An Introduction to Morellino di Scansano

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines

Vista of rolling hills with fields and vineyards in the Maremma region of Tuscany.

Are you ready to add a new fine wine to your collection? Why not consider a Tuscan red? This time, though, we’re not talking about Chianti or one of the classic Super Tuscans.

If you haven’t heard of Morellino di Scansano, you’re in for a welcome surprise. Italian wines are incredibly varied, and sometimes, an unknown wine is simply one you haven’t fallen in love with yet. Read on for our guide to Tuscan beauty Morellino di Scansano.

All About Morellino di Scansano

This dark ruby wine has long appeared in the Maremma region of Grosseto province, Tuscany. Morellino di Scansano is known for its more savory notes compared to other wines of Tuscany, and it has a rich fruit profile as well.

The origin of its name is unknown, but some believe it comes from the Italian for brown—morello—with the word seen as an affectionate nickname, “little dark one.” Others think the name comes from the regional horse breed, Morelli, which has an attractive rusty red-brown coat. Still others think the wine gets its name from morello cherries, long grown in the region.

Regardless of which theory you follow, it’s clear that Morellino di Scansano wine has a long-time local fan following that is slowly gaining traction outside of the region and around the globe.

Morellino Rosso and Morellino Riserva

It's true that, in general, Italian wines need to play by the rules for their labeling. You’ll find other Tuscan wines with DOC or DOCG classifications requiring certain aging regimes. The rules for Morellino di Scansano, however, are slightly different.

Morellino di Scansano Rosso

The regular Rosso doesn’t require aging in oak to retain its classification, so it can be ready for bottling and consumption in as few as four to five months after harvest. The earliest release date can be the first March following a harvest. The wine must have an ABV of at least 12.5 percent.

Morellino di Scansano Riserva

To attain the Riserva label, Morellino must age for at least two years, with half of its aging time in oak barrels. Morellino Riserva can be bottled and released no sooner than January, two years after harvest, and must have an ABV of 13 percent at minimum to receive the Riserva label.

DOC and DOCG Classification

Throughout Italy, wines and wine regions with high-quality products earn special classification. This system, first introduced in 1963, follows the older French classification system.

Denominazione di origine controllata, or DOC, means that the wine is of a high standard and comes from a particular region. Morellino di Scansano first achieved DOC status in 1978.

Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita, or DOCG, means that the wine is of the highest quality and is guaranteed to be so. With about 30 years of DOC status and high-quality vintages to its name, Scansano earned DOCG status in 2007.

A Look at the Scansano and Maremma Wine Region

Many people know Tuscany for its more northern wines like Chianti and Bolgheri, but the southern region is also rich in vines, wines, and winemaking history.

Morellino di Scansano comes from the comune of Scansano in Maremma, a coastal section of Grosseto province. This small town has medieval origins, even though the region’s viticulture dates much further back to Etruscan times.

Scansano sits atop a hill with scenic views in all directions. The countryside surrounding the town has plenty of vineyards, rolling hills, hilltop villages, and a mix of landscapes. Maremma is one of the least-visited regions from a tourist point of view, which means you’re far more likely to meet friendly locals versus other travelers. Throughout Maremma, you’ll travel from blue water along the Tyrrhenian Sea to inland forests and rolling vineyards, with protected lands along the way.

The coastal proximity gives the region a refreshing mix of sea breezes, while the inland valleys and southern location offer plenty of warm sunshine. Since the region was formerly marshland, the soil is rich in marine sediments, providing both acidic and alkaline soils. The many hills have volcanic soils as well. Another important feature is the diurnal temperature swings. Warm days give the perfect climate for ripening, while cool nights give Morellino that sought-after acidity.

Varietal Blending of Morellino di Scansano

Is Morellino di Scansano one varietal? Not quite. Like many wines in Tuscany, the primary grape is Sangiovese. For Morellino, the blend must include at least 85 percent Sangiovese, with the remaining 15 percent comprised of Italian varieties like Canaiolo, Malvasia, Ciliegiolo, or Montepulciano. Sometimes French varieties like Merlot, Syrah, or Cabernet Sauvignon feature as well.

Morellino di Scansano: Taste and Flavors

Morellino is powerful. It has a strong presence in the glass, offering up cherries, pomegranate, plum, spices, earth, savory herbs like thyme and marjoram, and florals like violet and peony. You’ll taste the wine's minerality from the Maremman soils, refreshing acidity, and a slightly rounded structure. Morellino di Scansano is also less tannic than other Tuscan wines, with a more moderate body.

You might even say that it has a more rustic profile, which may be due to the integral role it has played in the local cuisine. The cultura contadina, found throughout the Maremma region, has long meant nourishing, hearty food and grape vines that could thrive close to home.

Delicious Food Pairings to Try

What foods go well with Morellino di Scansano? Naturally, the regional foods of the Maremma region, like acquacotta, a hearty vegetable soup; scottiglia di cinghiale, a stew featuring wild boar; and maiale ubriaco, which is pork chops slow-cooked in red wine.

Other delicious food pairings include pasta, lamb, mushrooms, dried meats like salami, pulled pork, any type of bread, and hard cheeses like pecorino or Parmigiano.

We’re excited to introduce you to the incredible flavors of Morellino di Scansano, just one of the many excellent wines we carry at JJ Buckley Fine Wines. You can discover even more wines in our online catalog. If you’d like further assistance, consider asking for our personalized consultation services. You’ll receive tailored recommendations, assistance with wine storage, exclusive offers, and more.