April is perhaps best known for two things: rain and Easter. Not only in America but in many other countries as well. While the rain falls from gray skies and the sun attempts to peek out and shine a ray of warmth, so millions of believers emerge from their winter dens to celebrate spring and Christ’s resurrection from the tomb. It’s all about rebirth and renewal; the celestial and the earthly beginning anew. And one country that is most steeped in celebrations during the month of April is Italy. Of course the Vatican in Rome is home to the pope, the world’s most famous catholic, but celebrations of all sort blossom and blaze throughout many Italian cities.
If you’re wondering what exactly Easter has to do with wine (and henceforth this article,) well then you may have never been to catholic mass. We’ve all heard the story of Jesus transforming water to wine, and we all understand the idea that the ritual of baptism symbolizes the cleansing of the soul and the washing away of sin to be born into a life with Christ–or something along those lines. The point is: the fact that Easter is in April and close to the spring equinox should surprise no one. Rain, eggs, blooming flowers, newborn litters of fluffy bunny rabbits and little yellow peeps– it’s all quite indicative of rebirth and renewal. And wine has its place too.
Moving north of Rome to historic and beautiful Tuscany, there are festivals dedicated to more earthly-celebrated subjects like artichokes, white asparagus and olives. Book a Tuscan holiday and you might find yourself at La Valentina Nuova, a charming, rustic farmhouse located in the heart of Maremma, near the southern coast of the sea of Talamone. Surrounded by gently rolling hills, cooled by the coastal breeze and shaded by groves of olive trees, this area is well known for a specific growing region and wine style known as Morellino di Scansano. Morellino is the local name for Sangiovese, and all wines produced in this style contain at least 85% of that varietal. The other percentage is added for interest and complexity, and usually consists of Bordeaux varietals like merlot, syrah and cabernet.
One example of this age-old style of Italian winemaking is the Moris Farms Morellino di Scansano, 2009. Similar to its cousin Chianti, (also comprised of at least 80% Sangiovese in Tuscany,) Morellino’s flavor profile consists mostly of red fruits and berries. It is medium bodied, a lovely berry red in color (no oak age on this one,) and soft. While the berry components are persistent, there is a nice spice line of clove or star anise, as well as a hint of herbal quality. Tannins are present but not overtly so—just enough to frame the supple fruit and provide structure. This is a great example of the simple and rustic, yet quality winemaking of Morellino di Scansano and the Tuscan region as a whole. To sip a wine like this while enjoying the pastoral, picturesque countryside from a Tuscan farmhouse window would be a renewal of the soul and the senses.
But if you can’t get to Italy, you can sample the Moris Farm Morellino di Scansano 2009 at Eola Wine Company for $8 a glass/$32 a bottle. Enjoy with an antipasto of marinated vegetables and olives and let your palate celebrate its own Tuscan holiday.