The Wine: Millocchio Bianco 2020
The Millocchio Bianco wine primarily comes from the old vines of Millocchio vineyard. It is an "orange" wine, which means that this white wine is made like red wine, fermenting the must together with the grape skins. Usually white wines are obtained by removing not only the stalks but also the skins before starting the fermentation. Instead the Millocchio Bianco is made by following the method the peasants used in the past to make white wine by leaving the must on the skins until the end of fermentation, which can last up to four weeks.
This technique produces wine of a golden tending to orange color, the reason why this type of wine is called "orange wine". The Millocchio Bianco is an assemblage of several separate fermentation of Ansonica, Clairette, Procanico, Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes done by following the philosophy of natural wine: spontaneous fermentation with wild yeasts, long maceration on the skins, no added substances and no filtration.
Sulfur dioxide has been replaced by nitrogen, an inert gas, which is used to protect the wines from contact with oxygen during racking and bottling. The wines are aged for 10 months in 500 liter used oak barrels, and another 6 months in bottles before leaving the cellar. The Millocchio Bianco is a wine rich in aromas and flavors.
The Producer: Ranchelle
Ranchelle is a small winery (4ha vineyards) located in the Maremma, an area in southern Tuscany, about halfway between Florence and Rome. The winery has been launched in 2014 with the aim to contribute to the conservation of the heritage of traditional Maremma grapes by producing wines with traditional grape varieties according to the philosophy of natural wine. The concept of the winery was developed by Enrico Bachechi (today distributor of natural wines at Vienna), since 2016 the enological consultancy is done by Marco Giordano who runs the winery Podere Erica in the Chianti).
The Maremma region is dedicated to wine since the time of the Etruscans, favoured by the mild climate of the close Mediterranean sea and by the soil composition of the hilly terrains. Historically, the Maremma has a wide range of native grapes such as Ciliegiolo, Alicante and Ansonica which are still quite common, but other varieties like Procanico, Nocchianello, Riminese and Verdello have already almost completely disappeared. Unfortunately the indigenous grape varieties are dying out since most of the old vineyards have been uprooted and replaced with international varieties (such as Merlot, Cabernet, Chardonney, Syrah, Sauvignon and Viognier) or with rather common Italian grape varieties like Sangiovese and Vermentino.
In fact the grape varieties which until fifty years ago were the pearls of the Maremma viticulture are now considered only good memories, to be kept in the vineyards-museums. The wine establishment regards them as inferior to the famous international varieties which do not have any connection with the territory. Ranchelle aims to contribute to the conservation of the traditional Maremma grapes and wants to express their full potential by following the method of natural wine making: In the vineyards no synthetic substances are used and anti parasite treatments are limited to small amounts of copper sulphate and sulfur (less than half of the amount permitted in organic agriculture), while in the cellar no additives are used.
The wines are thus sincere and natural expressions of the territory. In 2014 Ranchelle has taken over one of the few old vineyards left in Maremma, a vineyard with many varieties which once were widespread throughout the area. This 60 years old vineyard is situated in an area which in the past was famous for its many vineyards and was therefore named "Thousand Gems" (in Italian "Millocchio"). In 2015 two hectares of new vineyards were planted with indigeneous varieties, half white, half red grapes. In 2016 another hectare has been planted, again half white, half red, all indigeneous Maremma varieties. All vineyards are located on an altitude of 350m with a southeastern exposure and a quite balanced soil composition (shale with silt and clay).
The Region: Tuscany
Tuscany, Toscana in Italian, even more so than Piedmont, is the Italian region that has become a synonym with Italian wine worldwide. Its signature rolling hills, cypress trees, winding country roads, and medieval hilltop hamlets have been glamorized by countless films, TV shows, and publications, making Tuscany one of the most famous wine regions in the world.
Tuscany is situated in central Italy, delimitated to the west by the Tyrrhenian Sea and to the east by the Apennine Mountains – more specifically the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano. It borders with Liguria and Emilia-Romagna (north), Umbria and Marche (east), and with Lazio (south). The capital of Tuscany is Florence.
The Terroir of Tuscany
In Tuscany, there are several microclimates which contribute to different terroirs. This is particularly evident if we look at the different styles of Sangiovese: cooler areas Sangiovese such as in Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino to, and warmer area Morellino di Scansano.
Generally speaking, the climate varies from temperate and generally warm on the coast to cooler, with significant temperature variations between day and night inland, getting progressively warmer as we move south.
The Red Wines of Tuscany
Tuscany is home of the most widely planted red grape varietal in Italy, Sangiovese, which is present in a variety of clones with different names based on location. Classic Tuscan red wines Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and Morellino di Scansano are made respectively with Sangiovese Grosso or Brunello, Prugnolo Gentile, Morellino.
Chianti is also made with Sangiovese, grown all over the Chianti region, traditionally blended with indigenous red grapes Colorino and Canaiolo – although in recent years Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon have also been used.
The coastal area around the town of Bolgheri, and more recently the southwestern area called Maremma Toscana, is where Super Tuscans find their home. Super Tuscan wines are blends including non-indigenous varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petite Verdot, and Syrah.
These French grape varietals are often blended with local Sangiovese, but we also have several examples of non-blended Super Tuscans.
The White Wines of Tuscany
In Tuscany we can also find great examples of white wines, Vernaccia di San Giminiano being the most characteristic, and sweet wines – Vin Santo, Aleatico Passito dell’Elba.
Trebbiano Toscano is the most widely planted white grape varietal but in recent years we have seen an increase in popularity of Vermentino and in some areas Chardonnay.