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Montecucco: the wines of the upper Maremma.

Maremma evokes the image of a rural world, somewhat peripheral and rustic compared to other areas of Tuscany and, perhaps thanks to this, remained more intact and authentic.

A perception that in the collective imagination is linked more to the coastal strip with the cowboys and oxen with large lyre-shaped horns, but which also well represents the inland areas where the hills are dominated by the volcanic massif of Mount Amiata.

And it is here that seven municipalities that form the Montecucco Appellation are found: Arcidosso, Campagnatico, Castel del Piano, Cinigiano, Civitella Paganico, Roccalbegna and Seggiano.

The peasant imprint characterizes the wines of this relatively recent appellation, recognized in 1998 and elevated to DOCG in 2011 for the Sangiovese type.

Our wines are generally round in taste, but not opulent” the President of the Consortium Giovan Battista Basile told us when we asked him to summarize their profile in few words, “They are wines that do not tire, where acidity, drinkability and freshness are found”.

Characteristics that derive primarily from the territory of Montecucco which is located between the Brunello di Montalcino appellation to the north and that of Morellino di Scansano to the south, with which it shares a small surface area, and is characterized by vineyards located between 150 and 500 meters above sea level.

The winds created between the Tyrrhenian Sea on one side and Monte Amiata on the other ensure constant ventilation which naturally favors the development of healthy grapes. It is no coincidence that among the 68 manufacturing companies, the majority are certified organic.

Ventilation and altitude make this appellation less subject to the effects of global warming. Furthermore, they create a strong excursion between day and night, which facilitates the formation of the components that constitute the so-called phenolic and aromatic maturation, thus allowing the grapes to be harvested at technological maturation (ratio between sugar content and acidity in the berry). ideal for the style of wine you want to obtain.

We could describe Sangiovese Montecucco DOCG as an alternative Sangiovese where organoleptic complexity is achieved with time rather than power. In fact, it should be remembered that it can be put on the market starting from 1 April of the second year following the harvest and that in the case of the Riserva the release on the market must be after 1 September of the third year following the harvest.

An artisanal know-how, consistent with the medium-small size (between 5 and 10 hectares) and the family management of the majority of producers and which does not just concern wine. Many Montecucco producers are in fact all-round farmers, that is, they do not specialize in a single specific production but maintain the traditional farm setting in which vineyards, arable land and livestock are found. The “peasant” approach therefore returns, intrinsically generating biodiversity.

From a commercial point of view, the Consortium’s strategies aim to rebalance the relationship between Italy and abroad, which today sees exports prevail with 60% of bottles sold. Due to the characteristics of the wines, and also for the excellent price/quality ratio, Montecucco wines are particularly suitable for involving even that audience of younger consumers who in recent years have been moving away from wine. Not only with Sangiovese DOCG and Rosso DOC but also with Vermentino, Bianco and Rosato DOC.

One last curiosity remains, but where does the name come from?

In reality there is no sure source” replies Basile “there was the Monte Cucco Castle founded after the year 1000 in the territory of the current municipality of Cinigiano. Over time the castle fell into ruin and was used as building material for the current Tenuta Montecucco, which is among the founders of the Consortium. But “cucco” is also the local term to indicate the prized Ovolo Reale mushroom, well present in our woods.

Who knows, maybe there is a gastronomic combination hidden in the name of the Appellation.

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