Loving the Maremma and its wines – Fattoria Le Pupille

Fattoria Le Pupille winery is picturesquely situated atop a hillock. In the local Tuscan dialect the word “Pupille” means “hillock”. The building which hosts Fattoria Le Pupille today has been entirely renovated over the past years and has also been very tastefully refurbished. The typical style of a Tuscan farm has been preserved and the building is now surrounded by a beautiful Italian-style garden.

Elisabetta Geppetti the owner of Fattoria Le Pupille is an exceptional woman. The short, dynamic Italian lady with her bright red hair and contagious smile is the incarnation of joie de vivre. She is a mum of five kids aged between 21 and 10 and her wines are a masterpiece, a tribute to this austere and beautiful region called Maremma. Fattoria Le Pupille and Elisabetta’s wines can actually be considered a declaration of love, to the Maremma its culture and its gastronomy.

The Maremma is that special part of land which stretches from the soft slopes of the inner Tuscany to the Mediterranean coast, from Pisa in the North, to Latium in the South. Until the land consolidation, drying of the marshes and malaria decontamination at the end of the 19th century, the Maremma used to be a particularly inhospitable, sparsely occupied and by consequence poor area. However still breeding horses and cattle has always been practiced in the Maremma and still today one will find herds of the typical Maremma breeds grassing on the regions meadows.

But back to Elisabetta and her wines, Fattoria Le Pupille used to be the property of Elisabetta’s parents in law, who cultured everything from vines to vegetables and who bred cattle. The winery was situated in a small village called Parete, yet several years ago the building became too small for the steadily growing winery Fattoria Le Pupille. Today the beautiful former winery is a guesthouse, where tourists and guests of the winery can stay – and honestly it is indeed something special to wake up in the morning with a view over the legendary vineyards of Saffredi, Fattoria Le Pupille’s premium cuvee.

At the beginning of Elisabetta’s winemaker career Fattoria Le Pupille only counted two hectares of San Giovese and young Elisabetta had decided to personally take care of them. It was her objective to turn the tasty house wine into an internationally renowned premium cuvee.

In 1978 the DOC of Morellino di Scansano was founded. When Elisabetta’s father in law suddenly passed away in 1985, Elisabetta vinified her very first Morellino di Scansano Riserva Fattoria Le Pupille. Two years later, she produced the very first Saffredi a wine which was later to become the top wine of Fattoria Le Pupille. The vineyard with the white grapes for Poggio Argentato and the sweet SolAlto was planted in 1989. Poggio Argentato was bottled for the first time in 1997 and SolAlto was “born” in 1994. In the nineties Elisabetta Geppetti and her wines made their big entry on the international wine scene. Saffredi conquered the wine lists of the world’s best restaurants. About at the same time, in 1992 the Consorzio Morellino di Scansano was founded and Elisabetta became its first president. In 2006 the Italian star winemaker was awarded the title “winemaker of the year” by the renowned German wine magazine “Der Feinschmecker“.

When talking about her beginnings as a winemaker in Maremma, Elisabetta mainly remembers how difficult it was to sell a wine from a totally unknown wine region on the international wine market. She had to work a lot and be extremely preserving to change things and to help the wines of Fattoria le Pupille and Morellino di Scansano gain international recognition.

When asked whether she feels that wines made by women are different from those made by men she replies that there is no difference at all. An excellent wine, according to her, is first of all a matter of hard work and passion and not of the grower’s gender. She also feels that PR and marketing are getting increasingly important in the wine business, she remembers that when she started to make wine she spend most of her time in the vineyards, today she spends a lot of time travelling in order to promote her wines and she participates in tastings all over the world.

According to Elisabetta the market has become more competitive over the past years and the financial crisis also affects the wine trade. Her daily struggle, so Elisabetta is it to keep her market shares without having to lower the prices and by consequence the quality of her wines. Elisabetta does not only believe that wineries should play an active part in tourism in the Maremma, she is also about to launch a wine tourism project at Fattoria Le Pupille. She believes that wine tourism can increase the visibility of the Maremma region on the international scene and contribute to a positive image.

Today about 80 hectares of vineyards belong to Fattoria Le Pupille. But the fame hasn’t changed Elisabetta she remains faithful to her region, where together with her partner Andrea Marchionni she also owns two restaurants Rosso E Vino in the city centre of Grosseto and und Rosso e Vino alla Dogana situated on a remote beach.

