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Tuscan Treasures From Four Excellent Wine Estates

Think red wine and there’s no doubt that Tuscany readily comes to mind. While Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino are the most famed wines from this region, there are other zones where prized reds are also produced. Let’s look at the wines from one estate from four Tuscan territories: Bolgheri, Chianti Classico, Montalcino, and Montecucco.



Grattamacco’s mission is to lead the success of this incredible area, going beyond the typical Bordeaux varieties-based blends to embrace Sangiovese and Vermentino as well.

Founded in 1977, the Estate lies in a protected area on one of

Bolgheri’s only two hills, a location famous for its ancient history, and the particular soil here is of utmost importance.

Grattamacco has been part of the ColleMassari group since 2002.

One of Bolgheri’s Big Three wine estates - the other two are Tenuta San Guido (Sassicaia) and Ornellaia - Grattamacco is situated in the central-eastern sector of the Bolgheri appellation in a bit of a remote site, one that offers spectacular views of the area (see photo above). It’s also at a higher elevation than many other estates in the area, as the estate vineyards are located on one of only two hills in the Bolgheri zone. This higher elevation is ideal for growing Sangiovese, a Tuscan varietal that is in the minority here, as many local producers focus only on Bordeaux varietals, especially Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Vineyards at Grattamacco, Bolgheri PHOTO ©TOM HYLAND

The most famous wine here is a Bolgheri Superiore simply labeled Grattamacco; the newly released 2020 is a blend of 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, and 15% Sangiovese (this is a typical blend for this wine most years, but the exact percentages change depending on the vintage). As with the finest Bolgheri reds, this is powerful and has the structure to age for 15-25 years; with the relatively high percentage of Sangiovese in this wine, acidity levels are excellent, and the wine retains its freshness for many years.

This is one of Italy’s greatest reds, not only for its staying power but also its refinement and finesse. The 2020, with its ideal harmony, is delicious now but will drink well in another twenty years. (Grattamacco produces several other wines including a Bolgheri Rosso that is lighter on the palate, but shares much of the same characteristics as the Grattmacco Bolgheri Superiore, and is an excellent value; also for lovers of Vermentino, the Grattamacco version is as good as it gets in Tuscany; it’s vibrant and appealing upon release, but it also drinks beautifully five to eight years after the vintage, as was evidenced by the 2016 version I tried over the summer.




There are more than 200 estates in Chianti Classico, so it’s easy to understand why some don’t get the attention they deserve, no matter the quality of their wines.

Gagliole is a prime example of a great Chianti Classico winery that should be much better known.

Gagliole owns approximately 50 acres of vineyards in Chianti Classico, split almost evenly between Castellina in Chianti and Panzano; the latter area is an amphitheater of rolling hills that is among the most prized land in the appellation.

Several examples of Chianti Classico are made here, and each is excellent, ranging from the Rubiolo, the winery’s Chianti Classico annata to a beautifully styled riserva (the current 2020 version is so typical of its origins and is very appealing at present - 92 points), to a superb Gran Selezione labeled Gallule (Gallule was the ancient name for this estate). 100% Sangiovese, this is an outstanding example of what the Gran Selezione category is all about, combining pitch-perfect varietal fruit flavors along with very good acidity and excellent harmony, with the structure to age for more than a decade. The current 2019 (95 points) is outstanding, and one of the best Italian wines I’ve tried this year.

Creator: Wolfgang Zwanzger


Poggio di Sotto


Poggio di Sotto was established in 1989 on the South-East side of Montalcino. Since the foundation, the Estate has become famous for the high quality of the Sangiovese and has quickly achieved the status of a Cult winery. Located in Castelnuovo dell’Abate with vineyards from 200 to 400 meters above sea level, with steep slopes.

The altitude, with the protection of the ancient volcano Amiata on one side and the river Orcia combined with the sea breeze from the other, result in a unique micro-climate making it one of the best areas for the growing of the Sangiovese.

