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This is the sort of passion endeavor one would expect to see as the plot of an English rom-com; two German cousins and their families, travel to Tuscany to make wine in a picturesque, bucolic, Italian village. Even the characters themselves appear to be selected straight from central casting. Manfred and Andreas Kunert are the lead actors in this charming story, along with the region of Montecucco itself.


Wedged between Montalcino (and its sub zones), and Scansano (an up and coming Tuscan region in its own right) lies the hills and valleys of Montecucco. When one thinks of the countryside of Tuscany, this likely looks very much like what will spring to mind; Cypress-garnished hilltops, mounted by a Mediterranean, fortress-like structure, a vista of mountains in all direction, juxtaposed by the uniformed perfection of rows and rows of vines. These farmsteads played second-fiddle to the adjacent, absolute, rock stars of Brunello di Montalcino, for decades and beyond. You might pass by them on your way from the coast, making a pilgrimage to prostrate yourself at the foot of one of the true gods of wine. However, in the last 40 years, along that road to greatness, some minor deities are presenting themselves. Morrellino di Scansano’s rapid growth has been a harbinger of the future. Montecucco may well be that future. The initial DOC was established in 1998. The region received a DOCG (the highest in Italy) for Montecucco Sangiovese in 2011. While white, red, and rose wines are all made from numerous grapes (rebbiano, Vermentino, Sangiovese, Ciliegiolo, et cetera) Sangiovese is the true driving force in Montecucco, and indeed the only wine which carries the DOCG level. There are additionally 4 DOCs for still wine (Montecucco Rosso, Montecucco Vermentino, Montecucco Bianco, and Montecucco Rosato) and an additional 2 for sweet wine (Montecucco Vin Santo, and Montecucco Vin Santo Occhio di Pernice). Unlike other parts of Maremma, there are no monovarietal bottlings of international varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Syrah. There are 7 villages in the Montecucco region. The area is Northeast of Morellino di Scansano, and therefore more inland from the coast, but still with the sprawling Maremma catchall. An extinct volcano called Monte Amiata towers some 1700 meters over the countryside. Its influence over the region’s soils and climate and indeed neighbouring regions such as Montalcino is profound, and well-recognised. While soils at the base of Monte Amiata are predictably volcanic, they shift towards sandstone and marine the closer they are to the coast. Vineyard altitudes range from 50 to 500 meters above sea level. The entire region consists of some 500 hectares, 84 of them are presently planted to vines, a drop in the bucket of the some 100,000 hectares of Sangiovese planted throughout Italy. For our purposes here, we are only concerned with 8 of them, 8 hectares-Otto Ettari. 


While Otto Ettari does grow Canaiolo and Cabernet Franc, their focus is on Sangiovese, the grape that brought them to this place, in every sense. Today, they make essentially 3 wines; Montecucco Sangiovese DOCG Riserva,  Montecucco Sangiovese DOCG, and the IGT Toscano Principio, which is essentially their Super Tuscan blend. Additionally, they bottle extra virgin olive oil. Supporting Manfred and Andreas today are Andreas’ wife, Corina, Manfred’s wife, Andrea, winemaker Gianni Bartolommei, and oenologist, Dr. Jacopo Vagaggini, the latterbrining international experience in winemaking, as well as a degrees from Oxford and the University of Bordeaux. The specific site of the Otto Ettari is in Montenero d’Orcia. The Kunert cousins were part of the family paper and packaging business in Germany. Both had developed an interest in wine over the years, from their time at university in the Franken wine region, to their subsequent work and pleasure travels to France and Italy. Over time, their love of Sangiovese dominated, culminating in the 2015 acquisition of the current 8 hectares from famed Tuscan producer Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona. Until recent years, these wines were only sold in the German market. Today, they are available in modest quantities in the United States as well.


Montecucco Sangiovese DOCG


This is 100% Sangiovese, sourced from the Otto Ettari estate within the Montecucco Sangiovese DOCG. The wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel vats, with frequent pump overs and racking. Malolactic fermentation took place in oak, in a warm room. The wine was aged for one year in tonneaux casks, of which 50% were new. The wine was aged in bottle for an additional 4 months prior to release. There’s a lot going on with this juicy, fresh, wine from crushed ripe cherries, to red plums, with herbaceous notes of laurel, white pepper, and salty kirsch. Drink with a quick-grilled, thin steak, grilled chicken, or perhaps peppered salmon with a Cajun tomato sauce.

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