Friday, July 28, 2023

Sangiovese of Southern Tuscany in Montecucco

The Montecucco wine region has been gaining visibility in recent years. It has always been overshadowed by some of Tuscany's more prominent wine regions, including its closest neighbor, Montalcino, and the respectable Brunello di Montalcino. 

Montecucco is in the southern part of Tuscany in what is known as the Maremma.  It’s situated on the slopes of Monte Amiata, an ancient, extinct volcano Italy’s 2nd highest volcano. 

In the late 90s, a group of producers wanted to distinguish themselves and the Montecucco terroir with a Sangiovese that has its own personality representative of their particular region.  In 1998 the Montecucco DOC was created, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year since its inception.  In 2011, the area was also granted the Montecucco Sangiovese DOCG designation.  As you can see, this is a relatively newer recognized appellation in the grander scheme of Italian wines. 

Montecucco wine region in Tuscany
Montecucco - sourced from Consorzio Tutela Vini Montecucco

Montecucco encompasses 7 municipalities: Castel del Piano, Campagnatico, Seggiano, Arcidosso, Roccalbegna, Civitella Paganico, and Cinigiano.  The vineyards are on the southwest hillsides, on the complete opposite side of Montalcino, separated by the Orcia River Valley. Directly to the south of Montecucco is Scansano, where Morellino di Scansano is produced.  Montecucco has a rich biodiversity with a strong focus on agriculture with various crops, vineyards, and a large amount of olive groves.  As you can imagine, the soils are volcanic with rich minerals and clay.

The Wines 

I sampled a few wines to share today in very different stylesThese wines change with some time in the glass, so I suggest trying them upon first opening and then again after some time 

The 2019 Le PianoreTiniatusMontecucco Rosso DOC is made from Sangiovese and MerlotMontecucco from the Rosso DOC must be at least 60% SangioveseThis wine was aged ¼ in French oak tonneaux and ¾ in steel with an additional 6 months in the bottleThe vineyards sit at 1,600+ feet above sea level.  Transparent ruby in the glass with blueberry and tart cherry aromas.  Bright acidity up front with moderate tannin that tamed down with time in the glass.  The fruit leaned more on the tart cherry side and wasn’t as prevalent as the following wines.  ABV 13.5% SRP $34

2019 Le Pianore “Tiniatus” Montecucco Rosso DOC

The 2018 La Banditaccia “Vigna Allegra” Montecucco Sangiovese DOCG is a wine named after the vineyard in which it was grown, “vigna allegra,” that stands at 1,600+ feet above sea levelThis winery was purchased by the Petrecca familyIt’s an organic farm that sits on Monte Amiata's slopes near the Monticella Amiata villageThey farm grapes and olives groves in an area known for its excellent olive production, Seggiano, which overlooks the Val d’OrciaIn addition, they also produce lavender oil.   

The Montecucco Sangiovese DOCG requires a minimum of 90% Sangiovese with 17 months of aging in total, with at least 12 months in oakThis wine was fermented and aged for 14 months in large Slavonian oakThe color was slightly more dense than the last but still relatively transparent with a ruby color and garnet edgesRich cherry aromas are carried to the palate, along with cedar notes and a vibrant acidityFirm, gripping tannins that loosened up with some time.  A persistent finish that becomes silky.  This was my favorite from the tasting with the next being a close second!  ABV 14% SRP $20-25

2018 La Banditaccia “Vigna Allegra” Montecucco Sangiovese DOCG

The 2018 Peteglia Montecucco Sangiovese Riserva DOCG is made by two brothers, Marco and Emmanuele Innocenti. The wine spent 2 months on the skins and 36 months in the bottle. More garnet colored with brick hues on the rim. The nose was more earthy and savory with darker cherry aromas. Very dry with bright acidity and tannin more integrated into the wine. A slight bitterness without very ripe fruit like the prior wine. Some oak showing on the persistent finish.  SRP $45

2018 Peteglia Montecucco Sangiovese Riserva DOCG

Although Montecucco mainly produces red wines, you will also find white wines, rose, and vin santo produced there. Check out this part of Tuscany and let me know how you enjoy the Sangiovese of southern Tuscany versus the more northern part.  


If you're interested in trying some Montecucco for yourself, search

*I may receive commissions if any wines are purchased directly from the affiliated link to support the operations of Vino Travels.  These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are always my own.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Bolgheri of Southern Tuscany with Tenuta Sette Cieli

When we think of Tuscan wines the mind gravitates to the wines of the Chianti wine region like the ones I shared last week from I Veroni.  The southern part of Tuscany has many other great regions to experience including Bolgheri, the Maremma and Montecucco to mention a few.  Today let’s dig into the territory of Bolgheri and the wines of Tenuta Sette Cieli.  

