Ciliegiolo – Taste the Maremma in your glass !
In Italy there are around 5000 hectares cultivated with the virtually unknown red grape variety Ciliegiolo, but unfortunately this number of hectares continues to decline. Ciliegiolo is not an easy grape to grow and at times it suffers from shatter.
The Ciliegiolo grape you will find as well in North- as in Central Italy, in the regions Liguria, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio and Abruzze, but the variety is cultivated especially in Umbria and Tuscany. The Ciliegiolo of Umbria, grown in an inland area with a somewhat cool, continental climate, gives a light, fruity wine, intended for enjoyment in its youth.
In Tuscany, however, with its much warmer and more maritime climate, and especially in the Maremma, the coastal area of the region and in particular the province of Grosseto, where you can find hot temperatures in summer, the wines get more weight and are more generous. The origins of the grape remain still uncertain. Some sources suggest it to have originated from Spain, but acknowledge it is also considered to have Tuscan or nearby origins. DNA profiling from 2007 however has shown that the Ciliegiolo grape together with the Calabrese Montenuovo grape are the parents of the Sangiovese. On the other hand, this finding was immediately disputed by another study published the same year, which claimed Ciliegiolo was the offspring of Sangiovese rather than the other way around. As of now we can be certain that there is a close relationship between Ciliegiolo and Sangiovese. The Ciliegiolo grapes have high tannins and are also often used in blends with Sangiovese. Consequentially it is often used as a blending grape to provide more fruit forwardness into Chiantis of Tuscany. More interestingly, there are also a few examples of 100% Ciliegiolo that are quite full on the palate. Ciliegiolo wine from La Selva is a quintessential example of its full potential. This wine has notes of cherry and ripe red fruit and is elegantly lifted by a slight spiciness. It pairs very well with vegetable gratin or handmade pasta, but also with quiche, beef and pheasant. It is a full-bodied wine but very elegant.
“An excellent example of how the Ciliegiolo can express itself in the Maremma: rich in contrasts and delicious! “ ( Slow Food Wine Guide)
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Wine and Food Combination: This wine combines well with game, aged cheeses and Tuscan appetisers.