Category Archives: Italian indigenous Grape Varieties

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia del Lazio

Fountain in Piazza Navona - Rome

This week’s grape variety is called Malvasia del Lazio. It as you can imagine, grows primarily in the southern Italian region of Lazio, of which Rome is the capital. It is sometimes also referred to as Malvasia puntinata because of the small dots on the grape. Usually this grape is blended with other varieties, Trebbiano and other Malvasia varieties. It brings color, distinct aromatics, and finesse to the blend. It has a lot of sapidity, minerality and lovely floral aromas. It can be seen in the following DOC wines: Bianco Capena, Cerveteri, Colli Albani, Frascati, Marino and Montecompatri-Colonna. I once wrote a post about Malvasia Puntinata which you can read here.

lazio

Lazio is truly a forgotten region in my view in terms of their viticultural offerings. I have written often about their wines because it is a personal passion and I have dear friends in Rome so I get to visit frequently and am introduced to new producers through these friends. It’s hard to find wines from Lazio in the states but it is possible. Here are some that are available stateside.

I have tried a number of wines made with this particular Malvasia and one I really enjoyed was the Pallavicini dessert wine called Stillato, made from 100% Malvasia del Lazio. It is simply a symphony in your mouth with notes of apricot, tropical fruits, honey and vanilla. Approximately 25% of the wine is partially fermented in barriques made from Acacia wood which gives it a honeyed complexity on the palate. The Pallavicini make a very wide range of white and red wines. A fascinating family history goes along with that storied Roman name and great wines.

tenuta-pallavicini-in-lazio

Leave a comment

Filed under Indigenous Italian Varieties, Italian DOC Wines, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, lazio, wines

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia Bianca di Basilicata

250px-Italy_provincial_location_map.svg

This week’s variety is called Malvasia bianca di Basilicata. It is usually blended with other grapes, particularly with Moscato. One can find it in some of the DOC wines in Matera. For example, Matera Bianco. It must be made from a minimum of 70% Malvasia bianca di Basilicata. To make a sparkling Matera DOC, 70% must be Malvasia di Basilicata. Like many of the other Malvasias we have seen, this one also is said to hail from Greece from the city of Monemvasia in the Peloponnese. Malvasia is often used as a term to denote wines that are sweet, aromatic and not too alcoholic. This variety used to be used in Aglianico but now is found mostly in the white blends. Basilicata is a fascinating region and one that I would love to go back to visit. I went to Matera many years ago and was quite taken with it. It is very rugged. Some 47% of Basilicata is covered by mountains and it has two coastlines, one on the Ionian Sea and the other on the Tyrrhenian Sea. In fact, Basilicata for me was something of a jumping off point or better, an arrival. I always said I couldn’t leave Italy until I visited Basilicata. Then I went and still didn’t leave for three more years. I will have to scan my photos of that beautiful region but suffice it to say that it is still very much as it was centuries ago. There is a great movie that takes place in Basilicata that came out some years ago called “Basilicata Coast to Coast.” I loved it although some said it was a bit sentimental. Then again, so I am.

Leave a comment

Filed under Basilicata, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, Memorable Events

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia Bianca B.

sicily

This week’s variety hails from Southern Italy. It is called Malvasia Bianca B and is a biotype that is not related to other Malvasias. This one grows in Sicily, Calabria, Campania and Puglia, specifically in the provinces of Brindisi, Catanzaro, Cosenza, Crotone, Lecce, Siracusa, Vibo V., Avellino, Caltanissetta, Catania, Enna, Reggio Calabria, Salerno, and Trapani. It is used in the DOCs from Donnici, Savuto, Pollino, S. Anna di Isola di Capo Rizzuto, Melissa, Leverano, Biferno, Cilento, Castel San Lorenzo, Scavigna, Lamezia, San Vito di Luzzi, Verbicaro, and Bivongi. It is also usually blended with other grapes and brings a pleasing roundness and freshness to the blend. Low in alcohol, it does however, retain good acidity.

I am having a hard time writing a wine blog in this period I confess when the news is so fast moving and for me, upsetting. Luckily this week’s grape hails from a place that I wanted to write about anyway. Sicily. Why do I want to write about Sicily? Because of the number of refugees that they are rescuing on a daily basis from the sea. While our government has shut it’s doors and officials appear to have handcuffed a five year old girl, the Italian coast guard off the coast of Sicily have been doing their job and trying humanely to rescue people. Certainly this was unexpected for them and surely not what they want to be doing on a daily basis but when confronted with the level of despair they see, they are going above and beyond. Would that our government had a 100th of the humanity these people are showing. There are so many articles that I could post and videos of people being saved from the sea. Men, women and children who are desperate. Many do not end up with better lives in Italy or Europe so you can imagine how bad it is where they are fleeing from. Those who seem unmoved by the refugee crisis I guess think that could never happen to them or their families or people they love. While that is of course not true as anyone who has lived through a war, a hurricane or other natural disaster can tell you, the ability to put yourself into someone’s shoes even for a moment should be enough. There I have said my piece for today. As the grandchild of refugees from Nazis and pogroms in Russia and Poland, I cannot and will not stay silent.

