You look at the label of Saggio, and it’s pure Italian, a classical composition of great balance on a slightly tapered rectangle. As you pour the wine into the glass, you immediately realise that this is a wine of great body, rich in the precious substances that gives wine its life. In the glass, its colour is dense, purple, almost impenetrable, miraculous when you think of the light-coloured earth of the Marche hills where the Sangiovese grapes are grown.
A few swirls, and the glass fills with fragrances as intense as the colour. A complex bouquet that develops over time as the wine savours its union with the air. Rich red fruits, from plum to blackberries and cherries, flowers including heady red rose, some enticing spice recalling black pepper and cloves, developing towards liquorice and balsamic. It’s like a prelude to a kiss, which explodes inside, with warm, vigorous but well-balanced tannins, powerful fruit with a hint of mint and coffee, and that note of freshness indicating the correct degree of acidity that will ensure a long life and enable it to develop further in the bottle for many years. But life is now, and as the wine goes down you continue to perceive the echoes, which gradually diminish with the last notes changing from liquorice to mineral, bringing to mind the soil of the hills beneath the town of Offida.
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And that’s just the first sip. It’s a living wine and so by the time you’re on the second glass, it’s different. A fine expression of Sangiovese, the grape that in Tuscany produces Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and many other of Italy’s finest labels. Its 14.5% alcohol content reflects the quality of the grapes and the three weeks during which the wine is on the lees.
Saggio is just one of the many wines made by Ciù Ciù, a vine-growing and wine-making company that was founded in 1970 by Natalino Bartolomei and his wife Anna, near the spectacular town of Offida, a medieval citadel atop a craggy hill looking down over the sea of vines on the slopes below. Ciù Ciù is a curious name, and it comes from a family nickname. Today, Natalino and Anna’s sons Massimiliano and Walter have taken the helm, and have brought the company’s labels to new levels of quality and organic sustainability. They have dedicated a great deal of energy to the rediscovery of some of the local grape varieties, such as Passerina and Pecorino, which give rise to fine white wines. Ciù Ciù's labels have been discovered by many personalities in Italy and abroad, such as Terry Gilliam shown in the photo below.
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If you visit the Marche region of Italy, we recommend a trip to Offida, where Ciù Ciù has a showroom in which you can taste their wines (by prior booking on their website) accompanied by some of the local culinary specialities. And on every subsequent occasion on which you taste one of their products, you will think back to those switchback hills, the tang of the sea in the air, the ever-changing light, and the love of generations of Italians that created masterpieces of stone in their towns and of liquid in their bottles. ciuciuvini.it
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