My wine of the week for Wine Wednesday is Pugnitello from Fattoria Santa Vittoria in the Valdichiana region near the city of Arezzo.
Pugnitello is a Tuscan grape that has been restored at a number of wineries including Fattoria Santa Vittoria, Agricola San Felice, Azienda Agricola Roccapesta in Maremma and a few others. I first discovered Pugnitello in 2009 at Vinitaly thanks to an enologist that I met who was working with the grape variety. I was lucky enough to visit Fattoria Santa Vittoria last year on a trip around wineries in Arezzo for a book chapter I wrote about those wines.
Pugnitello is a charming wine with aromas of spice and black fruits and a little bit of pepper notes. A very intriguing wine, it is not yet well known outside of Tuscany but some of it is sold into the United States. I really like it and think that those who enjoy wines with a predominance of Petit Verdot and/or Cabernet Franc will also like this wine. The wine is imported by Jan D’Amore.
Wine has been part of Arezzo’s history for centuries. The Greeks were the first to bring the vine to Italy, including the Valdichiana, the valley in and around Arezzo which at the time was primarily known for growing cereals. The people living in this part of the peninsula were the mysterious Etruscans. Amphorae, the double-handled narrow-necked jars, have been discovered in Italy that confirm that grape growing and wine making in the Valdichiana can be dated to the 7th Century B. C.
This area remains famous for its agriculture including cereal grains and cattle, the special breed known as Chianina. The area now is home to a host of grape varieties which grow well both in its hills and in its valleys. Fattoria Santa Victoria actually has an experimental section in which they test different grape varieties to see what can grow well in the region. They showed me with pride the small plants they were growing in the experimental part of the winery and their pride and joy, the Pugnitello grape that Fattoria Santa Vittoria and a handful of other producers are trying to bring back and sell into the market. I hope they succeed. I would love to see more Pugnitello on restaurant wine lists and in retail stores.