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Italy’s wild Maremma in pictures

Douglas Blyde joined Edwina Watson, buyer of importer, Armit, on a visit to two leading properties which have, in their new-wave wines, tamed Italy’s wild Maremma region in southern Tuscany…

Maremma, a two-hour drive southwest of Florence, would, in its natural state, be marshland – Its name derives from the Spanish word ‘Marisma’ (marsh). This sea-side gazebo, alas closed for the winter, promises the holy trinity of ‘octopus, chat and wine.’

The land was first drained into submission by the Etruscans, then the Romans, and finally in the 1930s by Mussolini’s regime for farming.

Established close to medieval Suvereto in 1984, ‘Tua Rita’, once sewn with artichokes, is arguably a vineyard only a mother could love.

Its ‘metalliferous hills’ are so endowed with minerals it is little wonder a working quarry flanks the estate, while 200 electricity pylons accepted in a settlement by a previous owner, stride it. Stefano Frascolla, son-in-law of Rita Tua, recalled a lunch with John Armit in 1998 as the “most difficult of my life”, owing to a now resolved language barrier. “But on tasting the wines, John decided immediately to work with me…”

More raucous than the tasty, iodine-scented Vermentino 2015 Perlato del Bosco –  white sister to its sappy, Sangiovese brother – named after the pink marble on which it is grown, is the tasting room’s extravagant décor. From vineyards near Baratti beach, this is an inaugural wine totalling just 5,000 bottles.

Its top Merlot Redigaffi has been awarded 100 points twice, once in 2000 by Wine Advocate and in 1997 by James Suckling. Isa Bal of the Fat Duck has described Redigaffi as “one of the top three Merlots in the world”.

Meanwhile, Syrah, planted by Rita Tua’s late husband, Virgilio Bisti, in 2001, is “the equivalent to a Mini Cooper S”, says Frascolla, on account of its attitude and power – the 2015 barrel sample was a favourite of the trip. It was a good match for this fresh mushroom the size of a mask, plucked from the Suvereto hills.

Onto Fattoria Le Pupille and a 4×4 tour of the Magliano vineyard which yields Saffredi. The production was brought to life in 1987 with the help of Giacomo Tachis of Sassicaia and owner Elisabetta Gepetti, and has been described as the father of all ‘Super Maremma’ reds. It sees Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and the local Alicante sumptuously united.

Gepetti shows off a lounger crafted from barrel staves at Fattoria Le Pupille.

Grapes once destined for sweet wine Solalto (production culminated, sadly, in 2008) are now diverted to Poggio Argentato, a thrilling dry white made from a blend of Gewurtztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Petit Manseng.

Le Pupille showed off a trio of amphorae that have been allocated to a new instalment of Syrah.

Gepetti cradles fragrant fragola grapes while son, Hector, cooks pici pasta and hare ragu.

Gepetti redefined Morellino di Scansano, which was elevated to DOCG status in 2006. Wines served at dinner at Gepetti’s home, a mansion amid botanical gardens, included a graceful, present, Morellino Riserva 1998, and deft, black truffle and Margaux-like Morellino Riserva 1997. Afterwards, the utterly world class Saffredi 2006 still felt young.

“The way of producing wines is different to 33 years ago,” said Gepetti. “I wonder what the wines I’m having success with today will be in 20 years?”

(Wines imported by

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