Maremma masterclass report: In the zone

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Francesco Zonin

But, if the area was devoted to grazing sheep, how did Francesco and his father sense its potential for vines? “You need to be a pioneer,” he began. “And the soil was right, the climate was right, the microclimate was right, we just needed to step forward and invest, and there is no other way to know if you are right than to plant a vineyard and wait at least 10 harvests – then you will know if you were right or wrong.”

For Alessandro Gallo, technical director of Rocca di Montemassi – who joined Francesco in London to present the Zonin wines from the Maremma – Zonin was certainly right to invest in this coastal part of Tuscany. Born in Piedmont, and an employee of the Zonin family since 2004 at its Chianti Classico estate, Castello di Albola, it was not until last year that he took on the responsibility for the group’s Maremma property too.

“I have worked for Zonin for a long time, but last year the family decided to extend my position to Maremma and I fell in love because the place is unique: there is something different about the earth, the hills and the sea, and not a lot of people know about it, even in Italy.” He continued: “The area is warm but not humid, it is very dry, and what Francesco’s father saw in this place – apart from the sheep – was the water, because there is a big lake, which means we can water the vineyard.

“So we have the combination of sun, water, and mineral-rich soil: the three important things for the maturation and the quality of the grapes.” Turning his attention specifically to Vermentino from the area, he spoke about the freshness in the wine made using this grape, which is surprising considering the warm nature of the climate. “Vermentino from Maremma is crisp, mineral, aromatic, light and very nice for an aperitivo, and it is also very food friendly,” he stated.

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