The winery - Tenuta Sette Cieli

Tenuta Sette Cieli began in 1994 and was established by the Ratti family.  The Ratti family originated from Lake Como in northern Italy before moving to the area of Bolgheri.  Erika Ratti had a desire to move to Bolgheri and their son, Ambrogio, believed in the potential of making wine there.  The family purchased 170 acres of land between the areas of Bolgheri and Castagneto Carducci near the village of Monteverdi Marittimo.  The land was originally used for horseback riding and hunting wild boar until the year 2000 when the Ratti family started to plant vineyards after receiving interest from other wineries to lease the land to plant their own vineyards.  They knew there was potential in the land so decided to discover it for themselves.  

In 2012 Ambrogio took over the estate focusing on quality, practices in the vineyards and purchased additional acreage.  About 17 acres are planted to international varieties to include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec on soils made of a mix of sandy, clay and rock.  

The region - Bolgheri

Although the wines I’m sharing today are listed under the Toscana IGT, Tenuta Sette Cieli is situated in the area of Bolgheri within the province of Livorno.  I haven’t written too much about Bolgheri, but it is an important zone to know in understanding the Tuscan wine region.  The area is not rather large covering about 8 miles from north to south and 4 miles from east to west.  It is covered in thick forests that start in the hills known as the Colline Metalifere that slope down to the Tyrrhenian Sea.  Here the Tyrrhenian Sea influences the climate providing a sea breeze that cools off the vineyards reducing the humidity and helping to prevent fungal diseases.

The wines of the Bolgheri DOC cover this territory mentioned except west of Via Aurelia along the coastline, a road built by Romans in 3 B.C.  It is not included since the terrain isn’t ideal growing conditions for vineyards.  The vineyards here reach altitudes up to 1,250 feet with soils made of mostly sandy clay and marine sediment.  In 2006 known Professor Attila’s Scienza determined this area has over 27 soil types so much variety can be found depending upon the vineyard.

Bolgheri DOC wine region in southern Tuscany
Bollgheri landscape - sourced from Consorzio di Tutela Bolgheri e Bolgheri Sassicaia

The original Bolgheri DOC included only white from Vermentino grapes and rose wines based on Sangiovese.  Reds were permitted in 1994, which resulted in the Bolgheri Rosso DOC, Bolgheri Superiore DOC and the specialized Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC creation.  The wines typical of this area include a blend of varying percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc with possible additions of Sangiovese, Petit Verdot and Syrah.

The wines  

I tasted 3 wines this week from Tenuta Sette Cieli listed in order of my preference.  All the wines are 100% organic, but the winery is not certified.  

Tenuta Sette Cieli Yantra Incipio Indaco

The 2021 Tenute Sette Cieli Yantra Toscana IGT is a blend of 40% Merlot and 60% Cabernet Sauvignon.   The wine is fermented in stainless steel with indigenous yeasts and spends 6 months in French oak that is 4-6 years old plus an additional 6 months in the bottle. 

This is their entry-level wine and portrayed itself as such.  Ruby red with purple hues with aromas of ripe raspberry, cocoa, and a hint of bell pepper.  Medium-bodied with the fruit up front and nice acidity.  Smooth tannins with the oak showing up on the finish.  14.5% SRP $24

The highlight of tasting these wines was the next two.  The 2018 Tenuta Sette Cieli Indaco Toscana IGT is a blend of 34% Malbec, 33% Cabernet Sauvignon and 33% Merlot.  The wine is named after the color indigo named after the Tuscan sunsets frequently seen from the winery.  Fermented in stainless steel the wine spends 18 months in 35% new French barrique.  Ruby colored in the glass with jammy aromas of ripe, rich blueberries and raspberries.  A structured, full-bodied with rich red and black fruits.  Balanced with good acidity and an elegant finish with notes of vanilla.  ABV 14% SRP $60

The 2018 Tenuta Sette Cieli Scipio Toscana IGT is named after the famous Roman general that defeated Hannibal after the Second Punic War.  Made from 100% Cabernet Franc the vineyards are located at about 1,300 feet above sea level.  This wine spends 18 months in 40% new French oak barrels.  Ruby in color leaning towards garnet hues.  A rich nose of blueberry, blackberry and raspberry with a hint of green bell pepper and coffee beans.  Full-bodied with complexity.  Great acidity with the same fruit profile showing on the palate with some spice and leather.  A lengthy elegant finish.  ABV 14.5% SRP $140

You can find the wines of Tenuta Sette Cieli on  They are imported by Wilson Daniels.