Leave a comment

Filed under Italian DOC, Italian DOC Wines, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Sicily

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia Nera from Bolzano

italy 600

This week’s indigenous variety is called Malvasia Nera, one of the many in the Malvasia family of grapes. I will be writing about Malvasia for many weeks to come. This first one is thought to have been brought introduced in the Veneto by Greeks in the 13th century, specifically the cities of Monebasia from which it’s name is derived. It was grown in Trentino Alto Adige, particularly in Terlano, Bolzano and Valsugana.

This variety makes a wine with good acidity and few tannins. It can be made into a monovarietal or blended with other grapes. It is seen in the province of Bolzano, Arezzo, Salerno, Nuoro, Cagliari, Sassari and Oristano. This Malvasia Nera needs to be distinguished from the other Malvasia Nera Lunga which is used in Piedmont and the Malvasia Nera from Brindisi used in Puglia or the Malvasia Nera from Basilicata.

Lots to learn as we discover the Malvasia family.

Leave a comment

Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Memorable Events

Vermentino, the perfect coastal white wine from three Italian regions: Liguria, Tuscany and Sardinia

Ligurian Hill Towns

Vermentino is one of Italy’s great grape varieties. It is the perfect white wine to sip on a beach, have as an aperitivo or pair  with wonderful seafood. To me it spells summer, sailing and relaxation. Vermentino can be found in a number of different regions in Italy including all over Liguria, pictured above.
Liguria
It grows from North to South in Liguria, both along the coast and inland. Some of the most famous wines made in Liguria from Vermentino are from the Colli di Luni, pictured in the distant hills.
liguria-alpe-apuane
Vermentino is also widely grown in Tuscany, in Maremma, along the coast and a bit inland. I have had a number of wonderful Vermentinos from Maremma including some from Suvereto, right in front of the Archipelago of Elba. This particular wine is made by a friend, Barbara Tamburini at Gualdo del Re. They can’t produce enough of it according to Nico Rossi, the owner. It flies off the shelves. I certainly can understand that. Vermentino has enough fruit and floral aromas, acidity and minerality that it goes down quite quickly and one glass leads to another pretty seamlessly. I was told recently that a big Tuscan producer who shall remain nameless believes so highly in the grape that he was planning to plant an extra 50 hectares rather.
etichetta_valentina
When speaking about  Vermentino however we must always remember to mention Sardinia where it holds a distinctive DOCG denomination in Gallura.  Vermentino also grows on Corsica but that doesn’t come into our discussion. It does however make the cut for Benvenuto Vermentino, a festival now in its third year celebrating Vermentino from around the Mediterranean.
argiolas
Vermentino is a great grape variety that should be on your radar and there are as you can see many places to choose from. It is quite versatile and easy to pronounce as well so I think it can have a great future both on American wine lists and as a by the glass pour in many a wine bar. Vermentino from Sardinia tends to have more salinity and to be a bit more full bodied. I have had sparkling, still and late harvest versions of this great grape. I look forward to having many more.
Join us today, Saturday January 7th for a live Twitter chat at #ItalianFWT 11am ET about Coastal White and Red Wines, Foods and Travel along Italy’s long coastline.
Avvinare – Vermentino the perfect coastal white wine from three Italian regions: Liguria, Tuscany and Sardinia
Vino Travels -Negroamaro of Salice Salentino with Leone de Castris
Food Wine Click – Swordfish Pasta with a Not So Crazy Sicilian Red

The Wine Predator – Sicily: Global and Coastal Influences Flavor Four Dishes Paired with Wine
L’Occasion – The Terraced Vineyards of Liguria
Enofylz Wine Blog – A Ligurian Red Blend: 2015 Liguria di Levante Rosso

4 Comments

Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, italy, Liguria, Memorable Events, Sardinia, Travel, Tuscany, wines

Italian Indigenous Grape Varieties: Magliocco Canino Nero from Calabria

Tropea 2

I haven’t visited Calabria in many years and the last time I was in Calabria was 2003. I went to see two beautiful men, the Bronzi di Riace, in Reggio Calabria, took a local train to Tropea, a lovely town on the coast, and went swimming in the cleanest water I have ever seen at Scilla. What I remember from that trip was the beauty of land and the spiciness of the food. Calabria is home to some of the world’s most famous peperoncino. What I didn’t remember at all were the wines and not because I didn’t drink them but because they left me without any lasting memories.

180px-reggio_calabria_museo_nazionale_bronzi_di_riace1

The only winery I had heard of at the time was Librandi, a leader and a great winery. In 2011 I was invited to an amazing vertical tasting of their wine “Magno Megonio,” another post that ought to be written.

Since that time, things have changed and I have discovered many wines from Calabria often based on a blend of Gaglioppo and Magliocco. This week’s variety is Magliocco Canino Nero which is found in Calabria, mostly along the coast in the provinces of Cosenza and Catanzaro however it can also be found in Le Marche and in parts of Sicily.

