Morellino di Scansano might not be on the tip of your tongue, but it should be on your palate.
Located in the southwestern coastal section of Maremma, Tuscany, Morellino di Scansano is a new wine area with an ancient history. Its agricultural tradition and viticulture artifacts date to the Etruscan and Roman times. Earthenware jars and vintners’ tools from the 5th century B.C. have been discovered around Scansano, along with kilns for amphorae dating back to 200 B.C. Yet Italian wine authorities granted its appellation status (DOC) only in 1978 and upgraded its status (DOCG) in 2007.
Recently, the Consorzio Tutela del Vino Morellino di Scansano, a trade group of producers, sponsored a tasting and dinner at New York’s outstanding Del Posto restaurant. I enjoyed what might have been the best beef carpaccio ever, and I got to enjoy two exquisite Morellino di Scansano with it.
In 1980, Karl Egger founded La Selva, an organic farm and vineyard less than two miles from the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its 800 acres support cattle, sheep, vegetables, fruit trees and 50 acres of red and white grapes certified organic.
The 2011 La Selva Morellino di Scansano is 90 percent sangiovese and 10 percent merlot. It’s made and aged in stainless-steel tanks for eight months and another three months in the bottle. An appealing red fruit aroma emerges from the glass and, without any oak barrel influence, merlot’s cherry and sangiovese’s cranberry flavors please the palate. Soft tannins and mild acidity make this wine immediately drinkable, and the sum of its parts were perfect with the beef carpaccio.
The 2011 La Selva Morellino di Scansano retails for about $19.
Terre di Fiori is the Maremma property of Andrea and Luca Costa, the father-and-son team who also own wine estates in Piedmont and Alto Adige.
Engineers by profession, they retained Italy’s high-profile consulting winemaker Carlo Ferrini to guide them at all three wineries. Terre di Fiori is located in Grosseto, about two miles from the sea and primarily planted with sangiovese and cabernet sauvignon. Its Morellino di Scansano is pure sangiovese, made in stainless-steel and cement tanks and aged for six months in bottle.
The 2010 Terre di Fiori greets the eye with a bright ruby color, and red fruit and rose scents please the nose. Its medium body carries savory, tart cherry-flavored fruit with soft tannins and balanced acidity that flattered the beef carpaccio.
The 2010 Terre di Fiori Morellino di Scansano retails for about $15.
If beef Carpaccio doesn’t appeal to you, try either of these wines with a red beet tartare: Roast a red beet or two, then let it cool. Peel and dice it, then mix with onions, capers, freshly-cracked black pepper and a dollop of Dijon mustard.
Serve it on rye toast with either of these wines and you’ll have a perfect food and wine paring.