Le Macchiole can best be defined as the “Boutique Bolgheri.” The winery is known for its spectacular single-varietal wines, and their signature grape varieties are Syrah, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc and work is always conducted with the priority being “the expression of the land.” The winery continues to evolve in both the vineyards and in the cellar to allow the soil characteristics from this estate property to be the defining identity in the wines.
Today, Bolgheri is among Italy’s most famed wine producing regions, but this seemed far from a possibility in 1983, the year Le Macchiole was founded and a time when the area was known simply for a close proximity to the sea and having abundant fruit and grain agriculture. Yet, two natives of Bolgheri, Eugenio Campolmi and Cinzia Merli, were devoted to the idea of vine growing in their home region even when it was not considered a viable way to start a living.
“My husband Eugenio and I started off with very limited, if almost no, resources,” Cinzia recalls. “We gave up working his parents’ retail and restaurant business and bought a few hectares of land planted to wheat. We decided to plant vineyards starting with many varieties – sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, merlot, syrah, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and vermentino – so that we might see what grew best on our little property. That is how our life project began and, for me, our learning is still in progress. I believe that Bolgheri is in the early stage of development. It has just become aware of its potential and understanding of which grape varieties give their best to each part of the different soils; much is still yet to be accomplished here.”
As they cultivated and learned the possibilities for their land, Le Macchiole’s philosophy became to interpret their territory through single-variety wines, beginning with the 1994 vintage. This was an unusual, perhaps daring, plan for a winery of the region to commit to at the time; any known wines from Bolgheri were a result of the strong belief in blending varieties. The idea took shape gradually over years of tireless experimentation by Eugenio, Cinzia and with the help of Luca d’Attoma, the winery’s long time consulting enologist, who began working with Le Macchiole in 1991. Ultimately, vinifying separate varieties has been extremely successful for the winery, allowing the wines of Le Macchiole to demonstrate the potential of terroir in Bolgheri differently.
Massimo Merli, Cinzia’s’ brother, manages the agricultural work with meticulous and careful planning. The winery’s planting density is between 5,000 and 10,000 plants per hectare and vine growing is rooted in organic farming practices “first and foremost, out of respect for the people who work here,” says Cinzia. Manual harvesting is followed by the sorting of bunches and then berries on a double sorting table.
At Le Macchiole, the signature grape varieties are Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Syrah, and work is always conducted with the priority being “the expression of the land.” The winery continues to evolve in both the vineyards and in the cellar to allow the soil characteristics from this estate property to be the defining identity in the wines.
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First produced in 1991, Paleo Bianco is a silky, mineral-driven blend of Chardonnay (90%) and Sauvignon Blanc (10%). Perfect for pairing with seafood, this white is well suited to a medium to long aging in bottle.
Bolgheri Rosso is a refined, irresistible blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah, serving as an introduction to the estate. The wine is, frankly, almost too good at the price. All the intensive artisanal work that Le Macchiole carries out in its vineyards and cellars benefits this wine, and despite more availability than its Paleo Rosso, Messorio and Scrio siblings, it sells out nearly as quickly.
Scrio was born in 1994, out of Eugenio Campolmi’s wish to produce a wine which would best express his vision of Syrah, his favorite grape variety. As all Le Macchiole wines, Scrio has an original personality and stands apart from Syrah grown in France or anywhere else – it is an extraordinarily compelling meld of deep and velvety Mediterranean fruit with cool climate aromatics and detail. Given the extremely limited production, Scrio is decidedly a hidden gem.
Messorio, a Merlot monovarietal, is the winery’s crown jewel. Its initial vintage was 1994, and since then it has received extraordinary acclaim, including a 100-point score from the Wine Spectator for the 2004 vintage. The name Messorio refers to the ancient Tuscan practice of wheat harvesting, the most important time of the year in the Bolgheri countryside – once it referred to wheat; these days, it is all about grape harvesting.
