Sangiovese is a versatile grape—it can be made in a rich, robust style that pairs well with meat or into a softer version that can be eaten with seafood or pasta. We recently had the opportunity to try out several different pairing possibilities over four courses and quite a few glasses of wine at Lincoln Restaurant. Chef Jonathan Benno’s exquisite Italian cuisine was served with wines from not one but two regions in Italy’s Maremma, DOCG Morellino di Scansano and DOCG Montecucco.
We are familiar with both the wines and region of Morellino, but Montecucco is a relative newcomer to our wine vocabulary. Members of both consorzios were present to talk about the wines, as were representatives from most of the wineries. Morellino is near the coast, less than two hours north of Rome, while Montecucco sits a bit to the northeast, closer to the heart of Tuscany. Both offer complex wines made mostly of Sangiovese, and the number of producers present allowed us to try a variety and compare them side-by-side. Unfortunately not all of the wines are available in the US, which means it’s time to start planning a trip to the Maremma.
The Wines of Montecucco:
Basile AD AGIO Montecucco Sangiovese Riserva DOCG 2011: Soft from entry to finish, this wine has smooth flavors of black plum, cassis, and cooling herbs.
Campinuovi Montecucco Sangiovese DOCG 2013: This wine offers flavors of black cherry, cherry cola, and anise. Tannins are very strong, but there is a nice burst of acidity on the finish.
Colle Massari Montecucco Riserva DOC 2012: With flavors of blackberry, black cherry and spice, this wine has good mouthfeel and a nice tannic structure.
Il Boschetto Botte № 11 Montecucco Rosso Riserva DOC 2011: Rich and deep on the palate, this wine is a bit spicy, with flavors of black cherry, eucalyptus, and black pepper. There is a nice splash of acidity on the finish.
Ribusieri Chiaranotte Montecucco Vermentino DOC 2014: Crisp and soft on entry, this white wine is full in the mouth, with flavors of melon and apricot and a hint of salinity. (The only white wine of the day.)
San Gabriele Arcangelo Pavone Montecucco Rosso DOC 2013: Very rich on the palate, this wine is filled with cherry and spice flavors with a very nice balance of tannins and acidity.
The Wines of Morellino di Scansano:
Erik Banti Ciabatta Morellino di Scansano DOCG 2012: This wine eases onto your palate and then brings on the fruit, with flavors of red cherry, cranberry, and caramel that culminate in a bright finish.
Fattoria Mantellassi Mentore Morellino di Scansano DOCG 2014: This is a well-made version of a fresh and fruity Sangiovese. It has good depth of flavor with notes of both tart and black cherry marked by a touch of black pepper.
Vignaioli Vigna Benefizio Morellino di Scansano DOCG 2014: This wine is round in the mouth, offering flavors of strawberry, pomegranate, and caramel. The soft finish is punctuated by a final burst brightness.
Conte Ferdinando Guicciardini Massi di Mandorlaia“I Massi” Morellino di Scansano DOCG 2013: A blend of Sangiovese and Alicante, this wine has strong spice flavors, notably anise and licorice, backed by rich black cherry. The smooth finish offers a final note of spice.
Terre di Fiori Morellino di Scansano DOCG 2014: The true definition of an easy-drinking red wine, this wine is soft on the palate, offering bright cherry and pomegranate flavors from first sip to the pleasing finish.
Val di Toro Reviresco Morellino di Scansano DOCG 2013: A soft web of tannins lays the groundwork for flavors of blackberry and black cherry that culminate in a zesty finish.