Italian Indigenous Varieties: Ansonica/Inzolia

I wrote this article for Altacucina as part of my Italian grape dictionary. It is amazing that I am still in the first letter of the alphabet. I feel like I have been writing about grapes that begin with the letter “A” for months.

Ansonica Bianca, also widely known as Inzolia, has very different expressions in its two home areas, Tuscany and Sicily. This medium sized grape variety which is yellow green in color is quite vigorous and grows well in hot, arid climes. It can be vinified as a mono-varietal which is what generally happens in Tuscany or as a blend, a more common practice for this wine in Sicily. It is also used as the base wine to make the aperitif Vermouth as well as the sweet wine called Marsala from Western Sicily.

In Tuscany, this grape grows on the Monte Argentario coastline, a gorgeous location in lower Tuscany. Some of the well known towns in the area are Manciano, Orbetello and Capalbio. Capalbio is the local hangout of well to do left leaning politicians in Italy. This part of Maremma is not far from Rome. The area is very well known both for its seaside villages, hill towns and ancient Etruscan ruins.

Ansonica also grows on the small island called Giglio which is part of the Tuscan Archipelago and used to be grown on the larger island, Elba. Giglio is a beautiful place where many Romans and Florentines vacation. Ansonica is the principal grape in the recent Costa dell’Argentario DOC or Denominazione d’origine controllata wine.

The vines are all on terraces and harvesting them is a difficult task. Ansonica from Tuscany is fruity and balanced with low acidity and low alcohol.

While no one is certain of its province, it is thought that Ansonica arrived in Sicily with the Normans and then spread to other small areas in Italy. Recently, studies have suggested that it is actually generically related to the Greek varieties, Rhoditis and Sideritis.

To learn more, please look at the Altacucina Society website

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