More Italian wines to sip in the summer heat!
It’s difficult to decide where to start exploring Italian wines. There are so many varieties and styles to choose from – dry and sweet, white and red, still or sparkling. Fortunately, it’s almost impossible, today to choose wines that just don’t make the grade.
The Greeks brought the art of grape growing, to southern Italy. In central Italy, the Etruscans produced wine. As civilization evolved, the Romans improved upon Etruscan techniques. Today’s Italian winemakers are refining their equipment and techniques and producing marvellously modern wines.
Traditional Italian winemaking involved old-fashioned open vats of crushed grapes and uncontrolled natural fermentations that could run very hot. Open vats encourage oxidation; hot natural fermentations can burn off the natural fruity characters of the wines. Consequently traditional Italian wines are usually the leanest and driest available!
Modern techniques can produce amazingly fruity wines like Montalto Nero d'Avola Cabernet Sauvignon Terre Siciliane IGT (229310) $9.99. Thanks to fermentation in temperature controlled tanks, this bargain priced red comes to us from Sicily – a blend of 70 per cent Nero d'Avola and 30 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark and earthy berry fruit flavours from the native Nero d’Avola wine grape meld with classic blackcurrant notes with subtle layers of sandy sun-baked thyme and anise.
Italian winemakers have a wide variety of grapes to choose from. Like Portugal and Greece, Italy has an apparently infinite number of obscure indigenous varieties that are seldom, if ever, enountered elsewhere. Verdicchio is a white-wine grape variety that has been cultivated for hundreds of years in the Marches region on the Adriatic coast.
Umani Ronchi Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico DOC (270777) $15.55 is a refreshingly straightforward white wine, pale yellow in colour with distinct greenish tints. A bounty of aromas and flavours - fresh sliced peaches and just squeezed lemons; it is very sassy on first sip, with an intriguing nutty sprinkling of crushed almonds and anise in the finish.
From an equally obscure white wine grape, Miopasso Fiano IGP (207357) $16.90 is grown in Sicily. At first glance, the rich gold colour of this Fiano promises a weightier kind of white wine and that’s exactly what it is! Vaguely woodsy – more gnarly grape vine than toasted vanilla oak – it shows off some lime and green apple aromas and flavours before opening up to subtle notes of honey and hazelnut.
Some of Italy’s red wine varieties are more or less completely unknown to most wine lovers in North America. Beyond Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Barbera there are so many others – Negroamaro is on the rise, often blended with Nero d’Avola.
Appolonio Squinzano Rosso DOP (482463) $20.45 is a wonderful puzzle of a red from Puglia on the heel of the Italian boot. Starting with 70 per cent Negroamaro and 15 per cent Sangiovese Marcello and Massimiliano Apollonio add 10 per cent Malvasia Nera di Lecce and 5 per cent Malvasia Nera di Brindisi. Deep, dusky, earthy berry fruit aromas are supported by an undercurrent of dark, dried plum and woody prune and molasses. Unfiltered, unchilled and unpasteurized. Stand the bottle overnight, before serving, and decant slowly to avoid the fine deposit of natural grape sediments.
Aglianico is one of the oldest grapes known to humanity and is rumoured to be the variety responsible for Rome’s ancient first-growth renowned red Falernian. Rivera Cappellaccio Aglianico Castel del Monte Riserva DOC (118687) $27.05 is made from 100 per cent Aglianico and offers up dusky dried cherries, sweet sage, mint, fresh cut tobacco leafiness and smoked meat.
Still an outrageously popular phenomenon, Prosecco shouldn’t be overlooked entirely. But outside of the Prosecco zone, there isn’t any Italian sparkling wine with the ‘bling’ of Bottega Diamond Spumante Brut (829804) $39.99 made from 100 per cent
Pinot Noir. The glossy black bottle even sparkles and is encrusted with a series of small gem-like brilliants representing the name Bottega and the brand Cantina dei Poeti. Crisp citric flavours scintillate in the fine mousse of bubbles with subtle red berry notes lingering in the finish.
So pour yourself a sip of something sinfully delicious from Italy!
Salute! Cin cin!
Sponsored by MetroLiquor your WineWise guy will be guiding a Sauvignon Blanc
and Seafood tapas event on July 11th at 6:30pm at The Riptide Pub & Grill. Tickets are $40.
Sign up at MetroLiquor’s Discovery Harbour store or email email@example.com