Paleo Rosso has been called Italy’s landmark expression of Cabernet Franc. This grape variety is growing internationally as a distinct bottling, but Bolgheri has proven to be the single best place in the world to do so. The Mediterranean climate and surroundings result in a wine of extraordinarily expressive, sensual, and textural fruits and savory spices.
- "This expression of Merlot is explosive and profound. The 2016 Messorio presents an absolute textbook rendition of Merlot that can be read and appreciated in terms of the layering and overlapping textures of the wine as it rolls over the palate. There is a point of sweetness on the palate, and the wine also shows a bright point of acidity that makes for a great balancing act. I tasted this wine twice, and at my first tasting, I tried it next to the 2015 vintage, thus putting me in a better position to directly compare the two. Whereas the 2015 edition came off as more velvety and soft, the 2016 vintage displays exceptionally crafted precision. This is an incredible wine. Fermentation occurs in cement vats, and the wine goes into barrique for 19 months. Some 11,000 bottles were made."
(96+) - "The 2016 Scrio is a fruitier Syrah than the 2015, which was more about the pepper and the savory spice. The 2015 was broader, while this wine is more linear and classic. It boasts more depth and brings a lot of earthy tones, and it's generally a much more vertical wine than the 2015. This is a very precise, beautiful and detailed expression of Syrah that shows a very generous disposition overall. In fact, this wine harnesses the exuberant abundance of the grape and channels it with extreme elegance. Some 3,900 bottles were made."
- "Here's another pure varietal expression, this time Cabernet Franc, and it is one for the ages. The 2015 edition of the Paleo was hot with nutty notes, whereas the 2016 Paleo is tighter and fresher. There is tension and precision here, rendering beautifully pastoral tones of green olive and herbs. You'll pick up notes of moist earth along with some spice. The freshness is truly epic, with well-integrated tannins. When you hit the licorice tones, you'll finally appreciate the depth and dimension of this wine. This is a true beauty, with enormous depth, concentration and power."
- "As usual, Le Macchiole has done a great job with all of its releases, including the lower-end bottles such as the 2017 Bolgheri Rosso. There is a sure sense of precision and sharpness here with bright berry and black cherry. Those aromas show quality and craftsmanship. You would do well to pair this accessible, mid-weight wine with simple pasta topped with fresh tomato sauce."
Cinzia Merli is Le Macchiole’s owner and winemaker. She assumed direction of the estate when her husband, Eugenio, sadly passed away in 2002, and since then has brought the wines to even greater heights.
Gianluca Putzolu was born in Sardinia in 1972, where he lived until moving to Pisa in 1991. He obtained his degrees in Florence graduating in Economics and finishing with a Masters in Wine Marketing in 2001. Passionate about food and wine from a young age, he worked simultaneously to achieve the AIS level of Sommelier with a Master in 1999. After spending a few years in the "on trade" working as a Sommelier in Tuscany and Barcelona, Putzolu made the decision in 2002 to devote himself entirely to the professional wine world.
He began at the Italian branch of E&J Gallo, and subsequently was appointed as General Manager of Heres Italy - an Italian distributor focused on Italian and French wines of the highest quality. In 2009 he left to become a Marketing Consultant for Le Macchiole, Montevertine, Foradori and Siro Pacenti. In 2011, after a brief stint abroad to learn English, he made the choice to work full-time with Cinzia Merli at Le Macchiole as the Commercial Director. In his role Gianluca is responsible for commercial sales for Le Macchiole worldwide working with importers & distributors in 45 countries.
He loves travel, good literature, the cinema, country-folk music, and basketball, which he once played and now, unfortunately, only views on TV! He remains passionate - even "pathological" - about cooking, and sooner or later perhaps will be a chef! For now he is content with making "Percaso" a wine which he has produced for the last 11 years; a 90% sangiovese, 10% montepulciano blend from his tiny vineyard located in Vepri, Arezzo.
June 9, 2020 - VINTUS Master Sommelier Craig Collins interviews Le Macchiole's Mattia Campolmi. The two discuss the evolution of Bolgheri, with Mattia adding unique insight as a member of the second generation of winemakers in the…