The photo about is from Verona not from Treviso, the province in the Veneto, where this grape is mostly found. It is a cross between two white grapes, Verdiso Bianco and Riesling Italico that was created by Italo Cosmo at the Istituto Sperimentale per la Viticoltura di Conegliano. Here is one winery that makes a 100% Verdiso wine, Conte Collalto. Many of the characteristics of Verdiso can be seen in Italica but the form of the bunch and the berry are said to be similar to that of Riesling Italico.
I get a kick out of the name of the grape because I used to write a separate blog called Italica to mean someone who loves Italy and all things Italian. While I no longer write on that blog, although seeing the articles reminds me that I love Italy for many things not just for wine & food, I-Italy.org continues its mission on all things Italian. They are quite extensive now with a TV show and a magazine as well as their website.
With this blog post, I have now writtem 138 entries on Italian indigenous varieties and have finished with the letter “I.”
This week’s indigenous variety hails from Lombardy, from the province of Brescia. I found it mentioned in a couple of places and a white wine made from the grape called Vino Pusterla. I also found this interesting blog reference to the grape. I have never had a wine made from this white grape but I am told that it has a very light color and an almond aftertaste, something that immediately points to Italy, although it has low acidity which, in a blind tasting, would lead me away from Italy.
Brescia is a city that is surprisingly interesting and rich in art, culture and even Roman ruins. Brescia, Lombardy’s second largest city after Milan, is often thought of as a small industrial town in Northern Italy, perhaps worth a few hours to see the Duomo, have lunch and then continue on to its more well known neighboring cities. On closer inspection however, Brescia reveals it’s exciting and varied history as well as numerous treasures. Brescia is known throughout Italy for its steel industry and precision instruments. The city is quite well to do and the wealth and prosperity of the city is clearly evident in the high quality shops, stores and restaurants. These last are considerably more expensive than even those of its larger neighbor, Milan. An itinerary through the city of Brescia can be created around various themes such as Roman, Medieval, Renaissance, and 17th century architecture. The city can be well navigated on foot from the central station, by bus, car or on bikes. Like Bergamo, Brescia is a great side trip if you are in Milan. As you might have guessed, I wrote a long travel article on Brescia for a magazine some years ago.
This week’s variety is called Impigno Bianco. The name is clearly a family name and is thought to be that of the person who brought this grape to Italy, specifically to Puglia near the town of Ostuni. A white grape it is used for blending generally with other indigenous grapes such as Verdeca, Bianco d’Alessano and Francovidda. It can be found in wines listed under the Ostuni D.O.C. denomination.
It’s nice to write about a grape from Puglia during the summer months. I have such fond memories of a vacation I spent in the Salento and of my visit to Ostuni, the first town I really visited in that part of Italy. We also visited Rosa Marina, the beach nearby. Amazing places to vacation and really enticing on this overcast New York Tuesday. All white, it must have been 50 degrees celsius in the shade that August. I drove to Puglia from Milano with a small group of friends. We spent a lovely week staying in the Salento, eating royally and swimming in the green water that is found all over Puglia. I loved all of it, perhaps not the 3 kg I gained from all that eating but it was such a memorable trip. The people were more than welcoming and the countryside is beautiful but it was the color of the water that I will never forget. I remember seeing pictures of green water thinking it had to be colored or changed on a computer but it actually was that color green. I felt I was swimming in an Emerald. If you ever get the chance to visit the area, don’t pass it up.
It’s taken me 11 months to get through posts about Italian grape varieties that start with a “g” and here we are with my last one on Groppello di Revo’. I finished the “F” grapes right before I gave birth to my son last September and his 11 month birthday is tomorrow. Hard to believe all around. Last week I wrote about Groppello Gentile and Groppello Mocasina from Lombardy and the Veneto while today’s Groppello is a totally different grape variety that grows primarily in Trentino in the Val di Non. This area was apparently a very important one for grape growing until the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The grape which fell out of favor has seen some renewed interest of late. It is grape that is very tied to the local traditions and pairs well with local foods. I haven’t been to the Trentino in a number of years but have been appreciating the wines since I first discovered them in the late 1990s. Greg Dal Piaz is the expert on this region and I enjoy seeing his amazing photos of the area.