Tasting of the Fattoria Le Pupille wines

All the wines have been tasted together with Elisabetta Geppetti and Sebastiano Pompa, the sales and Marketing manager in the tasting room of Fattoria Le Pupille. The tasting room is a cosy and spacious room with a giant table and huge, round wall lamp. The latter has been created by a small Italian design-studio, it represents the sun. Elisabetta considers it her tribute to Fattoria Le Pupille’s late harvest wine “SolAlto”.

Fattoria Le Pupille also produces an excellent olive oil, since numerous olive trees grow in between the vineyards. After the wine tasting I had the opportunity to taste the olive oil, and a delicious fennel ham “Cappopollo”, one of the many specialties of the region. A delight!

Cuvée Pelofino 2010

This wine is mainly produced with grapes from young vines, currently they are about 10 years old. It is a blend of 50% San Giovese, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Syrah and 10% Cabernet Franc. The wine is a blend of all the young grapes of the property and is therefore offered at an extremely interesting quality price ratio. Elisabetta explained that the wine sells extremely well by the glass in wine bars, for instance.

-Very aromatic nose with notes of morello. The wine shows a dark red colour. It has a very fresh attack with aromas of cherry and freshly picked red fruits. The aftertaste is surprisingly long.

 

Morellino di Scansano and Morellino di Scansano Riserva

Morellino di Scansano is composed of at least 85% of San Giovese, the remaining 15% or less can be autochthonous or international grape varieties.  Fattoria Le Pupille’s Morellino di Scansano is made in stainless steel vats. The Morellino di Scansano Riserva has largely contributed to Fattoria Le Pupille’s fame. Morellino di Scansano Riserva Fattoria Le Pupille is made of 90% San Giovese and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. In 1996 however, Elisabetta stopped producing the Morellino di Scansano and switched to producing Poggio Valente instead. Yet, Morellino di Scansano was so popular with her clients who kept asking for it, that Elisabetta was “obliged” to start producing it again. 2009 is the first vintage of the new generation Morellino di Scansano, and the new label really recalls the old one, too.

Morellino di Scansano 2009

-Clear red colour and seducing nose that reminds me of cloves, cinnamon, and cherries and freshly picked red current. There are also some hints of fennel. On the palate this wine is very pleasurable with soft and silky tannin. Very good length.

Morellino di Scansano Riserva 2009

-Great nose reminiscent of ripe red and black fruit, like forest berry and blackberry marmalade. On the palate it shows very soft and silky tannins, juicy blackberries, spicy notes of Macchia-herbs . Very tasty!

Poggio Valente

The Poggio Valente vineyard counts some 15 hectares. Half of the vineyard was replanted in 1996, the other half in 2009. This is the reason why currently only tiny quantities of Poggio Valente are being produced. 2008 was a warmer vintage than 2009 or 2010. Poggio Valente 2008 is the expression of perfectly ripe San Giovese grapes. Half of the Poggio Valente wine is elaborated in new oak barrels, the other half in one year old oak barrels. This makes it possible to use the barrels first for the Saffredi and the Poggio Valente and thereafter for the Morellino di Scansano Riserva.

Concerning the various vintages that have been tasted, Elisabetta Geppetti explained that exceptional vintages in Maremma usually start with a cold spring and a relatively cool summer. She says to have observed that each time that April and May are cold and rainy the grapes reach optimum levels of ripeness without being exposed to too much hydric stress. She also believes that each vintage has its particularities when it comes to the ripening of the grapes. Some of the best vintages show more elegantly while others are rather powerful. In Tuscany and Maremma 1999 was one of the best vintages ever, a so called once upon a century wine. Other important vintages were 2001, 2004 and 2006. In each of these vintages the grapes have benefitted from relatively cold temperatures during the ripening period. This has led to a perfect balance between acidity and polyphenols. Even though all these vintages have quite a bit of alcohol content with around 14% vol. one doesn’t perceive it. The wines remain fresh and elegant.

