Italy’s less well-known wine appellations provide a continuing supply of truly interesting wines at very reasonable prices, like the fresh, juicy 2012 Salcheto Obvius Rosso di Montepulciano. It’s the first vintage of this dark, intense red with a taste of pure fruit from an organic winery in the district of Montepulciano, southeast of Siena in Tuscany. It was a perfect partner to rich pasta Bolognese at a weeknight dinner.
Elin McCoy’s Wine of the Week
Region: Tuscany, Italy
Grape: 100% Prugnolo Gentile Sangiovese
Serve with: Pasta Bolognese, roasted turkey
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Salcheto is the brainchild of winemaker Michele Manelli, who purchased the property in 1997 and added two partners about a decade ago. Together they began exploring ways to improve wine quality while creating a more sustainable, energy-efficient cellar with a low environmental impact.
In 2011, they built what they call Italy’s first “off-grid” winery, which uses no traditional power sources and generates its own energy with solar photovoltaic panels. And it gets by on less than half the energy conventional wineries require, thanks to using only natural lighting, recycled water and gravity. The cellar is built into the side of a hill, with plants on the exposed wall to absorb the sun and help keep the interior cool, and an automated system of opening and closing windows to circulate cooler night air.
The trio also commissioned a research study to document the carbon footprint of a bottle of wine. Including the carbon emissions from vineyard to packaging, it “costs” the equivalent of three and a half pounds of CO2 to produce a bottle of this wine. Last summer they completed the first certification of a water footprint and are working on establishing a biodiversity footprint.
Montepulciano developing its red wines
In Tuscany, wines like Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino get most of the attention, but the Montepulciano zone is working hard to catch up by reinventing itself. Over the past 25 years, the wines have gone from a blend of several varieties to reds based almost totally on a local clone of Sangiovese, as this Salcheto is.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is the grand wine of the region, aged longer and in wood. The Rosso is fresher, brighter and easy-drinking. The Salcheto Obvius, released in September, uses grapes from young vines and Manelli ferments and ages the wine in stainless steel, without any cultured yeast or added sulfur. He calls this a “from grapes only” wine.
The Latin name of the wine, Obvius, doesn’t mean obvious, as you might think. It has many meanings, including open and accessible, which the 2012 Salcheto Obvius certainly is.
Top composite image: 2012 Salcheto Obvius Rosso di Montepulciano label and vineyards. Credit: Courtesy of Salcheto Winery