Reading through my materials today, I decided to start a new section on my blog called Italian Wine Facts. Today’s factoid is about the first Italian DOC wine. I was surprised to find out that it was Vernaccia di San Gimingnano in 1966. The wine received its DOCG designation in 1993.
Vernaccia is not an easy grape. The wine is generally pretty bitter and acidic. It has to be made from 90% Vernaccia and 10% of other grapes but non-aromatic ones.
I have had many Vernaccia over the years but it has never been my favorite, until this summer when I brought a bottle of wine from Podere la Marronaia called Visla to Cape Cod. It was made with a small percentage of Chardonnay and was at least three years old if not a bit more.
I paired it with this amazing lobster and it was a dream. The slight sweetness of the wine matched that of the lobster while the bitter notes were smoothed out. I know that people don’t think of Vernaccia as a wine to age too long but I had very good success with this one. It was also made by a friend, Barbara Tamburini, but I don’t think that’s why it was better than the others. I think it was just a good wine.
It’s Thursday and that means indigenous varieties over here at Avvinare. The latest grape that I’ve learned about is called Bonamico nero. It hails from Tuscany, specifically from the area around Pisa. It tends to be cultivated in the plains and lower hills. It is a blending grape that is quite vigorous but has little color.
The leaning tower of Pisa is undoubtedly one of the great sites. Yes, it is touristy but it’s also incredibly beautiful. Pisa is in fact, a very lovely city that is often overlooked except for this building.
The entire complex around the Duomo, the Campanile and the Camposanto is magical in my view. You can also see the complex from the highway which always amazes me.
I love the altar inside the Duomo that was created by Andrea Pisano.
Sculpture is one of my great loves thanks to early teachings and learning with my mother who is a sculptor. Something about the Pisano carvings is just so miraculous. The last time I visited Pisa some years ago, I didn’t stop to drink or eat anything but the Colli Pisani are making some interesting wines.
At Vinitaly this past year, I finally had the occasion to wines by two of Campania’s most famous women: Marisa Cuomo and Silvia Imparato from Montevetrano. Truth to be told, I had tasted a number of Marisa Cuomo wines at the Luca Maroni shows in New York but this was the very first time I tried the wines of Silvia Imparato.
I actually know her lovely daughter Gaia through mutual friends in Milan and had been hearing about her wines for the past 15 years. She wines using a blend of international and indigenous varieties. I tasted two vintages of her Colli di Salerno the 2007 and the 2008. The blend was 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, and 10% Aglianico. The wine ages for 12-14 months in French oak and then spends six more months in the bottle before release.
The wine was a deep, rich and sensual one with good acidity and red fruit flavors. They were quite full bodied and had a nice mineral note to them as well thanks to the rich fossil soil on which they were grown. I was very impressed with the finesse of these wines and can well see why they are such a hit with the international crowd.
Marisa Cuomo on the other hand, uses only indigenous grapes. The Furore Bianco was made from 50% Biancolella and 50% Falanghina. It had great acidity despite its 13.5% alcohol content and was floral and elegant. The Furore Rose Costiera d’Amalfi was a blend of 50% Piedirosso and 50% Aglianico. The wine spent 10 hours macerating on its skins. It was a burst of raspberries and strawberries and was just divine as are all of their wines.
The Gran Furor Divina Costiera has been around since 1942 but in 1980, Andrea Ferraioli and his wife, Marisa Cuomo took it over. I’ve never been to Furore but it sounds fabulous with those picturesque terraces with ungrafted vines…I see a trip in the future.