On the south side of the Ombrone river (of which the Orcia is a tributary), south-west of Montalcino, this appellation is the best known of the southern Maremma. The appellation was elevated from DOC to DOCG status with the 2007 harvest.
The appellation’s name is a compound of Morellino – a synonym for Tuscany’s ubiquitous Sangiovese, and so named after the skins of the indigenous Morelli horses whose dark skins reflect the colour of the wine – and Scansano, the small town at the heart of the appellation.
Historically the zone follows the same story of elsewhere in the Maremma: inhabitation and vine cultivation by the Etruschi; then commercial success with the Romans, who exported the region’s wines to the colonies; followed by depopulation and decline into malaria-infested swampland after the fall of the Roman Empire. By the middle ages grape production was limited to family consumption and local trade. With the 18th Century, some advantage arose for Scansano by virtue of the summertime growth of the population by the Grossetani who sought escape from malaria each year.
The appellation is a mix of soil types, largely shallow with rocky outcrops, and grouped, broadly speaking, with sandstone to the west and more complex limestone and clay in the east.
The disciplinare stipulates a minimum of 85% Sangiovese, with 15% of other regional grapes permitted, including Alicante (Cannonau/Grenache), Ciliegiolo and Merlot. Yields are restricted to 90 tonnes per hectare.
With its warm Mediterranean climate, a typical Morellino di Scansano is soft and fruity, with the vines enjoying less dramatic day/night temperature changes as a result of the moderating influences of breezes from the Tyrrenhian Sea; while the Riserva, which must spend a minimum two years ageing, of which one in oak, is fuller in body, complexity and structure.