Italian Indigenous Varietals: Canaiolo Bianco

Canaiolo bianco is this week’s indigenous Italian varietal. Most people have heard of its more famous cousin, the Canaiolo Nero which is used in a number of well-known Tuscan wines including Vino Nobile di Montepulciano which I was serving on Tuesday.

Canaiolo bianco instead is the lesser known grape but is also grown in Tuscany as well as in Umbria. It is a somewhat neutral grape but does have good structure.

Traditionally is has been used as a blending grape with Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia. It is used in the wines of Oriveto which many a traveler has tasted when visiting that city and its opulent cathedral. I remember very well drinking an Oriveto white while gazing at the cathedral on my first trip to Umbria lo those many years ago. At the time, I had no idea what I was drinking or what grapes it contained, I’d just turned legal in my imbibing odyssey.

Throughout my travels, I have never happened upon a Canaiolo bianco in purezza. I doubt I will but you never know. All of this talk of Tuscany and Umbria is making me want to hop on a plane even though I know they are covered by snow. All the more reason to visit perhaps..

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