A tour of Italy – Part 2

Glengarry’s Sunday ramblings of all things vinous, grain and glorious. A tour of Italy – Part 2 comes from The Sunday Sediment Issue 6.

Sicilia

The largest island in the Mediterranean, Sicily boasts the greatest number of wineries of any Italian region. Leading light on the island is the fortified DOC wine, Marsala; so brilliant for cooking and superb when served with a hard cheese like Pecorino. While there are some impressive DOC wines here, there is also great value being offered by top quality producers making very good IGT wines from native varieties.

The South

Dino Illuminati

Generally, the south of Italy is all about value and generous, forward wine styles. Abruzzo is located on the coast north and east of Rome, the region home to Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Historically significant as the place the vine first arrived in Italy from Greece, Apulia (or Puglia) is located in the middle of the heel of Italy’s boot. Known as a large volume producer, there are now top-rated DOCG, an impressive 25 DOC zones and a chariot-full of great Italian foods.

 

Italian Sparkling

Italian SparklingProduced largely in the north, Prosecco is the current high-flier of Italy’s respected sparkling wine industry. In 2009 it was awarded DOCG status, that important ‘G’ on the end adding a rock-solid guarantee to the quality of the wine. Franciacorta is both a highly-rated DOCG area and a sparkling wine with a huge reputation, produced a la champagne, but with even more stringent aging requirements than its French cousins.

Grappa

The Italians have been perfecting their heady spirit known as Grappa since the Middle Ages. A unique concoction produced from grape pomace (the skins, pulp, seeds and stems left over after the juice has been extracted for winemaking), Grappa began life as a coarse, home-made drink enjoyed by farmers after a hard day’s work. From these humble beginnings it has evolved into a highly refined spirit. By EU law, Grappa must be produced in Italy, without any added water, from fermented and distilled pomace. To produce it, the pomace is heated in a bain-marie (also known as a water bath or double boiler) to create steam, which is forced through a distillation column. The resulting colourless, filtered distillation can be enjoyed immediately, but the finest Grappas are aged in glass or wood, which changes the colour and adds complexity. Flavours, too, can vary considerably depending on the origin of the grape pomace, the blending and the aging process. Great post-prandial, or added to espresso.

Read more in the Glengarry Wineletter – #232 August 2017.

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A tour of Italy – Part 1


Glengarry’s Sunday ramblings of all things vinous, grain and glorious. A tour of Italy – Part 1 comes from The Sunday Sediment Issue 5.

Veneto

Veneto is home to the glorious sinking city of Venice and the romantic jewel that is Verona. Here, you’ll find great value Soave, Valpolicella and Bardolino wines. Less than half of the wine produced in Veneto is able to be labelled with the Italian quality mark of DOC, with large quantities of IGT (table wine) produced there, making it an important region for quantity. It is also home to the superstar Amarone, and to the sparkling Prosecco wines made in Conegliano-Valdobbiadene. Read more in the Glengarry Wineletter – #232 August 2017.

Piemonte

Bruno Giacosca

Piemonte produces some of Italy’s most long-lived wines. A treasure trove of culinary delights, it is home to Barolo, Barbaresco, truffles and hazelnuts. The predominant red grapes are the indigenous Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto, the whites, Arneis and Moscato. The wines are distinctly regional and oozing with flair. Lovers of Pinot Noir will feel right at home with Nebbiolo, which is bottled in its own right as well as being the variety behind the famed Barolo wines. Read more in the Glengarry Wineletter – #232 August 2017.

Toscana

Cesare & Andrea Cecchi with La Signora Cecchi

A long with Piemonte, Toscana (Tuscany) has the highest percentage of top-tier DOCG wines, and is home to the scarlet giants Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. It is here that the new meets the old head-on, giving rise to the so-called Super Tuscans. The main variety in Tuscany is Sangiovese, used to make Chianti, with the variety’s greatest expression derived from the legendary Brunello clone developed by Montalcino’s Biondi-Santi family.

Read more in the Glengarry Wineletter – #232 August 2017.

 

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A Taste of Italy with Cangrande

cangrandeMichele Marai from Cangrande presented a fantastic line-up of some of Italy’s best exports – wine, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and finishing with biscotti to go along with ‘Il Fortificato’.

Cost – members $14 and guests $18.

Wines tasted include:

Quaffer: Prosecco Superiore Valdobbiadene DOCG – Bortolomiol (Veneto)

  1. Pinot Grigio DOC – Masut da Rive (Friuli – Venezia Giulia)
  2. Soave Superiore DOC “Monte Sella” – Le Mandolare (Veneto)
  3. Negroamaro del Salento IGT – Cignomoro (Puglia)
  4. Nebbiolo Langhe DOC – San Biagio (Piemonte)
  5. Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOC – Caterina Zardini (Veneto)
  6. ‘Il Fortificato’, a fortified red wine based on Recioto della Valpolicella – Giuseppe Campagnola (Veneto)

Tasting review

Click image to view more images in the gallery.

Michele is a very passionate speaker in true Italian style you’d expect coming from Verona; home of Romeo and Juliet.

Michele along with his assistant and taste tester Carlo (Michele’s father) introduced members to a fascinating range of quality Italian wines. What proved to be a hit was Michele knowledge of Venetian history and the background of the many smaller family owned wineries assembled as part of his wine portfolio for New Zealand.

Members were treated to a great range of wines including a magnificent Amarone della Valpolicella Classico; one of Italy’s top reds. Not for the cost conscious but definitely worth every euro. This wine would compete with the best New Zealand and Australia offers with its purple colour, spicy aroma, gutsy mouth feel and rich lingering tobacco and liquorice finish.

Amoarone della Valpolicella blend includes Corvina which provides the blend’s acidity and sour-cherry flavors while Rondinella is used to add colour and body. If you see this on your next wine list, go for it. You won’t be disappointed.

My three favourites on the night were the Prosecco, Negroamaro and Amarone. The Prosecco was fresh and lively with bosc pear and green apple notes, plump mouth feel and a lingering finish. The Negroamaro was more what I was expecting from an Italian red; rustic with strong savoury herb notes with a slight acidic finish. The Amarone was the hit of the show; big, bold luscious with a warming ripe plum mouth feel, and finishing like and express train.

A presto! … Steve

The first coat of arms of the Scala family. Still today it appears on the flags of the Verona Province, Verona football team and in logos and symbols of clubs, wine labels etc.

More on Cangrande

Cangrande takes its name from Cangrande della Scala, a great military and political leader and a well known wine lover, who ruled Verona in the early thirteen hundreds, making Verona one of the most powerful forces in Italy.

Through the centuries, Verona has developed into one of the most important districts in the world for wine production, trading and marketing.

In this time, all over Italy, wine making has become an art. Italian wines are still getting better, and in the last few decades more and more producers have focused on improving quality, achieving some impressive results.

Thanks to their work, Italy has now become the number one wine producing and exporting country in the world. Many native grapes have recently become world famous, and the effort of the winemakers that chose quality over quantity is paying off.

 

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