Elisabetta is also very proud of her 2007 vintage, a wine which has ripened under rather unusual meteorological conditions. A very strong North-East wind kept blowing all through September. This caused dehydration of the berries without the vines having suffered from hydric stress whatsoever. The berries literally dried from outside. These peculiar conditions provoked the development of aromas, which in todays finished wines are reminiscent of Amarone wine aromas. The berries were overripe, but kept great freshness thanks to very high acidity levels.  Also, winemaker Christian Le Sommer decided to blend Merlot rather than Alicante with the very ripe San Giovese grapes. Even though some wine critics pretend that 2006 is better than 2007, Elisabetta does not agree. The owner of Fattoria Le Pupille believes that the two vintages have simply developed very different qualities. She feels that it would be terrible to produce identical wines every year and states that vintage character should be preserved. In her view producing wines with a vintage character is a sign for a good and honest approach to wine growing and making.

Poggio Valente 2008

- Very powerful nose with lovely fruit aromas and a great spiciness. On the palate this wine is very elegant with elegant and precise fruit aromas, very complex. A full-bodied wine showing a huge array of fruit, herb, and spiciness. Great length!

Poggio Velente 1997

This vintage was vinfied by the famous Italian winemaker Ricardo Cotarella. The 1997 vintage was a turning point in the Italian wine history. Late spring frosts destroyed huge parts of the expected yields. Only a tiny quantity of grapes survived. The summer was perfect and the few grapes that were left ripened extremely well and ended up a little overripe. Hence 1997 is probably not the vintage with the longest ageing potentials, as the wines are lacking acidity, but the vintage that showed Tuscan growers that less quantity leads to better quality. The frost had acted like a natural green harvest. Hence the 1997 vintage is maybe not the best of all , but it is one of the most famous vintages.

-Very complex nose with aromas of tamarind and juicy exotic fruits, herbs reminiscent of rosemary. The wine has a surprisingly fresh attack and seems astonishingly young, some notes of tar and varnish. On the palate the wine is fresh with soft and silky tannins. Very elegant an easy-drinking wine.

 

Poggio Valente 2001

-Very seducing nose with a sexy perfume of damp earth and roses, there are also some fruit aromas reminiscent of raspberry and raspberry marmalade. Elderberry, cassis and blackberry. The nose is very complex and multi-layered. The wine is mouth filling, full-bodied, yet fresh and juicy. The tannins are sweet, clean and well integrated. The wine is mineral, earthy and elegant. Good length.

Poggio Valente 2004

-The nose is a little bit alcohol driven. There are notes of candied fruit, some fennel and very sweet raspberry marmalade. On the palate this wine shows more strength and freshness than 2001. The tannins are velvety, acidity is relatively high, all in all a soft and elegant wine, a little bit of earthiness.

Poggio Valente 2006

-The nose is very intense and powerful, it reminds me of Bordeaux with aromas of cassis and leather, as well as raspberry. The wine is elegant and a little earthy. Great freshness and a fantastic mouth feel, mineral and elegant. Great length, a little bit of earthiness. Good length, well balanced with a soft aftertaste. 

Poggio Valente 2007

-Great nose with aromas of sweet raspberries. Great herbal spiciness on the palate, aromas of caramel, and damp earth. Great mouth feel, very opulent tannins , round and fresh. A powerful wine with a great structure, mineral and elegant. It surely has a great potential. Already good to enjoy now.

Saffredi

Saffredi is Fattoria Le Pupille’s Premium  cuvee. 80% of the Saffredi wines are aged in new oak, in some vintages even up to 100%. Most of times, the wines are aged in between 15 to 18 months. The Saffredi grapes were first harvested in 1985 hence Saffredi counts amongst the first Super Tuscans. The first vintage of Saffredi was bottled and sold in 1987. The first vintages of Saffredi were 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Elisabetta’s father in law had grafted the rootstock with Cabernet Sauvignon as his initial objective had been to still increase the quality of the Morellino di Scansano Riserva. When the vines were ready to harvest for the first time, the grapes were so good, that Elisabetta decided to vinify something really special. Saffredi was born. No later than 1985 winemaker Giacomo Tachis decided to plant a vineyard just for Saffredi.  Until the late eighties Saffredi remained a pure Cabernet Sauvignon. 1991 was the first vintage in which grapes from the new vineyard were blended. Hence, in a first time the wine became a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Alicante, later the Alicante vines were grafted with Syrah. Alicante is a rather rustic variety which contributes a lot of colour and spiciness to the blend, but which has difficulties to ripen. The Syrah contributes a much softer tone to the Saffredi wine. Now the vines are 27 years old. Elisabetta feels that since she has switched to organic farming her wines have become more lively.

