montecucco DOC Riserva (Montecucco has since gained DOCG status). At about 1400 feet above sea level I stood among the vines, gazing westward toward the sea, face into the wind. I vowed to return to the Maremma.
That perfect Tuscan spring day was emblazoned in my mind as we rolled out of Siena. I was determined to feel that quiet rush again from another idyllic vineyard. However, the low-hanging clouds and cold drizzle threatened the movie I’d made in my head, and we strained to see villages hidden by low fog. The good news? Our first stop was Ampeleia, a winery where we’d reserved a tour and tasting.
About 30 miles inland from the Tyrrhenian Sea, Ampeleia’s vineyards are spread amongst three distinct altitudes and terroir. More good news – we were the only ones there!
We hopped into a truck and four-wheeled to the cabernet franc and merlot vines of the Ampeleia di Sopra, their highest vineyards with a stunning view of the massi (rocky outcrops) of Roccatederighi.
We love Ampeleia for their use of Mediterranean grapes, but they still honor the Tuscan sangiovese, which also grows in their Ampeleia di Mezzo vineyards. Closest to the sea are the Ampeleia di Sotto plots where Grenache and other Mediterranean varieties thrive. We also loved that by the time we got to the vertical tasting that Simona, their lovely sales director, had arranged, the blue returned to the autumn Tuscan sky.
We stocked up on favorite wines before ascending to Roccatederighi, a nearly desolate town carved into rocks. Not only was it not crawling with tourists, there was no one around but the three of us, a few kids in the churchyard, and a dog.
The views are some of the most spectacular one could experience in the Maremma. We caught a glint off the sea and a glimpse of the island of Elba in the distance. I sat on a rocky ledge seemingly in the middle of nowhere with the sun on my shoulders and, once again, face into the wind.
A brief stop in Massa Marittima for a light snack and another glass of wine (we had a driver, remember?) was the cherry on the cake of a perfect day. The sun set behind us as we trounced back through the Tuscan back roads, vowing, again to return to the Maremma.
Valerie Caruso, DWS, CWE, FWS, began her wine writing journey after retiring from her 25-year Air Force career. She graduated from professional wine and language schools in Italy and France, and now hosts the Wine Two Five podcast on iTunes and iHeartRadio. With fellow wine educator and Co-Host Stephanie Davis, she provide weekly doses of wine edu-tainment and can also be found at www.vinowithval.com and www.winetwofive.com.
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🍷I would love for you to share as well…tell us about one of your favorite wine trails or tales from Italy. 🍷