Ciliegiolo wine guide
Ciliegiolo is a historic Tuscan vine, cultivated for centuries in the pleasant hills of Tuscany, but above all in Maremma, in the area of Lucca and Chianti Classico, where until a few years ago it was the faithful shoulder of Sangiovese in the composition of the Chianti blend. Classic.
Then its decline began when the production of Sangiovese in purity began, but a sparkling phoenix rose from the ashes because many Tuscan winemakers realized that even Ciliegiolo in purity was not bad. Indeed it is a very respectable wine, very different from Sangiovese, spicier, more fruity and sumptuous and less acidic and austere. The result is once again clear: producing the vines in purity in their ideal habitat is a winning choice, it allows a more accurate, rigorous cloned selection and a harbinger of great depth in wines.
The nose is disturbing, sumptuous, broad and persuasive: ripe fruit with cherries in evidence, black cherries, flowers, then burst of spices, as if it were raining. Pepper, nutmeg and a thousand others, so much so that it plays on par with Syrah for the prize as the spiciest grape variety ever. Good variety: the aromas of Ciliegiolo are spectacular.
What does Ciliegiolo taste like?
On the palate it is warm, broad, full of pulp, but not exactly snappy, in fact, the low acidity is its weak point. For this reason, it is essential to find the right balance in the ripening of the grapes between sugars, acidity and the management of the grape seeds. Consider that the Ciliegiolo is usually harvested in mid-September, therefore very early and very precise choices must be made in order not to compromise the acidity of the wine, but also to prevent the wine from taking that very green note typical of not perfectly ripe grapes. The structure is broad, the tannins are strong and give vigor and momentum to the wine, making it full, but minimizing the alcoholic impact. Overall it is a wine with still unexplored potential, even if in Maremma and also in Bolgheri they are producing good bottles. If a good day starts in the morning, we are on the right path and we will see some good ones.
History of the Ciliegiolo vine
There is not much information or even reliable theories: legend has it that he came to Tuscany with pilgrims who have just been to Santiago de Compostela, and this explains the fact that the vine is also known by the name Ciliegiolo di Spagna. The latest ampelographic studies by Crespan confirm that Aglianicone and Ciliegiolo are the same vines and that in turn, they are sons of Sangiovese.
Production area of the Ciliegiolo grape
Tuscany is the elective homeland of Ciliegiolo, we find it throughout the region, starting from the northern provinces such as Lucca, from which it has expanded up to Liguria, where we find it in the DOC Colli di Luni and Golfo del Tigullio. If we go down we find the Ciliegiolo in its natural habitat: the sunny hills beaten by the sea breezes of the Maremma and Bolgheri. In these two areas, but especially in Maremma, the Ciliegiolo produced in purity is giving exceptional results, confirming itself as a wine of good weight and structure, showing unique typicality that deserves to be discovered, thanks to its characteristics so original and different compared to Sangiovese or the classic Bolgheri blends. You can also find it sporadically in Puglia and Umbria, where it is used as a blending wine. The Tuscan DOCs: DOC Parrina, DOC Colli Lucchesi, DOC Montecarlo, DOC Val di Cornia, Chianti and DOCG Chianti Classico.
Ciliegiolo food pairings
It is a warm, spicy and very structured wine, so it is carnivorous by nature and goes very well with succulent and protein dishes. Thanks to the peppery and spicy outfit it is excellent with BBQ preparations, smoked meat dishes, summer grilled meat or kebabs.