Ranchelle

The best wine producers have their own brand of authenticity, and it comes through in the wines. Christoph Fischer is a long-time German expat who’s fixated on a preservation project (recupero) of Maremma’s abandoned vineyards and varieties. The Maremma area lies mostly along the Tuscan coast. It’s a place where the ancient Etruscans once cultivated vines and where the Butteri (Tuscan cowboys) still roam. Morello di Scansano is perhaps the best-known wine from the Maremma. It can offer juicy fun, but the old local varieties here are way more soulful. We know of no one doing such interesting work as Christoph in the area: all organic farming, all native yeasts, extremely low sulfur. Soils are an even mix of sand, limestone, and clay. Christof works from a one hectare plot of 60 year-old albarello (bush) vines in an area named on old maps as Millocchio: literally a ‘thousand-eyes’ (mille + occhio). According to locals, it was an area where there were once so many vineyards on the hills that thousands of vine buds would look down on you. From that one abandoned vineyard, he has planted two more hectares using massale selection. Both wines (one white and one red) ferment to dryness in open-topped fermenters with skin contact for about three weeks and punchdowns twice a day using a multi-pronged mandrone stick that he got from an old farmer in the area. Christoph’s makeshift cellar was a Super Alimentari (corner grocery store) in the 1970s. It’s extremely clean now. After a light pressing, most of the juice goes into used 500-liter tonneaux; about 30% goes into stainless steel tanks. A tiny amount of sulfur is used only when he blends the two parts.