Tropea 3

Some years ago at Vinitaly I attended a long tasting of wines based on Magliocco under the denomination Terre di Cosenza. There are a variety of wines that are governed by this new DOC including a red, a white, a rose’, a sparkling white and a sparkling rose’and a wine called “Terre di Cosenza DOC Magliocco”. There is also the possibility to make novello, red and white passiti, and red and white late harvest wines in the new legislation as well as a riserva version of the red wine and the Magliocco. There is also an additional “sottozona” or area that can be indicated on the wine – “Colline di Crati” to indicate a specific part of the viticultural area where the grapes can be grown.

Terre di Cosenza

For the red version of Terre di Cosenza DOC, wineries must use:
Magliocco (a minimum of 60%) while the Rose’ must be a created from the following grapes either individually or blended for a minimum of 60%:
Greco nero, Magliocco, Gaglioppo, Aglianico, Calabrese.

White Terre di Cosenza DOC is made from Greco bianco, Guarnaccia bianca, Pecorello, Montonico (locally Mantonico), alone or together they must be 60% of the blend.

Both the white and rose versions of the sparkling wine must be made from 60% Mantonico and “Terre di Cosenza” Magliocco must be made from 85% Magliocco.

There are a variety of wines that are governed by this new DOC including a red, a white, a rose’, a sparkling white and a sparkling rose’and a wine called “Terre di Cosenza DOC Magliocco”. There is also the possibility to make novello, red and white passiti, and red and white late harvest wines in the new legislation as well as a riserva version of the red wine and the Magliocco. There is also an additional “sottozona” or area that can be indicated on the wine – “Colline di Crati” to indicate a specific part of the viticultural area where the grapes can be grown.

In terms of climate and exposition, the entire Calabrian peninsula is surrounded by the sea, both the Ionian and Tyrrhenian sides of the Mediterranean. The area near Cosenza, however, does have higher elevations than some of the other DOCs in Calabria. The climate is Mediterranean near the coast and becomes more Continental as you move inland, I was told.  Calabria suffers from drought but the grape varieties grown in this area are well suited to the particular micro-climate and are able to ripen thanks to good thermal excursion between day and night temperatures.

Terre di Cosenza DOC wines

Wines made from Magliocco tend to be quite dark in color because of an elevated amount of polyphenols in the grape and tannic with good acidity and structure. This enables them to potentially age well. It produces a full-bodied wine and tends to work best in blends.

While Calabria is still not on the beaten path, the attention that they are now devoting to their wines deserves to be recognized. If you can see the Bronzi di Riace and also swim in that beautiful sea at the same time, I think you will feel very satisfied with a trip to Calabria, a feast for the stomach, the heart and the soul. Salute!

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Adventures in Winemaking: Super Teaneck 1st Vintage, Calabria, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian indigenous varieties, Italian regions, wines

Wine Wednesday: Coimbra De Mattos 1858 Port Valriz

17

Coimbra De Mattos was one of the older estates I visited during my trip to the Douro Valley in September. The family has 55 hectares and produces port wines and still wines from a host of indigenous grape varieties. The sell their port wines under the brand Valriz while their still wines are sold under the brand names Quinta dos Mattos, Quinta de Laceira and Quinta das Condessas.  They have seven quintas as part of the group.

12

The family which has lived in Calafura for over seven generations is a descendant of Francisco Ayres de Carvalho and Maria de Mattos who lived on the property in the 17th century and were focused on viticulture.

8

We tried a number of their wines and ports and I enjoyed many but the stand-out was the 1858 tawny. It was fantastic and had hints of dried fig, nuts, carmel, fresh fruit and even great acidity with a rich long finish. Apparently over the years as evaporation takes place, the acidity becomes even more explosive. It was fantastic and such a treat. In the past I had tasted one older port, Scion, an 1855 port from Taylor Fladgate.

31

What a memorable experience both of these amazing ports were. The family was very generous to share this wine with us, they only have 600 bottles of it.

38

We met this father and son team who share this gem with us. Apparently the older gentleman’s father only opened one bottle of the wine throughout his life, at his wedding.

I also liked their white port which was salty with racy acidity made from Malvasia Fina, Gouveio, Rabigato and Siría.

29

The 20 year old tawny was another standout with dried fruit, vanilla, oak, bramble and nuts on the palate as well as a rich and layered finish. It was made from Tinta Amarela, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca. Apparently Tinta Amarela is a thinner skinned grape than the others. It was the first time during the trip that someone spoke about this particular variety. Tinta Roriz is of course Tempranillo by another name.

28

The 40 year old Port Valriz was also exceptional with great concentration and aromas of coffee, chocolate and dried fruit and nuts. Again, the acidity was surprising and exciting.

3

It was a truly gorgeous location and they showed us photos of how the pipes were brought down the mountain on oxen to the river. It had a lot of history and I was impressed with the owners and their humble approach. I found that at many of the wineries but not all.

11

I  am enjoying looking through  my notes and the photos from this magical trip which was a real gift and a surprise. Feliz Ano Novo!

5

Enter a caption

Leave a comment

Filed under Douro Valley, Memorable Events, Portugal, wine wednesday, wines