My exploration of Italian sparkling wines continues today and this one meets both of my recent topics – sparkling wine and indigenou varieties.
Today’s post is about Vernaccia Nera, a grape I have not yet written about in my Italian indigenous varieties series because I haven’t gotten to the “V” yet. There are three different grapes named Vernaccia in Italy – the first is the most widely known and is a white grape from San Gimignano. The second is Vernaccia di Oristano in Sardinia, also a white grape. The third is called Vernaccia Nera and grows in Central Italy in Le Marche and Tuscany. It is apparently genetically identical to Grenache also called Alicante, Cannonau, and Tai Rosso in different parts of Italy.
I tasted one from Tenuta Stefano Graidi from Serrapertona as part of my celebration of Hanukkah’s fifth night. It is a wine I have been looking to try for a long time and by coincidence a friend gave me a bottle after a tasting in March and I happened to have it in the fridge tonight to try. The wine has been a DOC since the 1970s and became a DOCG in 2004, the same year I became a certified Italian Sommelier with the Associazione Italiana Sommelier.
It is a very special wine that undergoes three fermenttions: The first during the 10-15 days it spends in steel, the second is with the grapes that have been dried using the appassimento method. By law, 40% of the grapes must be dried but this winery uses 50% dried grapes. The grapes can dry in a fruttaio or on the vine. The third fermentation is done in autoclave with the Martinotti method.
The wine was a total surprise to me. It was quite floral, with fruit, pepper, and a balamic note. It was totally unexpected and lovely with freshness, a creamy perlage, and a nice length. The version I tasted was a sweet or dolce version. They also make a drier one. The wine is perfect with cheese and I suspect with charcuterie too. Cheers to the first of many sips of this grape.
The winery was created by a group in 1999 but was bought by the Graidi family in 2016 They are devoted to organic viticultural and dedicated to sustainability and social responsibility. They are located right near one of the national park reserves of the Monti Sibillini. Producers of this wine are looking to make the whole area Carbon Zero in terms of their carbon footprint.
The Vernaccia reminded me a lot of Lacrima di Morro d’Albra, another local red variety from Le Marche. I so look forward to trying other versions of this completely fun wine. Raising a glass to freedom today, Zelensky blew me away in Congress yesterday. Remarkable.