Category Archives: Italian indigenous Grape Varieties

Italian Indigenous Varities: Mammolo Nero from Tuscany

Susanna Crociani

This week’s variety hails from Tuscany and is called Mammolo. It tends to be mostly found in the province of Siena, Lucca and Grosseto. When I think of Mammolo, I think of Susanna Crociani, a producer and friend from Montepulciano. She always reminds people that Mammolo is also the name of one of the Seven Dwarfs, Bashful.

Mammolo is a hardy and somewhat rustic grape that is usually found in blends rather than as a mono-varietal wine.

ConsorzioMontepulcianoIt produces full bodied but not highly alcoholic wines. Mammola also means violet which comes out as the wine made from this grape ages. It is used in a variety of Tuscan DOCs and DOCG wines: Carmignano, Pomino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Rosso di Montepulciano, Chianti, Colli dell’Etruria centrale, Morellino di Scansano, Monteregio di Massa Marittima and Parrina.

Mammolo is a grape variety that also produces a pronounced pepper note when a certain portion is added to a blend. I have always found it one of the components of the Crociani line that I really enjoy.

 

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia Rosa from Piacenza

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This is my 16th and last post in the series on Malvasie. It has been very interesting to see just how many variations there are of this grape from the Malvasia family. This week’s variety is Malvasia Rosa which is a mutation of Malvasia di Candia which I wrote about here. This Malvasia can be found in the province of Piacenza in Val Nure. This wine makes a rose that is fruity and can be made into a sparkling wine, either spumante or frizzante.

This winery. Azienda Vitivinicola Mossi from 1558 which had until 2014 14 generations owning the property. They sold it to a young couple who are continuing the traditions of the Mossi family and are one of three wineries producing wines from this variety. That makes it quite that noteworthy and one that I would love to taste. Maybe the next time I am in that area. Another producer is Azienda Vitivinicola Montesissa. They also make a passito using this grape. What a pleasure these weeks of Malvasia have been. I had no idea it was such an interesting variety.

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia Nera di Brindisi

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This Malvasia hails from Puglia or Apulia as we say in English. It tends to grow around Lecce, Taranto and Brindisi.

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Malvasia Nera di Brindisi which is also sometimes called Malvasia Nera di Lecce, Malvasia di Bitonto and Malvasia di Trani is usually used in rose wines for which the Salento is very well known as well as in red wines blended with other indigenous grapes from the area such as Negro Amaro and Susamaniello. It can be found in a host of DOC wines such as Aezio, Leverano, Copertino, Lizzano, Nardò, Salice Salentino,and Squinzano. Some producers do make a 100% monovarietal.

The variety is quite resistant to hot temperatures which works perfectly in that region which is very hot for much of the spring and summer. It has a think skin and is very sensitive to various diseases such as oidium and botrytis. It makes wines that have good tannins, alcohol and body. It can bring color to the blend but it lacks a bit of acidity. I have had this wine from Cantine San Marzano made with Malvasia Nera.  Tenuta Americo, from Otranto also makes many versions of Malvasia.

I love Puglia, the people, the food, the wines. I spent a week in the Salento in 2002 and it was truly memorable. I felt as if I was swimming in an emerald. I have never seen such green water in my life despite sailing in many parts of the Mediterranean, including Greece and Turkey.

My last trip in 2010 was more wine focused. I used to find that many of the best wines from Puglia don’t make it to the USA and those that do, at times have too much oak. That has changed in recent years and I am happy about it. They have so many fantastic indigenous varieties that I would like to taste without having them layered in oak flavors. It’s all about your personal palate at the end of the day and mine tends to try to stay away from oaky wines, especially if I am having light fare or I am at the beach. I highly recommend traveling there for the wines, the food, the people, the towns and the sea, its the Mediterranean at it’s best.

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia Nera di Basilicata

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While this latest variety, Malvasia Nera di Basilicata, has some of the same origins as the other Malvasias that I have written about, it is said to be less ancient than the white grape versions of Malvasia. This one probably came to Basilicata from nearby Puglia and has a lot in common with Malvasia di Brindisi which I will write about next week and Malvasia di Lecce. This red grape variety tends to be used as a blending grape rather than as a monovarietal. It brings aromatics, alcohol and acidity to the blend. It grow around the cities of Matera and Potenza. It is part of the Grottino di Roccanova DOC, which was given that designation in 2009. It is blended with Sangiovese, Montepulciano and Cabernet Sauvignon in the DOC. This winery, Cervino Vini has a few different versions of wines made with this grape variety as do a couple of other wineries I found. Sadly, none seem available yet in the States.

I’ve always had a thing about Basilicata. Many people know the region because it is home to the city of Matera, a beautiful city and absolutely worth a visit. I used to say I would never leave Italy unless I got to see Basilicata, a way of course of staying for many years. I finally visited in 2002 and remember fondly my trip there. Having just returned from Vinitaly, I am reminded of all the wines that I have tasted over the years with producers from Basilicata, specifically from Lucania.

