At the Base of the Slopes
After San Guido and Grattamacco, Le Macchiole was one of the first wine-growing businesses of the region. In contrast to many others who make wine in Bolgheri, the family of Campolmi has been resident here for a long time and owned an inn. They produced wine from climates on the plain located at the Via Aurelia, which they served openly. The pizzeria in the street is still called Le Macchiole today. In 1983, Eugenio Campolmi decided to replant new slopes at the base of the hills of Bolgheri. In the first stage, a lot of experimentation had been performed with different grape varieties. Meanwhile, the Cabernet Franc has turned out to be ideal for the climates of Le Macchiole. The flagship of the wine estate - the red Paleo - is produced since 1989. Since 2001, it has been made of a single grape variety and has evolved into a highly complex Cabernet Franc. The word "Paleo" refers to a kind of grass growing as a weed on the vineyard of Le Macchiole, which had to be removed. By now - of course with a sense of humour - it names one of the most important wines of Bolgheri.
The estate's wine to begin with is the Le Macchiole. Up to two years ago the decision which barrels to use for it was not made before the end of the barrel maturing process. Thus it consisted of wine which didn't seem to live up to the high demands of the Paleo. In order to give this wine more of an identity of its own, there now is a harvest of its own and it is divided from the Paleo at the grape gathering. This way it can be processed separately. Rarer and more expensive than the Paleo are the two red wines made of single grape varieties, the Messorio with 100% Merlot and the Scrio with 100% Syrah. "Messorio" is a term from the Greek culture denoting the most important moment of the corn harvest. In the Tuscan dialect, "Scrio" means a person who is straightforward and has nothing to hide. Eugenio Campolmi showed an outstanding passion for the Syrah grape variety. Therefore, he wanted to grow it at all costs, though there are rather difficult conditions for it in Bolgheri. The Scrio is produced with great effort and is the rarest wine of the estate - with about 6,000 bottles a year. The selection is rounded off by the Paleo Bianco, an intense white wine consisting of 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Chardonnay. Unfortunately, Eugenio Campolmi passed away before his time; the wine estate is run by Eugenio's wife Cinzia.
The wines cellars of Le Macchiole are new and very modern. During fermentation, concrete tanks are back in fashion and partly seem to replace the steel tanks. Using concrete tanks, temperature changes can be arranged more slowly and therefore more gently. Furthermore, the content temperature keeps more constant in the block-shaped concrete tank than in the round steel tanks. The concrete tanks aren't lined with tiles on the inside but have a porous surface. The disadvantage - it is more difficult to clean them than steel - is accepted, because in tastings the wines fermented in concrete turned out to be noticeably finer. There is plenty of room for the necessary work, and unlike most other local wine estates it applies also to the Barricaia. There the luxury of lining up the barrels in a maximum of two rows can be afforded.
Besides the latest Le Macchiole vintage, the first class wines Le Paleo and Messorio of the 2003 vintage were degustated. 2003 is a difficult year with partly overripe fruit and too weak acidity. The levels of greatness that the wines of Le Macchiole can reach can naturally be determined more easily by trying the good vintages. 2004 and 2006 are going to be a great success, and whoever finds older wines of Le Macciole should e.g. pick the 2001. Unfortunately the Paleo Bianco and the Scrio couldn't be tasted.
Le Macchiole Bolgheri Rosso 2005