Italy’s indigenous grape varieties include a host of little known varieties which are essentially used as blending grapes. In the interest of completeness, I decided I would mention these on my blog instead of adding them to my dictionary for Altacucina. This is because they are not widely available in the United States nor in Italy for that matter. If and when they are vinified, it is usually for table wines in the local areas where these grapes grow.
The first of the three, Arvesiniadu is a white grape that is grown on the island of Sardinia. It is grown primarily in the province of Sassari but is gradually disappearing. It is consumed locally.
Avana’ on the other hand is a red grape which hails from Piedmont. It was once fairly well known but is currently not very wide spread. An ancient grape, it is first mentioned in 1606. In terms of its origins, the consensus is that it is genetically related to Troyan and Gamay d’Orleans, two French grapes. Researchers think that it migrated into Italy from France when Italy was controlled by the Duchy of Savoy.
In the past it was also eaten as a table grape. The wine is often blended with other varietals from the region such as Barbera, Freisa, Avarengo and Neretto. It makes wine locally under the Pinerolese DOC.
The third of the trio, Avarengo is also a red grape variety from Piedmont. It gets its name from its production capacity. Avarengo comes from the word Avaro which means stingy. This is a stingy variety because it doesn’t produce a lot of fruit and is quite uneven in its producing capabilities. This variety is often blended with Avana’ and Nebbiolo, among others.