Last night I had dual reasons to celebrate. Firstly, Manchester United won a Championships League final they had no right winning beating the loathsome, silver-spooned Chelsea and secondly, I got my first taste of an excellent Morellino di Scansano at a sneaky wine bar that has been hiding from me not 50 steps from my apartment in Mestre. Before the big game, myself and a few work colleagues headed down to this enoteca for drinks and "cichetti" (the Venetian dialect word for tapas) and, as per what passes for fun with my techie colleagues, I was handed a glass of red and challenged to name it. To their pleasure and my shame, I was wrong, but I wasn't far off! as it had the nose and taste of a young clean Chianti Classico but was none other than the neighbouring DOCG 85% Sangiovese wine Morellino di Scansano.
Morellino di Scansano is usually cheaper than its famous neighbour and you can pick up the very best bottles from the top producers at bargain prices. So for those of you who don't know much about Morellino di Scansano, here is the QT!
Morellino di Scansano is a DOCG wine made from 85% Sangiovese grapes and any other non aromatic black grape. Commonly the wine is labelled as coming from the "Morellino" grape, but this is simply a dialect word for the common Tuscan Sangiovese grape. Grown in the Maremma around the hills of Scansano, the wine has been produced for several hundred years and was very popular in the 1800's but fell out of fashion and was surpassed by both Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino. The Maremma area is now famous for the blended ITG Super Tuscan wines and so Morellino di Scansano is still heavily overshadowed. These facts combine to make Morellino di Scansano a very affordable wine. The wine is released very young and doesn't really keep for ageing, it's a wine to drink within 5 years and in the very best vintages can be an excellent tre bicchiere option.
There are 4 or 5 excellent producers, most famously Fattoria Le Pupille who produce roughly 300,000 bottles a year and their most basic expression of the wine sells for around €8. If you want to try the top bottling (Morellino di Scansano Poggio Valente) expect to fork out roughly €25, for a 92-93 point wine, that's pretty good QPR, so look out for it.
Fattoria Mantellassi are a larger outfit producing roughly 700,000 Morellino di Scansano wines per year as well as many other excellent ITG wines that are worth a look (especially the Italian/Spainish blended Querciolaia). Mantellassi's best expression of Morellino di Scansano is their Riserva bottling (Morellino di Scansano Le Sentinelle Riserva) which is a little cheaper at €20 and is the wine I got to sample while John Terry skied his cup winning penalty *ha!
Fattoria Mantellassi Morellino di Scansano Le Sentinelle Riserva 2004 - BUY - €20
Really intense, glinting ruby red colour with some garnet reflections on the sides of the glass. The nose was chocolate coffee with cherries, crushed berries and plums and hints of vanilla and licorice, reminded me a great Chianti. The mouth feel was almost perfect, chocolatey once more with a dry crisp note on the end, the finish was clean, a little short but the wine was dessert like and very enjoyable. I'm drinking this at a perfect age, so drink today. 90 Points
NOTE: I could not find the Mantellassi outside of the European mainland so for the US and UK readers I've sourced the top bottling 2004 of the Fattoria Le Pupille Morellino di Scansano.
Where can I buy this wine?
Europeans - Enoteca Lombardi - €19 (Fattoria Mantellassi)
Americans - Wine Library - $32 (Fattoria Le Pupille)
Brits - Laithwaites - £22 (Fattoria Le Pupille)
Question of the Day
Morellino di Scansano will forever remind me of the 2008 Champions League final and the worlds most undeserving win. What special moments in your life are forever connected to which wines? (Yes, you actually have to think about this one!)