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Posted: Monday, 18 January 2021 18:45

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Maremma Toscana DOC: Little known Secret of Tuscan Wine Regions

Jan 18: Maremma Toscana DOC is a relatively new wine region on the west coast of Tuscany in the Province of Grosseto. Formed in 2011, it is the 3rd largest region of Tuscany, known for using a significant quantity of international grapes, denoting varietals on most of its bottles and was even allowed last month to indicate bivarietals on the label, writes Subhash Arora who feels it has a variety of styles and unique soil, making it a very interesting wine region with a big potential for future

Ask any Italian lover or a wine connoisseur in India, he has surely heard of Florence and Tuscany -perhaps has even visited a few wineries in Chianti Classico, Chianti, Montepulciano or Montalcino wine regions. But mention Maremma and you might draw a blank from a majority. Reason? Maremma, was practically unknown to foreigners until a couple of decades ago, when it started earning respect for a variety of wines, especially from international grape varieties, though often blended with the local ones as well.

Maremma has been alarge coastal area in Tuscany on the West Coast. It used to be very marshy. In fact, its name derives from the Spanish word Marisma. meaning 'marsh'. The well-known Italian writer and philosopher Dante Alighieri (of Dante’s Inferno fame) described during Renaissance the area having thick bushes and trees, with wild animals on the horrible sands. It has been drained by Etruscans and then Romans for centuries to make it cultivable.

Its soil was found to be suitable by the wine producers about 3 decades ago. The land was cheap and there was a flux of producers from Tuscany and other parts of Italy. A significant number of successful Tuscan wine producers started investing in this region, making the land expensive. Maremma Toscana used to be an IGT region from 1995, a few years after the classification was introduced in 1992, and upgraded to DOC in 2011.

Ornellaia, Famiglia Cecchi, Mazzei, Nitardi are a few of the wineries owned by Tuscans but the list is long and available on their website. You may also visit several of the internationally renowned wineries in the adjoining Bolgheri-also a part of bigger Maremma where you find Tenuta San Guido (Sassicaia), Gaja (Ca’Marcanda), Tenuta Guado Al Tasso, a few of the wineries known for their Super Tuscans.   

Grapes of Maremma

The denomination Maremma Toscana DOC includes the province of Grosseto and was created in 2011. The Maremma Toscana DOC are made mainly from grapes such as Trebbiano Toscano, Vermentino, Malvasia Bianca, Sangiovese, Ciliegiolo, Ansonica, Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Alicante grapes, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Black Canaiolo, Merlot, Syrah, Viognier. There is also a generic variety Cabernet that includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Carmenere.

Maremma Toscana Wine Styles

Maremma Toscana DOC is the 3rd largest appellation in Tuscany covering a variety of wine styles.  It was in the news last month when the Association of local producers, Consorzio Tutela Vini della Maremma Toscana took a lead in getting permission for labelling of two varietals in a blend. This is the first among Tuscan PDOs (Protected Designation of Origin) to mention a bivarietal on a label. Though the Consortium had applied for this change in 2016, the legal permission came in mid-December, 2020.

In the bivarietal labelling authorized for red and white wine, the first named variety may account for 50 to 85 percent and the balance out of permitted varieties mentioned above. Producers are allowed to label their wines without naming a varietal also.

The Rosso and Bianco may also be released as a Riserva which must be aged for at least one year before release. The Rosso variant needs to be matured for at least two years, with six months in the barrel. In addition, there can be Rosso Novello, on the lines of Beaujolais Nouveau which can be released early for immediate drinking.

Vendemmia Tardiva (late harvest) sweet wines are made as Bianco or any of the white single varieties permitted. Passito may also be produced from dried grapes. The Tuscan popular Vin Santo is also available in Toscana Maremma. It contains a minimum of 40 % of Malvasia and/or Tuscan Trebbiano and has to be aged for a minimum of 26 months in a barrel.

To get a proper perspective, Tuscan wines are mostly a blend of grapes-glaring exceptions are Brunello di Montalcino which uses 100% Brunello (Sangiovese) grapes and Vernaccia di San Gimignano which generally uses only Vernaccia. As elsewhere in most Italy, the wines are generally described simply by the name, for instance, Chianti Classico, Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano which use the local Sangiovese as majority grape in the blend but add other specified grape blends (in recent years, Chianti and Chianti Classico have also allowed 100% Sangiovese grape in the wines but only the DOCG may be mentioned on the label. In that sense, it is a modern step since the overseas consumers usually like to know the varietals they are drinking.

Although it is not a specialty in Tuscany, Spumante styled sparkling wines are also included in the portfolio of Toscana Maremma DOC. These bubbles may be vinified either of the two methods- Metodo Classico (second fermentation in the bottle, like champagne) or Charmat (Tank Method).

The Maremma wine region is the third biggest appellation in Tuscany with a wide diversity in wine styles. It was traditionally a large coastal area in Tuscany. Thus in its natural state the region of Maremma Toscana is a marshy yet fertile piece of land. The land has been drained multiple times to make it cultivable,

Visit some of the finest wineries of Maremma Toscana next time you are in Tuscany for a refreshingly different experience. Interestingly, the Maremma area also includes two other appellations-  Morellino di Scansano DOCG and Montecucco Sangiovese DOC. The flexibility of Maremma’s wine regulations makes it stand apart from other wine regions of Tuscany and has becoming an experimental playing field for creative producers.

It has an array of wines known throughout the world for their prestige and distinction. Maremma’s quintessential style is set apart from the rest due to its soil types, the selection of grape varieties and the specific production methods of winemakers in the area, defining a style found nowhere else in Italy.

Consorzio Tutela Vini Della Maremma Toscana  

Established in 2014, Consorzio Tutela Vini della Maremma Toscana is one of the newest Consortiums in Italy with the aim of promoting the quality of its wines and ensuring that all the regulations are adequately followed. It is also dedicated to protect the brand and support its members with regard to the regulations governing the sector. (A usual practice with the Consortiums in Italy-editor). Francesco Mazzei, is currently the President.

It will be a good opportunity for wine importers and discerning consumers in India to try these wines and visit the area- reachable from Rome and Florence in a couple of hours by car. For details, visit www.consorziovinimaremma.it.

Also Read Tuscany Taste: Anteprime of Tuscan wines from 8 Areas

Subhash Arora

 

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