Sadly none of my pictures of this region are digital so, here I suggest looking up a movie that came out in the last few years about Basilicata – Basilicata Coast To Coast. It will give you a flavor of the rugged landscape. 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.

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia Istriana Bianca (Friuli)

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The first time I tried Malvasia Istriana Bianca was with the owner of Tenuta di Blasig in Friuli. My visit to that winery was also one of my first winery visits for my women in wine blog posts and thus remains close to my heart.

Malvasia as we know can be a white, red or rose grape and is grown throughout Italy. It can also be an aromatic variety or not. This one hails from Friuli Venezia Giulia. It also grows in nearby Croatia.same variety that grows in Friuli under the name Malvasia Istriana Bianca or Malvasia d’Istria. It can be found in the Carso, Collio, Colli Orientali del Friuli, Friuli Aquileia and Friuli Latisana.

Wines made from this variety are not so easy to find in the USA although you can find some. In fact it is easier to find the ones from Croatia.

In terms of the aroma and flavor profile of wines made with this variety, they tend to have good fruit, acidity and lovely mineral notes which I really enjoy. They also always seem to have the bitter note on the finish that is typical of so many Italian white wines. This version of Malvasia works as an aperitif but it would pair very well with pasta, fish or chicken or any seafood dish.

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia di Schierano Nero from Piedmont

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This week’s indigenous grape variety is called Malvasia di Schierano Nero. This aromatic grape comes from Piedmont and produces either frizzante or spumante red or rose style sweet wines. The grapes are occasionally dried and made into a passito style wine as well. The wines are said to be of low alcohol and to pair well with regional desserts. I have never had a wine from this particular denomination but it seems to be relatively popular in the Torino area. I found the names of a few producers and I think I may look them up at Vinitaly in two weeks. One is called Carlin de Paolo while another is Terre dei Santi. The grapes tend to grow near Castelnuovo Don Bosco and some other villages in the Astigiano area such as Albugnano, Passerano Marmorito, Pino d’Asti, Berzano and Moncucco. Another producer is Casa Vinicola Franco Francesco. Cascina Gilli also makes this sweet wine. I have had many of their other wines so I think this may be my first stop. The must be cooled down and then refermented with yeasts in an auto-clave. The cold temperature enables the grapes to keep their fresh, lively, primary aromas of fruit and flowers.

To have the Malvasia di Castelnuovo don Bosco DOC designation which includes sweet, sparkling, red and rose wines, the wines must be made from 85% Malvasia di Schierano grapes. This area of Piedmont is farther inland and has higher elevations. The climate is more Continental than Mediterranean and the grapes retain their freshness. I always feel that Piedmont is one area of Italy that I haven’t spent enough time in. Turin, like Milan, is a city that has undergone many changes throughout the areas. It is a city that surprises you and offers unexpected beauties. I think maybe I am due for a visit. I have some friends who live there so it could be the right time. Perhaps later this Spring. Five more Malvasia varieties to describe. This is my 169th post in this series….

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia di Sardegna Bianco

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Today’s indigenous variety is Malvasia di Sardegna Bianca. This Malvasia can be found in two DOCs, Malvasia di Bosa and Malvasia di Cagliari. Both of these areas are in the province of Cagliari in Western Sardinia. They were each awarded their DOC designation in 1972. There are various versions of Malvasia di Bosa, some sparkling, some dry, some sweet, others oxidized and still others fortified.

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One of the producers of Malvasia di Bosa makes his wine aging it under yeast with flor. This oxidative style is what they are known for Cantina Giovanni Battista Columbu. Another well-known winery from Bosa is Azienda Agricola Silattari. They have a historic property from the 1700s. Although the winery has a long history, they are not resting on their laurels. The two people running it now have a project to create a community of people who become “owners’ of some of the vines on the property. They come, work on the vineyard and eventually leave with their bottles of wines, the project Ofelia as it is known is very interesting. Apparently so many tourists visit the property that they came up with this idea. I have never tried this Malvasia but look forward to trying it at Vinitaly. As I write these posts on all the different types of Malvasia in Italy, I am struck at how important this variety is in so many regions of Italy. All of the information in this post is new to me. I had never heard of Malvasia di Bosa.Western Sardegna though as always been on my radar mostly because it is very beautiful and is also home to Vernaccia di Orestano and a series of mines that have lunar like landscapes.  Just like Malvasia, Vernaccia can be oxidatively aged in barrels under flor. The barrels, just like with some versions of Malvasia are not filled to the brim. The aromas are almond, nutty and yeasty.

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The Sardegna tourist board also posted the above picture of the area. It looks amazing and I would love to visit. I was in a different part of Sardegna in 2015 and it is just incredibly beautiful. I can’t wait until my next trip.

 

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