*I may receive commissions if any wines are purchased directly from this buyer to support the operations of Vino Travels.  The wines shared today were received as samples, but opinions are always my own.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

A hop, skip, and a jump out of Florence to Chianti Rufina with I Veroni

We’ve made it to July, the half way point of the year, where our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group is featuring Tuscany hosted this month by Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm. I have some great wine Tuscan appellations lined up this month, starting with Chianti Rufina today. Many visitors flock to the Chianti Classico zone of Tuscany when visiting this region, but located just about 12 miles northeast of Florence is another one of Chianti’s gems, Chianti Rufina. 

The region – Chianti Rufina 

Chianti Rufina is located on the Apennine Mountains' foothills between the Sieve River. It is one of the 7 sub-appellations of the Chianti DOCG and the smallest of the group, but the one with the higher quality. Evidence dates that wine has been made there since the early 15th century. In 1716 the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo III, named the wines of Chianti Rufina among the best 4 in Tuscany. In 1931 the territory was defined and subdivided. It was upgraded to a DOC in 1967 and later into a DOCG in 1984. 

Due to its proximity to the mountains this area is cooler than the Chianti Classico region and has great diurnal swings between day and night temperatures. The area's soils are primarily made of limestone, clay, and alberese. Most of the slopes face south to southwest and reach up to 400-500 meters above sea level (up to 1,600 feet)!  

There are 5 communes within Chianti Rufina: Dicomano, Rufina, Pontassieve, Pelago, and Londa. Dicomano is the farthest north and has the highest altitudes, where those of Pelago in the southeast are the warmest commune with richer wines.  

The Chianti Rufina Consorzio defines the wines as “elegant wine, with a strong personality, well-balanced tannin, and vivid acidity, the fragrance evokes a complex bouquet of berries and spice.” Compared to the wines of Chianti Classico, they are fruity, and elegant with fresh acidity but lacking in the body. These wines must make up a minimum of 70% Sangiovese with other added grapes including Canaiolo, Colorino, and no more than up to 15% Cabernet Franc and/or Cabernet Sauvignon. 

The winery – I Veroni 

I was part of a virtual tasting last fall on the wines of I Veroni, located within the Chianti Rufina territory. The owner, Lorenzo Mariani, and his childhood friend, Luca Innocenti, who is the marketing and sales director, led us through a tasting of their single vineyard with an overview of the region and history of the winery. The Mariani family founded the company over 300 years ago, in 1987 when Lorenzo’s great-grandfather first established it.  

Luca Innocenti and Lorenzo Mariani of I Veroni
Left to right, Luca Innocenti and Lorenzo Mariani

I Veroni has over 170 acres of land, with about 55 acres dedicated to vines and just as many acres dedicated to olive groves. When Lorenzo first joined the family business in 1996, the winery was producing 1,000 bottles, whereas today the production is over 150,000 bottles. Lorenzo also produced the winery's two single vineyard wines that I’m sharing today I Domi and Quona.

I Veroni winery in Chianti Rufina

The wines 

The 2021 I Veroni “I Domi” Chianti Rufina DOCG is made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo and Colorino. Labeled “vino biologicodue to I Veroni producing certified organic wines. The grapes are grown on 20-year-old vineyards located 250 meters above sea level (820 feet). The wine is aged for 1 year in big Slavonian barrels. A deep ruby red with aromas of cherry, white pepper, and a hint of bell pepper. A medium-bodied, dry wine that showed black cherry fruits, but I mostly felt like I was biting into a green olive. Good acidity and tannin that were rather elegant, considering I opened the bottle without any aeration and poured it right into my glass. ABV 14.5% SRP $19

2021 I Veroni “I Domi” Chianti Rufina DOCG

The 2019 I Veroni “Quona” Chianti Rufina Riserva DOCG is what I Veroni considers their “grand cru” wine. This wine is made from 100% Sangiovese from 30-year-old vines 300 meters above sea level (about 980 feet). Quona is the name of the old church in the vineyard. This wine spends 18 months in French oak with 1/3 of it in new barrel, 1/3 in a barrel used for 1 vintage, and a 1/3 in barrels used for 2 vintages. with an additional 12 months in the bottle. Aromas of black cherry, and plums with a hint of licorice. Dry and medium-bodied with gripping tannin combined with tobacco and cherry notes. Although I will admit, I didn’t give this wine any time to aerate. ABV 14% SRP $30 

2019 I Veroni Quona Chianti Rufina Riserva

Chianti Classico has over 300 producers compared to those of Chianti Rufina, that have about 2,5 so they do not produce on a large scale as their counterpart. Instead, focus on quality and the uniqueness of the Sangiovese grown there. The next time you seek a Chianti, try Chianti Rufina to experience the difference for yourself. 

Check out the other Italian food and wine lovers as they share their choices on wines and foods from Tuscany this month.

You will find plenty of Chianti Rufina and other Tuscan wines if you search


*I may receive commissions if any wines are purchased directly from this buyer to support the operations of Vino Travels.  The wines shared today were received as samples, but opinions are always my own.