Fattoria Le Pupille, From Maremma To Supertuscans

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Fattoria Le Pupille, From Maremma To Supertuscans

15 June 2021

There is no one Maremma. It is a mosaic of landscapes: the sea and the plains below the coast, the lush vineyard hills, forests stretching as far as the eye can see, solitary villages trapped in time, Monte Argentario and the Apennines.


There is no one Maremma. It is a mosaic of landscapes: the sea and the plains below the coast, the lush vineyard hills, forests stretching as far as the eye can see, solitary villages trapped in time, Monte Argentario and the Apennines. 

There is the Alta Maremma to the north, an area of ancient Pisan dominion that moves from Livorno to Piombino, overlooking the Island of Elba. There’s also the Maremma Laziale to the south, bordered by the Tolfa Mountains that separate it from the Agro Pontino. 

And then there is the heart of the Maremma, the area of Grosseto, also known as the Tuscan Maremma, enclosed between the Gulf of Follonica and the Chiarone River, which marks the border with the Lazio region. Here is where the hills of Scansano rise, known all over the world for Morellino, a robust red wine named after the «morelli» horses, vigorous dark-coated steeds that (at least according to legend) were used by the nobles of the area to move around during the Middle Ages. 

The hills of Scansano date back to the 5th century BC. These were Etruscan lands dedicated to viticulture, as proven by archaeological finds. In the Middle Ages, these were known as lands of «excellent wines». And, last but not the least, these are lands that gained worldwide interest starting from the post-war period, after being confined in poverty and abandonment for centuries. This was thanks to some pioneer winemakers who, in this sort of marginal area, have given their body and soul in restoring a millenary tradition, showing that the vineyards of Scansano still had a lot to say.


FATTORIA LE PUPILLE

Fattorie Le Pupille must be mentioned among the most significant ventures in Maremma. Alfredo Gentili, known as «Fredi», founded the winery in Pereta in the 1960s, after inheriting «Le Vecchie Pupille» from his mother's family: two farmhouses that once dominated the area. Amidst wheat fields, pastures and olive groves, Alfredo personally cared for two hectares of vine rows. Season after season, these yielded wines that grew increasingly popular, at the same time when Morellino di Scansano (established in 1978) was moving its first steps.

In 1985, Le Pupille passed to Elisabetta Geppetti, Alfredo's daughter-in-law: she left her studies in literature to fully devote herself to wine. An «all-out» challenge, as she says, because this wine area was still yet to be “discovered”. Under Elisabetta’s guide, the company specialized in a very personal winemaking production, based on experiments made by her father-in-law and the advice given by Giacomo Tachis, one of the most important Italian winemakers of the time. The traditional Tuscan variety Sangiovese used to be blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Syrah, Bordeaux vines that had found a particular vocation on the hills of Scansano. But these Bordeaux varieties could also be used without Sangiovese to produce wines with a defined and opulent character: thus, breaking from tradition, they started another one.


SAFFREDI, THE FIRST SUPERTUSCAN


This is the case of Saffredi, Fattoria Le Pupille’s flagship label, most probably the wine that has directed the world’s attention to the Tuscan Maremma more than any other. Saffredi is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot, grown on the sandstones of the homonymous vineyard in Pereta, lovingly dedicated by Elisabetta Geppetti to Alfredo Gentili. The vineyards is exclusively planted with international varieties, no Sangiovese. A heresy? Perhaps for Italy. But when Saffredi came out on the market in 1987, it amazed the whole world. Together with a handful of other labels (Sassicaia and Tignanello, just to name a few) Saffredi has literally paved the way for «Super Tuscans», a term coined by Robert Parker himself. «Tuscan» because these are native Tuscan wines; «Super» for their austerity: full taste, incredible longevity, impressive structure. 

More than 30 years after the first harvest, Saffredi continues to symbolize an innovation that became tradition. A “very private” intuition that has turned into a “collective” inspiration: the very foundation of Tuscan viticulture.


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