Talking Wine with...

Talking Wine with...

Cinzia Merli, owner and wine maker Le Macchiole

In our interview series Talking Wine with..., we are talking with interesting people from the international world of wine about their love of wine.

How did they become wine lovers? What are their favorite wines? And which producers and appellations should we keep an eye on?

This time we are Talking Wine with Cinzia Merli, owner and wine maker of  renowned wine estate in the Bolgheri area of Tuscany; Le Macchiole. Le Macchiole is internationally renowned for their Messorio, a 100% Merlot aged for up to 20 months in barriques and bottled without filtration. Yearly scoring high points, Messorio is definitely one of the top Merlots produced in Italy and maybe even in the whole world of wine. 

We spoke with Cinzia about her love for Tuscany and Bolgheri in particular and the best places to get a decent steak!


FAVORITE PRODUCER: Vieux Château Certan

FAVORITE WINE REGION: Toscana/Chianti Classico



Vieux Château Certan
domaine armand rousseau

Although you produce excellent blends, Le Macchiole is internationally renowned for its varietal wines from Merlot (Messorio), Syrah (Scrio rosso)and Cabernet franc (Paleo rosso). Could you tell us how the idea arose to focus on varietal wines?

Indeed, Bolgheri is worldwide famous for blends made with international grapes. We decided to represent the style of the area with our blend (Le Macchiole Bolgheri Rosso) while we are also focusing on single varietal wines. There was a precise idea behind this project. To me, producing monovarietal wines is like taking a picture of the terroir: a single variety, in a specific area, in a specific vintage. It is different, more focused on the relation between grapes and soils, more precise, without compromises. And we love this kind of style!

How would you describe the unique spirit of the wines from Bolgheri? 

Bolgheri wines tell the story of the place they come from. Their smooth and sunny characters reflect our beautiful countryside, with the hills of Castagneto Carducci that surround us, in a unique Mediterranean climate. My husband and I did not choose Bolgheri. It was Bolgheri that has chosen us. We were both born in this place and we make wines here that tell everybody about the love that connects us to our land.

"My husband and I did not choose Bolgheri. It was Bolgheri that has chosen us."

Bolgheri was established as a DOC in 1983, for whites and roses only. Only since 1994 the red wines of Bolgheri are included in the Bolgheri DOC designation. Your red wines Messorio and Paleo Rosso could be labeled Bolgheri DOC, but they are labeled Toscana IGT. We are aware that labeling doesn't say anything about quality, but could you explain why that is the case?

Yes, that's correct. After 2011, it has been possible to produce Bolgheri DOC made with 100% Cabernet Franc, 100% Cabernet Sauvignon or 100% Merlot. At the beginning, we decided to maintain the IGT appellation for marketing reasons; they were already well known as IGT wines and we didn’t feel any need to change that. But, a few years later, the Consortium decided to stop all new DOC’s authorizations, to stop the speculation. For that reason, some of the new parcels in the new vineyards dedicated to Paleo and Messorio - at the moment - do not have the DOC authorization and that's why we need to 'declassify' them to IGT wines.

We have all heard of the term “Super Tuscan”, allegedly coined by Robert Parker, to describe the legendary wines of Bolgheri. Do you think this term is still relevant these days and do you use it for your wines?

I personally think there are several origins of the word 'Super Tuscan'. But regardless of why it was born, I do not really like using this term. I believe that we can now simply use the expression 'Bolgheri wines', because Bolgheri represents an extremely distinctive style.

What is your favorite Tuscan dish to match your wines? And can you recommend some of your favorite restaurants near Bolgheri that we should really visit once we will be able to travel to wine country again?

My favorite Tuscan dish is the steak. It is perfect with our wines! There are several places where you can eat a super steak in Bolgheri and its surroundings. One is the Osteria Magona which is located a few hundred meters from Le Macchiole; then there is Osteria del Ghiotto in Canneto, 40 minutes by car from Bolgheri. Also, I really enjoy to eat excellent fish and nearby Bolgheri there is a fantastic restaurant, one Michelin star. It is located on the beach in Marina di Bibbona, 10 minutes from Bolgheri village and they serve exceptional dishes. Its name is La Pineta.

After a day of hard work, what is your favorite everyday wine to sit down with and relax? 

I love to relax at the end of the day with a glass of Chianti Classico.

Could you tell us about your most memorable wine moment of all time?
For me, that was a bottle of Montevertine 1988. I shared it with some friends in a wonderful restaurant that unfortunately no longer exists. A very dear memory to me!

Being a top wine maker yourself, you must interested in finding new wine gems as well. Could you share with us the names of the best producers that you have recently discovered?

The last producer I discovered is from Abruzzo. His name is Giuliano Pettinella. I had their rosato Tauma, made from Montepulciano grapes. Amazing! Rose, peony and raspberry in the noise. Fresh, salty and crunchy in the mouth. Just a wonderful wine!

Click here for an overview of the Le Macchiole wines in our portfolio.

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