Saffredi 2010 ( from the barrel)

-Seems to become a great wine, even though it is currently very young. It shows a great potential. An explosion of aromas on the nose. A very tightly knit structure a powerful wine with good fruit and clean and precise tannins.

Saffredi 2009

- Very dark red. The nose is amazing with a mouth-watering perfume of cassis and a slightly leathery note, liquorice, very complex aroma with a great spiciness in the background. On the palate this wine is showing a powerful structure with clean well integrated and ripe tannins. Well integrated wood. The wine has a great spiciness and very ripe and sweet fruit, Macchia-herbs. Great length, very elegant and precise.

Saffredi 2008

-Great and expressive nose, complex with intense aroma. A perfume of roses, ripe cassis, and ripe blackberries. Great intense mouth feel, very fresh, ripe blackberries, juicy nice spicy backbone, aromas reminiscent of rosemary. A little bit of well integrated oak. Great soft and sweet tannins. A great wine with a good ageing potential.

Saffredi 2007

-Very similar to 2006. A little bit alcoholic on the nose, but a great mouth feel, very opulent and juicy a little bit flowery a bit of leather, oak. Great structure, good mouth feel, great aromas of blackberries, very sweet, ripe tannins and a beautiful aftertaste.

Saffredi 2006

-Sweet raspberries a flowery note, roses. A little bit of liquorice and fennel. Great mouth feel and beautiful tannic backbone, still a bit young, leathery, this wine has a great potential, very strong and powerful, yet also mineral and elegant. Good length.

Saffredi 2004

 -A little more alcohol on the nose. Elderberries, a little bit earthy, mineral notes. Great freshness, very juicy, great spiciness, great mouth feel, sweet and silky tannins, great aftertaste of blackberries.

Saffredi 1999

-Elderberries, leathery notes, earthy, mineral very attractive nose. Complex and long lasting aftertaste. Great wine!

Poggio Argentato

Rather than taking an autochthonous grape variety, producing Chardonnay or following the latest trend towards Vermentino, Elisabetta has decided to make e refreshing blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer. The wine is called Poggio Argentato. Thanks to the big temperature differences between day and night in Maremma, it has a very powerful and aromatic nose.  Every year Elisabetta produces about 45000 bottles of Poggio Argentato. The grapes for this wine are usually harvested between the end of August and the beginning of September; they are vinified in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The objective consists in producing a very clean and precise wine with a pure and streamlined taste. The new winemaker at Fattoria Le Pupille is Luca d’Atoma.

Poggio Argentato 2011

- Very long and complex aromas, beautiful yellow fruit and juicy apples, tasty herbal spiciness, very good mouth feel, very long and creamy.

Rosa Mati

The Rosé of Fattoria Le Pupille is called Rosa Mati. It is produced using the bleeding method  (rosé de saignée) and is a blend of 50% San Giovese and 50% Syrah. The musts are blooded shortly after having been transferred into the fermenting vats, which means that skin contact only lasts a very short time. Taste wise this rosé rather reminds me of a Rosé from Puglia or Sicily than of a Tuscan Rosé. Sebastiano Pompa feels that both, the Poggio Argentato and the Rosa Mati reflect really well the style of Fattoria Le Pupille. “They are both fresh and easy drinking fruity wines”, he says.

Rosa Mati 2011

-Beautiful aroma of fresh herbs from the Macchia, spicy, lovely freshness and creamy mouth feel, great length.

Sebastiano added that 2011 was a very warm vintage and that therefore the freshness one can perceive in this wine really reflects the typicity of the terroir.

Fattoria Le Pupille

Elisabetta Geppetti

Piagge del Maiano, 92/A

Localita Istia d’Ombrone

58100 Grosseto

Italien

T. +39 0564 409517 oder 409518

F.+39 0564 409519

info@fattorialepupille.it

www.elisabettageppetti.com

Rosso E Vino

Piazza della Palma (Via Colombo Cristoforo, 4)

Grosetto

Italien

T.+39 0564 411209

 

Rosso e Vino alla Dogana

Via Chiarone Scalo

58011 CAPALBIO (GR)

Italien

T.+39 0564890344