This week’s variety is called Impigno Bianco. The name is clearly a family name and is thought to be that of the person who brought this grape to Italy, specifically to Puglia near the town of Ostuni. A white grape it is used for blending generally with other indigenous grapes such as Verdeca, Bianco d’Alessano and Francovidda. It can be found in wines listed under the Ostuni D.O.C. denomination.
It’s nice to write about a grape from Puglia during the summer months. I have such fond memories of a vacation I spent in the Salento and of my visit to Ostuni, the first town I really visited in that part of Italy. We also visited Rosa Marina, the beach nearby. Amazing places to vacation and really enticing on this overcast New York Tuesday. All white, it must have been 50 degrees celsius in the shade that August. I drove to Puglia from Milano with a small group of friends. We spent a lovely week staying in the Salento, eating royally and swimming in the green water that is found all over Puglia. I loved all of it, perhaps not the 3 kg I gained from all that eating but it was such a memorable trip. The people were more than welcoming and the countryside is beautiful but it was the color of the water that I will never forget. I remember seeing pictures of green water thinking it had to be colored or changed on a computer but it actually was that color green. I felt I was swimming in an Emerald. If you ever get the chance to visit the area, don’t pass it up.
I confess – Sauvignon Blanc has really never been a favorite grape of mine. I have assiduously avoided it the way some people avoid Pinot Grigio, thinking erroneously, that I know what I will be getting in the glass. If there is one style of Sauvignon Blanc that I have really stayed away from – it’s that of New Zealand. Recent events and some humbling wine moments however have made me think that perhaps it was time to start over again. Not dipping my toe in the same water or reheating old soup – as they would say in Italy when you try to rekindle a failed relationship. We all know that never works. No I decided to erase any idea of my former self and go right to the heart of the wine style I thought I didn’t like. I went out and bought one from Benziger, much to my surprise. Of course, being in NYC meant it was more in the $17 range than $15 but it wasn’t an expensive wine. I actually really enjoyed it. The lees aging made it more complex on the palate and it paired well with my simple summer dinners and the occasional Peruvian chicken I bring it. It also stayed fresh for a couple of days.
I then remembered a recent tasting of New Zealand wines in April of this year where I tasted a number of wines that I enjoyed including those of Babich, Elephant Hill, and Spy Valley . None of these wines were what I had imagined they would be. They showed much more muted aromas and flavors rather than hitting me over the head with their aromatics.
New Zealand’s attention to purity of fruit and sustainability has always been interesting to me as is their technology but the wines were always second chair. I love that they are committed to “reducing all use of chemicals, energy, water, packaging.” At this last tasting, the wines seemed to show restraint and varietal purity which did actually interest me. I’m not sure if I am changing or if the wines are calming down a bit but whatever the new combination is, it works. I am looking forward to continuing my Sauvignon Blanc exploits. My longtime goal is to have it be a “banker” – always recognizable in all of its forms. We are a long way away from that sadly but I am sure it will be loads of fun getting to my destination.
It’s taken me 11 months to get through posts about Italian grape varieties that start with a “g” and here we are with my last one on Groppello di Revo’. I finished the “F” grapes right before I gave birth to my son last September and his 11 month birthday is tomorrow. Hard to believe all around. Last week I wrote about Groppello Gentile and Groppello Mocasina from Lombardy and the Veneto while today’s Groppello is a totally different grape variety that grows primarily in Trentino in the Val di Non. This area was apparently a very important one for grape growing until the end of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The grape which fell out of favor has seen some renewed interest of late. It is grape that is very tied to the local traditions and pairs well with local foods. I haven’t been to the Trentino in a number of years but have been appreciating the wines since I first discovered them in the late 1990s. Greg Dal Piaz is the expert on this region and I enjoy seeing his amazing photos of the area.