In a zone where great wines have become almost commonplace, Poggio di Sotto resides at the top of the quality pyramid. Long known as among the most traditional producers of Brunello di Montalcino - aging is exclusively carried out in large Slavonian oak casks - Poggio di Sotto today continues the philosophy and excellence achieved by original owner Piero Palmucci, who founded the estate in 1989 and sold it to Claudio Tipa of Colle Massari (see below) in Montecucco in 2011.

There are several factors that explain the brilliance of the wines at Poggio di Sotto, from the Rosso di Montalcino - one of the most complex of its type - to the classic Brunello to the Brunello riserva. Besides the outstanding fruit purity and significant harmony of the wines, they also have notable texture, assuring lengthy aging. These are seamless wines, where everything is in balance and no one component stands out; power, sense of place, and superb typicity are what examples of Poggio di Sotto Brunello di Montalcino are all about. The current 2018 is a more subdued offering (91 points), but retains the precision and elegance one expects, while the soon-to-be-released 2019 is outstanding, with a huge attack of fruit on the palate, balanced by lively acidity; expect this wine to peak in 20-25 years (95 points).

Poggio di Sotto

Rosso di Montalcino 2018

A warm spring and cool summer favored a slow, gradual ripening compared to the average of the past years. During the last month of ripening, in the second half of August, even cooler weather with major rainfall gave even more character to the grapes.




A love for Tuscany and a strong passion for wines led Claudio Tipa and his sister Maria Iris Bertarelli to Montecucco’s hills, where in 1999 they acquired and restored the ColleMassari castle, a fortress from the 13th century that was originally the homestead of the area nobility, along with its vineyards.

As discovered in Etruscan artifacts and Roman mosaics found around the ColleMassari estate, wine has been made here since very ancient times. Today the estate has a total surface of 1,200 hectares, of which 120 hectares are vineyards and nearly 90 hectares of olive groves (three trees are even more than 900 years old). Key single vineyards include the 50-years-old Sangiovese vines called Poggio Lombrone and in fact, clones of this Sangiovese were planted subsequently at the winery to increase the vineyards; along with white Vermentino vines planted in 2000.

Situated west of Montalcino, the Montecucco area is one of Tuscany’s least-known wine zones; there are not many estates here, but the quality is routinely excellent.

Founded in 1999 by Tuscan businessman Claudio Tipa and his sister Maria Iris Pertarelli, Collemassari contains almost 300 acres of vineyards, along with 225 acres of olive trees - three of the olive trees on the estate are more than 1000 years old! While Sangiovese is the principal variety here, Vermentino is also important, as we are not far from the sea; the winery’s version is labeled Melacce, and is a delicious white with excellent richness on the palate along with the varietal’s trademark vibrant acidity (there is also a very good dry rosato named Gròttolo).

The signature wine here is the Collemassari Montecucco Rosso Riserva, a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 10% Ciliegiolo, a local indigenous varietal. Medium-full with beautifully ripe morel cherry fruit along with subtle Mediterranean spices, this will age for at least ten to twelve years. Another excellent wine here is the Colle Massari Poggio Lambrone Sangiovese Riserva. Given its varietal purity as well as its richness, you could easily mistake this for a more expensive Brunello di Montalcino; 2017 offers great complexity and is an outstanding accompaniment to steak and most red meats (91 points).

If you are in the Montecucco area, try and reserve a day or two at the estate, as the guest rooms are large, well-designed, and very appealing (the beds are huge and very comfortable). The resort’s dining room has a list with only wines from Colle Massari properties (including Poggio di Sotto and Grattamacco), and the cuisine is better - in my opinion - than that of many famous ristorante in large cities in Tuscany. Given the fact that the Collemassari estate in Montecucco is a bit off the beaten path, you’ll no doubt enjoy the quiet beauty of this wonderful piece of Tuscany.

Grounds at Collemassari, Montecucco PHOTO COURTESY COLLEMASSARI


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