Imagine the Natural Park of Monte Argentario plunging right into the depth of a clear blue sea. Or, if you prefer, you can start from Giglio Island. Project yourself in the middle of the Tuscan countryside, amongst endless prairies that extend north-east, gently leaving space to the dotted hills full of centenary pine trees and cypress avenues which in their turn allow ancient olive groves and vineyards to spread out with a seemingly divine geometry. Medieval towns perch a top of the surrounding hills, such as Sorano and Pitigliano, which alone would be worth the trip.
The thought that this uncontaminated nature – described by many as the “Tuscan Wild West” – also has wines that can magically release colours, aromas and scents belonging to the Maremma landscape, is simply blissful. The wild power that these places emanate transforms into rich wines with fragrances of wild fruits and Mediterranean scrub.
Amongst the cultivated vineyards, the undisputed Tuscan King is the Sangiovese grape – out of which Brunello, Nobile, Chianti and Chianti Classico are born – which becomes softer and more voluminous in this climate. Next to Sangiovese we find other regional varieties such as Ciliegiolo, Canaiolo nero, Alicante, Pugnitello and Aleatico. Likewise, the best known grape variety for white wines is Vermentino, yet there are also lovely examples of Trebbiano, Ansonica, Malvasia and Grechetto.
If it is true that the Maremma is the Wild West, it is also true that we happen to be in a land of pioneers (and cowboys, too, known locally as butteri), who ever since the 1960s have conquered these areas to produce famous wines with international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Viognier Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Petit Verdot. Whatever the choice, it is the different soil-type that defines the true nature of these vines. A volcanic character for the wines produced east of the river Fiora and a more fruity feel if grown in the marly areas of the hills between that same river and the Ombrone river. The ones produced in the clayey soils of the Upper Maremma tend to be more powerful than those grown by the coast, which have a tendency to be more sapid.
These are just some examples that represent the diversity of Maremma. Even if your Tuscan adventure is just a few days long, you should be informed that along with the ancient Roman thermal facilities, you will come across taverns serving ancient typical dishes such as Acquacotta, Ciaffagnone, il Caldaro – a lot of wild boar and the legendary tortelli typical of the area. In the Maremma DOC you will also have the opportunity to taste the dishes of Michelin-starred restaurants such as Bracali(near Massa Marittima), Caino(Montemerano) with two Michelin stars, Il Pellicano in Porto Ercole, la Trattoria di Enrico Bartolini in Castiglione della Pescaia and Silene in Seggiano.