Friday, June 5, 2020

Montecucco: Tuscany’s Hidden Gem featuring ColleMassari

When the sangiovese grape comes to mind I think it’s natural to gravitate one’s thoughts towards Tuscany, more specifically the Chianti wine region.  Although, there are a number of regions throughout Italy producing sangiovese.  This month on Italian Food, Wine & Travel group (#ItalianFWT) is exploring sangiovese all over Italy.   

The Wine Appellation ~ Montecucco 

Even though I’m not venturing outside Tuscany I am highlighting a lesser discovered appellation in the southern part called Montecucco.  Located in the Maremma, northeast of Grosseto not too far from the Tyrrhenian Sea.  The hills are set inland at the foothills of Monte Amiato, an extinct volcano.  Not too distinct are also the sangiovese based appellations of Brunello di Montalcino to the North and Morellino di Scansano to the south. 

The wine producers of Montecucco are not only focused on wine, but are very much farmers as well.  Much of the land is occupied by vineyards and a variety of agricultural crops with a high percentage as certified organic. 

Although the DOC (1998) and DOCG (2011) designations are newer in the last 20 years, wine has been produced since the 8th century during the time of the Etruscans.

Copyright of Consorzio Montecucco.  Top right map bottom up: Morellino, Montecucco, Brunello and Chianti at the top in blue with Bolgheri to the far left.

The Winery ~ Castello ColleMassari

Usually the springtime in the Boston area we enjoy a variety of portfolio tastings, but due to COVID life we‘re missing out.  A bummer for someone like me who uses those opportunities to really delve in to discover new producers, grapes and wines to share.  Last year this time I attended the Gambero Rosso tasting where I tried my first wines from Montecucco featuring those from ColleMasssari.  I had read a lot about this wine region by other wine writers so was excited for the opportunity to try them. 

The Castello ColleMassari winery was established in 1998 when it was purchased by Claudio Tipa and Maria Iris Bertarelli, at just the right time when the Montecucco DOC was established.  The winery is located in Cinigiano, right at the foothills of Monte Amiato. Occupying 3,000 acres with about 300 acres dedicated to vineyards, the rest is dedicated to crops, olives and forest.  The vines face the coast that provide plenty of ventiliation for the grapes.  This combined with the protection of Monte Amiato and altitude of the vineyards provides diurnal swings for the grapes to develop favorable characteristics.   

The castle was founded by monks in the 8th century.  The name stems from colle, meaning hills, and massari, which during the Middle Ages were agricultural centers with the farmhouse being the focal point in the middle, called massa. 

ColleMassari’s first vintage was released in 2000.  Their primary focus for red grapes is based on 80% sangiovese with ciligiolo, montepulciano and cabernet sauvignon fulfilling the rest of the land.  For whites vermentino leads the pack at 85% with grechetto rounding out the vines at 15%.  

The Wines 

Granted I was a little taxed at the end of the Gambero Rosso tasting and this was my last stop, but it made me wanting to know and try more.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Castello ColleMassari Montecucco wines

2016 ColleMassari Montecucco Rosso Rigoleto DOC– An approachable sangiovese based wine at 70% with equal parts ciliegiolo and montepulciano.  Ripe cherries and well balanced acidity and tannin. ABV 14% SRP $20 

2015 ColleMassari Bolgheri Superiore DOC Grattamacco – This wine hails from one of the four brands, Grattamacco, under ColleMassari Wine Estates.  It’s their flagship wine and was the second established winery in Bolgheri after the famed Sassicaia.This area is an hour outside of Castello ColleMassari in the Bolgheri area of the Tuscan coast.  Sangiovese takes a back seat to the international varieties with  65% cabernet sauvignon, 20% merlot and 15% sangiovese.  Aged 18 months in French oak with an additional 12 months in the bottle.  A big, full-bodied, silky wine with complexity.  Juicy blackberries and plums with tobacco and spice.  Layers upon layers to experience.  ABV 14% SRP $76 

2015 ColleMassari Montecucco Rosso Riserva DOC – A blend of 80% sangiovese with 10% cabernet and ciliegiolo.  Aged 16 months with the sangiovese in oak casks and the rest in French oak tonneaux.  Dry with ripe cherry flavors and firm tannins  ending with a persistent finish.  ABV 14% SRP $24

Come explore sangiovese from all over Italy with fellow Italian wine and food lovers.  Check us out live on Twitter this Saturday at #WinePW at 11am EST. 



    1. Thank you for sharing this great information on this region. I'm going to seek out these Sangiovese Wines.

    2. This is a region I was not familiar with. I tasted a wine from Morellino di Scansano, a little further south in the Maremma (which is such a stunning region).
      I was inspired to visit their website so I could see the castle. What a beautiful place, and the wines sound delicious.

    3. Montecucco sounds like another region I need to explore for Sangiovese.

    4. I've tried these wines in the past but didn't really know anything about the region. Thanks for sharing! The Gamebero Rosso tastings are always fun, but definitely overwhelming! Their tasting here in SF was one of the last big events I went to before shutting down.

    5. Montecucco is new for me. Thanks for the education.