Everyone is searching for the next big up-and-coming wine region to get into. Often when this exciting new region is discovered there is an influx of investment trying to get a proverbial “piece of the pie”. Many famous regions have been through this, from Prosecco in northern Italy to Willamette Valley in Oregon to the even more famous and expensive Napa Valley. When a region suddenly becomes popular, because of hype or great new wines produced, producers want to get in before the rest of the world does.
In the 70’s and 80’s one such place was Maremma Toscana along the west coast of the Tuscany region. This region first sparked my interest when I came across it reading in my World Wine Atlas. In the 70’s the region became very popular for the rebellious “Super Tuscan” phenomena. Certain producers were fed up with the literal watering down of the rules for wine production in Chianti and the greater Tuscany. Too much white wine was being allowed into red blends resulting in a terrible tasting wine, on its way to ruining the region’s reputation. They became inspired by a man with a really cool Italian name, Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta. His inspiration came from Bordeaux and he planted non-native varieties on his wife’s estate in Maremma. He produced a wine (initially for his own consumption) which broke all the rules by including larger percentages of “foreign” grapes. The Marchese perfected his winemaking techniques to the point where the wine was getting better and better.
His nephew, Piero Antinori, loved this wine so much he convinced his uncle to allow him to market and sell it to the general public. As this wine’s popularity grew more producers started to make their own “foreign” blends, including Piero, and these wines became known for being higher quality than those under the official rules. This later led to the creation of the designation IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) as a way of distinguishing them above the very lowest quality wine called Vino da Tavola, or table wine .
People loved these new “Super Tuscans” and were quick to buy them up, making them “cultishly” high priced. Other producers flocked to the region to set up their own version of the “Super Tuscan” and capitalize on this popularity. This is where today’s producer comes in. Tommasi is better known for their Venetian wines of Amarone and Valpolicella then for Tuscan wines but they are gaining a reputation here as well. Founded in 1902, they have a long history of winemaking in Northern Italy but when the fourth generation of family became involved they decided to branch out and invest in other Italian regions. This is how they came to produce wine in Maremma Toscana since 1997. After reading about Maremma Toscana I checked Wine Searcher for some wines to try. I was surprised to find such a good valued wine only third from the top of the popular list. Found near the very southern border of Maremma Toscana, this wine is a blend of 60% Sangiovese and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon.
Look: As to be expected with Sangiovese this wine is a medium dense ruby red colour thinning to an tawny orange rim with thick slow moving legs.
Smell: I expected something a bit more powerful with 40% Cabernet Sauvignon but this wine offers subtle and woodsy forest fruit aromas of currants, dried strawberry, and black cherry. It also engages the nose with earthy herbal smells of thyme and peppery spice, roasted tomatoes with a slight funkiness like cured meat, all with the quintessential Tuscan clay pot minerality. For such a good valued wine this offers so much to smell.
Taste: Here is where the Cabernet Sauvignon kicks in with a helping dose of body and structure to an otherwise lighter Sangiovese. It is medium to full bodied with dry and well integrated tannins wrapped up in the ever food friendly high acidity. The fruit on the palette is darker with tart blackberry and cherry coming through along with some of the herbal and dry mineral fragrance. The finish drops off quicker than I expected but envelops the Old World charm with spices and mocha moving to dry dusty earthiness and a certain nuttiness.
Conclusion: I was rather blown away by the quality of this wine considering it is so affordable. Complex in aromas with a good mouth full feeling it shows great potential for being a perfect table wine at restaurants or at home. My new pizza wine perhaps? I give it an 8.5/10 and look forward to having this for years to come.
- Sangiovese (60%) Cabernet Sauvignon (40%)
- Maremma Toscana IGT, Italy
- 2012 – 13% ABV
- Tommasi Rompicollo Poggio al Tufo
- Real Cork