Molise: Underrated Wine Regions of Italy

Have you ever noticed that wines from Molise just don’t there fair shake? I know I have. Molise may not have any DOCG wines, a list which has seen its members swell exponentially in recent years but it does have three DOC wines that should be on your radar: Biferno DOC made around Campobasso, Pentro DOC made around Isernia, and Molise DOC which can be made from grapes grown all over the region.

The only winery most people know from Molise is Di Najo Morante. I first discovered this wine in Italy during tastings held by the Italian Sommelier Association. I remember a friend working their table and being truly interested in these wines. In a room with 100 wines that day, they were the only producer from Molise. The same is true on most wine lists today.

A great winery, don’t get me wrong, but not the only one in Molise that we should know about. I discovered another winery years ago at Vinitaly that truly impressed me, Cantina D’Uva. They specialize in wines made from Tintilia, an indigenous variety that comes only from Molise. A very cool thing indeed to discover this wine, rediscover this region and meet Maria Teresa from this winery, perfectly in line with my two main themes: women in wine and indigenous grapes.

The wine was intense and persistent with deep berry flavors and floral notes and a hint of spice. I found it sexy and inviting and was reminded of a weekend I spent in Molise a number of years ago at Termoli. Termoli is a beach town on the Adriatic sea with a lovely walled city center, a mini Gallipoli if you will. The water was so green that I remember feeling that I was swimming in an emerald. I loved the fishing nets that surround the city and the colored walls of the houses and the gleaming stone of the churches. My idea of a beach town. That was my only experience of Molise to date but I intend to go back.

A few years ago I was lucky enough to meet a splendid individual from Molise, Pasquale Di Lena. Pasquale is one of the most knowledgeable people I have ever met about Italian wine and food, with a particular passion for his home region of Molise. We worked together on an event for the Casa Italiana Atletica. He’s like the Fred Plotkin of Molise. Infact, Fred introduced us.

He was so incredibly interesting that I hope our paths cross again. He was able to transmit to me a love and a profound curiosity for this undiscovered region. Pasquale reminded me that Molise is renowned not only for its wines but also for its olive oils and for their pasta, La Molisana. I really hope to visit this region again one day.

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