Central Tuscany: Maremma, Montepulciano and Beyond


This year I tasted more wines than ever before from the various appellations that comprise Central Tuscany. A rediscovery of indigenous varieties, greater focus on sustainable farming and the continued emergence of small, artisan estates is resulting in a wider range of wines across all styles than at any time in the past that I can remember. Readers will find everything from the racy, international wines of the coast to small production Syrahs made with whole clusters and aged in terra cotta, and everything in between.

Cinzia Merli and her team headed by winemaker Luca Rettondini (to the right) and son Mattia (below) made some of the most memorable wines in Le Macchiole’s history in 2016


2016 Maremma – Readers will not want to miss the 2016s from Maremma. It is a vintage to buy with confidence across the board and deep. The best 2016s are magnificent, complete wines loaded with personality. The balanced growing season produced wines of tremendous nuance and character.

Harvest approaches at Tenuta dell’Ornellaia

Vino Nobile – The wines of Montepulciano, one of Tuscany’s most charming hillside towns, offer increasingly greater personality and less of the obsession for concentration above all else than they once did. The finest Rossos and Vino Nobiles from Montepulciano are delicious, and also reasonably priced.

Export manager Carlo Paoli and proprietor Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta in the cellar at Tenuta San Giudo

Ciliegiolo – Ciliegiolo, one of Tuscany’s many indigenous varieties, is informing an increasing number of absolutely captivating wines. When farmed diligently, Ciliegiolo yields wonderfully expressive, aromatic reds with a dusty red cherry/berry character. At times the aromatic, flavor and structural profile of Ciliegiolo is very similar to that of Sangiovese, but I often find an attractive mid-palate sweetness in the best Ciliegiolos that is distinctive. Top estates include Sassotondo, La Selva and Villa Patrizia.

Look Beyond the Obvious – Established benchmarks tend to command most of the attention in any region. That will probably always be the case. Readers who want to explore the less obvious will find plenty of estates that are off the beaten track and that are making compelling wines, including La Piana, Mocine, OT (Oliviero Toscani), Tenuta Casteani and more.

The back roads of Bolgheri feel especially serene after a long day of tastings

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