I love eating outside and this weekend is supposed to be really hot so I am only in the mood for whites – particularly sparkling wine, of all kinds. I think your party hosts will agree with me and a bottle of something bubbly will do the trick. There are so many sparklers in the world that I love, Italian and others: Franciacorta, Prosecco, Trento DOC, Champagne, Cava, Blanquette di Limoux, and others. Last week at the Penin tasting I tried many fantastic Cavas and all would be a great choice with your holiday fare. I know I will be toasting with sparkling wine next week. I hope you will too.
In Italy, so many producers are making sparkling wine from indigenous varieties that you really have your pick of wines. I am excited to hear what you will be drinking. Cin Cin!
My wine of the week is Ronco del Gelso’s Vigna della Permuta. This wine is made from Malvasia, a grape that I am not usually partial to except when it comes from this particular part of Friuli, Isonzo. Here I find it shows great fruit, minerality, salinity and spice. A powerful combination that makes it a great food wine. I would love to have this wine with Indian food or Sushi. The aromas and flavors are due to the great micro-climate, soils and fresh breezes in this area as well as its proximity to the sea. The winery made it’s first official wine in 1988 when they were producing 3,000 bottles. They now make 150,000 some 28 years later. Most of their wines are whites but they also make a Cabernet and a red blend using Pignolo and Merlot. I tried a number of their wines at a tasting earlier this year and found them all to be beautifully made and elegant wines.
I am back to my indigenous grape varieties series and this week I am writing about Livornese Bianco and Lumassina. The former grape hails from Tuscany which is the site of the picture above. The latter from Liguria which is shown in the picture below.
Neither grape is seen that often but both are only used to make wine rather than existing separately as table grapes. Livornese bianco does not come from the area around Livorno but rather from the one around Massa Carrara, not so far from Liguria in fact. This grape is usually blended with other local white varieties.
Lumassina is instead from the province of Savona in Liguria. It is often blended with another white variety called Bosco. It is a vigorous variety. One winery that is available in the United States that makes Lumassina is Punta Crena. I first met them many years ago at a tasting in New York. They are now brought in by Kermit Lynch so in very good hands indeed.
Lumassina is a great wine to drink with summer fare. It has nice acidity and mineral notes as well as the bitter almond finish typical of many Italian white wines. I have never tried one but it is also supposed to make lovely sparkling wine. Next week I will tackle the Lambrusco family of varieties and then move on to the letter “M” which should take me the rest of the year to complete as there are so many varieties that begin with that letter. I have thus far written 140 posts on Italian indigenous varieties on this blog over the last seven (7) years since I started this project for AltaCucina in 2009. I just found this video where I interviewed Paolo Vannini from Alta Cucina and Luca Maroni. It’s interesting to hear what people thought in 2010.
This week’s wine of the week is from Kenwood Vineyards. They sent me a sample to commemorate a Jack London occasion. Jack London and White Fang and books of that nature remind me of my Dad and my nephew. The wine though was more up my alley. I really enjoyed it and found the Cabernet to be elegant and restrained despite a clear use of oak and the high alcohol content (14.5%). I imagine it is the mountain fruit that allows it to seem restrained and elegant and not overly jammy or pumped up as much California Cabernet seems to me. A friend and I had it with pasta and it didn’t overwhelm our palates. Generally I would expect a California Cabernet to need more hearty fare but luckily this one didn’t. Kenwood Vineyards owns the Jack London Ranch which is located on the western slope of Sonoma Valley in Glen Ellen, California. The soils there are red and volcanic and were first planted in the late 1800’s.