Today’s topic is an ancient, quite obscure red grape which is planted in Northern and Central Italy: Ciliegiolo. The grape has its spiritual home in the Maremma but its origins are not well-documented. Outside of Tuscany there are plantings of Ciliegiolo in Liguria as well as in Umbria. The locals believed for centuries that the grape was brought to Italy by the Spanish. However this is likely not true. In 2004 DNA profiling done at the Edmund Mach Foundation discovered that Ciliegiolo was one of the parents of Sangiovese (the other being Calabrese Montenuovo). According to the Edmund Mach Foundation, the genetically link between Sangiovese and Ciliegiolo makes it nearly impossible that the Ciliegiolo is of Spanish origin. Ciliegiolo is named after the Italian for cherry – ciliegia. The grape used to be a blending partner in many Chianti wines but because Ciliegiolo is difficult to grow more and more wineries decide not to cultivate it anymore. The wineries that take the effort to make a varietal wine out of Ciliegiolo are rewarded with a big, well-structured wine. Unfortunately the strict Tuscan wine laws have somehow forgotten about Ciliegiolo. In other words: There is not even one DOC/DOCG appellation that permits wineries to produce a Ciliegiolo varietal wine. Therefore these wines are classified as IGT.
One of the wineries that still makes such a wine is Fattoria Il Duchesco.
Fattoria Il Duchesco
Fattoria Il Duchesco is located in Alberese, a rural town in the heart of the Maremma National Park. In order to protect the environment of the Maremma National Park Il Duchesco decided to produce only organic certified wine, olive oil and cheese. The winery grows next to Ciliegiolo also Ansonica.
Tasting Notes: 2008 Fattoria Il Duchesco – Tarconte – IGT Maremma Toscana
In the glass, a deep ruby red color with violet hues.
On the nose, very intense with aromas of raspberry jam, black cherries, toast. With some additional time toffee, vanilla and nuts joined the fruit. The label listed alcohol by volume was 13.5%.
On the palate, dry, round and full-bodied. Taraconte was well-structured and of good balance however the acidity was still a bit strong. The wine had mellow, pleasing tannins. There were notes of cocoa and berries. The finish was of medium length.
Tarconte tasted very different than most other Tuscan wines that I tasted so far. The wine retails in Munich for just 15€. That’s a pretty good quality-price ratio. However the wine is not widely available. Ciliegiolo is an interesting variety and I encourage you to try a Ciliegiolo varietal wine.
Want to know more about obscure Tuscan varieties? No problem! Here you find my article about Pugnitello.
Have you tried a Ciliegiolo before? Let me know in the comment section below. That’s all for today. The glass is empty but a refill is on the way!