Today’s wine of the week is Macchia Sacra IGT from Cantina Castello di Torre in Pietra from Lazio. I tried this wine while searching the halls of Vinitaly for a client that I couldn’t locate and I stayed a while to chat with the owners. I’m a fan of wines from Lazio, albeit they aren’t very well known or available in the US market. This wine is made from a blend of two indigenous varieties – Malvasia Puntinata and Fiano. It had a lot of sapidity, minerality and lovely floral aromas from the Malvasia – a perfect summer wine.
This winery has 50 hectares of vines on a very large property of 150 hectares. The winery follows organic principals for growing their grapes and doesn’t use pesticides of any kind. The vines are located on sloping hills facing South and West. The soil is a mix of fossils and sandy where the white grapes are grown. There is more clay in the soil where the red varieties are placed. The planting density is about 5000 plants per hectare. The area is favored as well by breezes which keep the grapes healthy and clean.
The winery can also count on antique cellars for aging of its wines, carved out of the Tufa stone and used in the 1500s as well. They ferment their whites in stainless steel and concrete and wood for aging some of the reds.
Reading the literature they gave me, I discovered that the winery was bought by Luigi Albertini, the owner of the Italian daily, Corriere della Sera in 1926 and that in the past it belonged to the family of Pope Sisto V. Currently Filippo Antonelli and Lorenzo Majnoni own the winery and are responsible for its wine production. Now I understand why Antonelli’s fantastic passito was also being offered at the same stand…
This week’s indigenous grape variety hails mostly from Lombardy and the Veneto but is also found in a few areas in Trentino. It’s principal area however is around Lake Garda where it is a major component in Garda Classico DOC wines. It is often made into a rosato as well, locally called Chiaretto.
As a grape variety, Groppello, is hearty without being too vigorous and grows best on low hills. It is challenged in soils that have a deficiency in potassium and can at times present a sensibility to grey rot and oidium or powdery mildew.
There is also a Groppello that comes from the Trentino but that is a different grape variety. A well known producer of Groppello in this area is De Zinis
There is a Consorzio of these wines called Consorzio Valtenesi. Numerous DOC wines are produced with Groppello as the star variety including Valtenesi DOC (Groppello min 50% of the blend), Valtenesi Chiaretto DOC ( Groppello min 50% of the blend), Garda Classico DOC Rosso (Groppello min 30% of the blend), Garda Classico DOC Rosso Superiore (Groppello min 30% of the blend), Garda Classico DOC Chiaretto (Groppello min 30% of the blend), Garda Classico DOC Groppello and Groppello Riserva (Groppello 100%), Garda Classico DOC Novello (Groppello min 30% of the blend). Many of these wines do not arrive in the United States which is a shame. They are easy to drink and lovely with food. Just like their friends nearby on Lake Garda, much of this wine is consumed in situ…
Lo Triolet is a winery from the Valle d’Aosta that I discovered on my last trip to Vinitaly thanks to some friends from the Italian Sommelier Association. I like tasting with others from this group because their approach is very different from the one used in either the US or the UK. Often, they also know many smaller producers from various regions that I wouldn’t have access to from my home in New York City.
Lo Triolet is a perfect example of this. A winery from a town in the Valle d’Aosta called Introd, it is owned by Marco Martin. Martin decided to plant Pinot Gris at an altitude of 900 meters above sea level. From the first vines he planted additional ones and now has 5 hectares planted from 600 to 900 meters above sea level. The soil is sandy, interestingly enough and is what is known as a moraine or the remains of an ancient glacier. Thanks to this past the soil has many minerals. The wines that he produces show this particular terroir and have significant sapidity and minerality. Martin believes in integrated pest management and uses organic materials for fertilizer.
The Pinot Gris was the stand out for me of the wines that I tried although his Muscat was also interesting. He also produces a host of wines made from indigenous varietals such as Fumin and Nus.
I am a fan of the Valle d’Aosta and the wines they produce. A beautiful place to go skiing, I am sure it is also a lovely place to visit in the summer although I have never had the pleasure. Maybe someday…