Category Archives: Italian indigenous varieties

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia di Sardegna Bianco

Malvasia

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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Filed under Italian Indigenous, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian indigenous varieties, Sardinia, Vinitaly, wines

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia di Lipari

sicily

This week’s indigenous variety is Malvasia di Lipari. Like all of the other Malvasia varieties, this ne is also part of the Malvasia family. Lipari is a beautiful island in the Aeolian Islands. Malvasia di Lipari is usually made into a sweet wine. The grapes are harvested late and usually dried for a brief period on mats before being made into a sweet wine. The wine is golden and fascinating and exquisite.

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Florio, part of the Banfi portfolio makes this particular Malvasia di Lipari and is widely available in the US.

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I spent an amazing week sailing around the Aeolian Islands some years ago. It was an incredible experience. These volcanic islands are fascinating for their beauty, beaches, wines and food. I loved it and will always remember it. I can’t wait to go back some day.

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Maiolica Nera

Happy New Year. This year I am going to try to be very prolific on this blog and write about all the wines I have tasted and been sent over the past years. Let’s see how much I get done. This is also the year of wine grapes with the letter “M” on Avvinare. There are many of them and I believe it will be 2018 before I get to the letter “N.” I look forward to the journey.

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This week’s indigenous variety is Maiolica Nera which grows mainly in Abruzzo, in  Le Marche and in Umbria. The word Maiolica to me used to mean ceramics before I heard of this particular grape variety. It is usually blended with Montepulciano, the signature red grape from Abruzzo.

It is not a very tannic grape and doesn’t have a lot of acidity but it brings floral and spicy notes to the blend.

I haven’t visited Abruzzo in a long time but I think I am due for a visit. I need to put that on the calendar for 2017, along with many other things. So much wine, so little time….

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

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Indigenous Italian Varieties: Lambrusco Maestri

emilia romagna

This particular variety of Lambrusco hails from the area around Parma, a city I adore. Parma is a beautiful, elegant and I dare say feminine city. I loved the Duomo and the baptistry there done by Antelami. The province of Parma runs from the Po River to the Appennines, separating it from both Lombardy and Tuscany. I loved the paintings in the Duomo as well by
Correggio and Parmigianino. Of course Parma is very famous not only for its Art and music but for its food and wines, the topic of this post. Lambrusco Maestri. It is a hearty and fertile variety that produces wines with full bodied and tannic wines with a depth of color. It is often used to make the sweet and the frizzante versions of Lambrusco. It is considered one of the more prestigious Lambrusco grapes. Maestri has also been grown with success in Argentina and is planted in Australia as well. I would love a glass to celebrate the start of the holiday season today, the first day it is snowing on my blog. Happy December.

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Turbiana

Soils - Lugana

Really looking forward to tonight, tomorrow and Thursday’s events with the Consorzio of Lugana. The grape variety that they use in their wines is called Turbiana. It is closely related to Trebbiano di Soave but not to Verdicchio as was previously thought. It’s a great, mineral, fresh and elegant wine. I can’t wait to drink some and introduce Lugana to friends that don’t know the region. If I am not seeing you later, tomorrow or Thursday in Philadelphia, you still have a chance to try these great wines at the Simply Italian events next week in New York and Los Angeles.

Lugana

I think you’ll come to love Lugana as I have.

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Lambrusco Montericco

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As I said last week, Lambrusco is a subject that is hotly debated online and is one of those topics that seem to have people divided into seriously distinct camps. Personally, I like Lambrusco and always have, even when it wasn’t trendy as it is today. Perhaps it is the year I lived in Bologna, what a wonderful city, or perhaps it is my love of sparkling wine but no matter the reason, there you have it. I am unabashedly a huge fan of Lambrusco. This week’s Lambrusco is Lambrusco Montericco, A red grape that is grown in the province of Reggio Emilia. It is sometimes vinified as a monovarietal but is usually blended with other Lambrusco varieties. I found this winery, Ferrarini, which produces a monovarietal wine from the grape and it is labeled as a DOC. Lambrusco Montericco is said not to have too much structure but great acidity and therefore perfect for frizzante versions of Lambrusco.

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