General

Sunflowers paired with Morellino, of course!

It was a gloomy day when the Consorzio Tutela del Vino Morellino di Scansano invited a group to dine at the fabulous Erbaluce restaurant tucked away in Bay Village, Boston.

If you haven’t been to Erbaluce, I recommend making the effort to get there. Besides the outstanding service that you’ll encounter, you will get unique dishes such as Chef Charles Draghi’s famous sunflower appetizer. He is so enamored with sunflowers that he makes a sunflower martini made with gin infused with sunflowers and honey, which he greeted us with upon arrival. Delicious!

Morrelino wine comes from the Maremma region, a less discovered, more wild part of Tuscany with a long history of wine making. Archaeological finds have included vinifera seeds in jars dating from the fifth century BC Etruscans and evidence of Roman export from this area to other parts of the empire.

Morellino must contain 85% Sangiovese at minimum, with the other 15% coming from either local grapes such as Alicante and Canaiolo or international grapes such Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Provided by the Consorzio Tutela Morellino di Scansano

Within the Maremma area, the word Morellino is synonymous with Sangiovese, and many producers are crafting 100% Sangiovese wines. DOCG status, the top designation for Italian wine, was granted in 2007 following dedicated changes in grape growing and winemaking. Current output is about 11 million bottles yearly.

Morellino comes in 2 basic flavors – the “fresh” version and a Riserva. Most Morellino is made to consume young and is released the March following the harvest. These wines only see stainless steel, no barrel aging. They are lively with a good kick of acidity, entirely drinkable without harsh tannins. Most of the ones I tasted had the typical spiciness expected in a Sangiovese.

Riserva wines are aged at least 2 years, with one year in a barrel. The ones I tried were drier and more structured than the fresh ones.

Morellino can be found for $15 – $20 and is fantastically food friendly, making them a good buy. Names to look for include:

  • Fattoria Le Pupille, the most well known producer in the area and the first to export Morellino outside of Italy
  • Azienda Bruni, run by fraternal twins
  • La Selva, an organic producer
  • Tenuta Pietramora di Collefagiano, with a Brumaio of 100% sangiovese
  • Terre di Fiori – Tenute Coste, which makes a lovely single vineyard Riserva of 100% sangiovese

Today’s fun fact: The name ‘Morellino’ is said to be derived from ‘morelli,’ bay horses which were used to pull carriages of those migrating into the town of Scansano in the summer when nearby Grosetto was a swampy, malarial infested area. The color of the wine was thought to be reminiscent of the color of the horses coats and their strength.

And now, onto the food! First, the sunflower appetizer. Not quite like an artichoke heart, but somewhat resembling one. Definitely worth trying at least once:

Charred calamari and heirloom tomatoes with roasted lobster sauce. A genius pairing with the Morellino di Scansano DOCG 2010 Brumaio; proof that red wine and seafood can go together:

Wild boar tagliatelle, a typical dish from Tuscany and a staple at Erbaluce:

And to finish it all of, warm chocolate bread pudding with cherries, spices, and whip cream drizzled with buckwheat honey:

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