Perhaps the most obscure wine making region in all of Italy is the region of Molise. Molise is surrounded by Abruzzo, Lazio, Campania, and Apulia. Until 1963, the region of Molise was part of the same political region as Abruzzo ( Montepulciano d’Abruzzo was discussed in a previous article). In fact, the food and traditions here are closely associated with Abruzzo. Yet, its closeness to both Apulia and Campania lend it a bit of a southern influence. The wines of Molise achieved their own independence in the 1980’s with the creation of two DOCs: Biferno (named after the largest river in Molise) and Pentro di Isernia. These hillside areas receive wonderful sunshine and are sandwiched between the Apennines Mountains and the Adriatic Sea. Biferno wines can be red, white or rosé. The whites are predominantly made from the Trebbiano grape along with the Bombino in smaller proportions. The reds are a blend of mostly Montepulciano with some of the Aglianico grape. Wines from Pentro di Isernia can also be red, white or rosé. The whites are the same Trebbiano-Bombino grape blend, while the reds (and rosé’s) are usually a blend of Montepulciano and Sangiovese. More recently, in 1968 a DOC also called Molise was created. This DOC encompasses the region and allows for white, red, rosé and even sparkling wines.
In the last article, I discussed Recioto della Valpolicella Amarone . While most of the feedback that I received (and I love to get some feedback) was positive, apparently, there is still some confusion on differentiating Amarone from Valpolicella. Based on the name, such confusion is understandable. Although Amarone may be the superior wine, “simple” Valpolicella, however, is a wine worthy of its own discussion and understanding.
In the winter, there is a wine from Italy that really seems to fit the mood of the day. A wine that is contemplative and warming. It comes from the Northeastern corner of Italy, in the Veneto. I am talking about Amarone. The region of the Veneto was discussed in earlier articles on Soave and Prosecco. Amarone is one of the most famous big red wines that are produced in Italy, but surprisingly enough, does not have a long and storied history.
Last month we explored the wines of Mt. Vesuvius in Campania. This article will explore the wines from Italy’s other famous volcano, Mt. Etna. Mt. Etna is in the eastern portion of Sicily. It is the highest active volcano in Sicily at just under 11,000 feet often capped with snow. It is a beautiful place and mystical setting.
In the region of Campania, a wine is made that is a very nice every day wine that sells for a fair price and, in the hands of a few wineries, presents a very good buy. The really fun thing about this wine, however, is the name. I am speaking about Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio. Long before winemakers started putting cute animals on their labels or giving their wines fanciful names in order to market them to the general public, Lacryma Christi wines were flourishing.
Italy is known for many unique and delicious wines. This column has examined many of them. Up until now, however, we have ignored the topic of dessert wines. Many great dessert wines are made in all parts of Italy. Perhaps the most famous and renowned is Vin Santo. The name Vin Santo literally...
With one last column before Christmas and New Years, I would like to continue talking about the wonderful sparkling wines of Italy. This four part series started with the wines of Asti in the Piemonte, then we explored the Franciacorta’s of Lombardia, and the last column discussed the ubiquitous Proseccos of the Veneto. All of these will make tasty and affordable additions to your holiday festivities. In this article, I want to explore a wine that may be one of the most misunderstood wines not only in Italy, but anywhere. That wine is Lambrusco.
Continuing our Italian Sparkling wine Journeys (just in time for the holidays), we will continue to head east thru northern Italy. You may recall we started in Piemonte with Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti. Then traveled east thru Lombardia and their sparkler, Franciacorta. Continuing on east of Lombardia is the Veneto, home to some world class red and white wines and perhaps the best sparkling wine value (along with Cava from Spain) available on store shelves. I am talking, of course, about Prosecco .
Italy makes a wide variety of sparkling wines that are wonderful values and great tasting wines suitable for the holidays. In the last article, we discussed the sparkling wines of Asti in the Piemonte ( Moscato d’Asti and Asti Spumante). I would like to continue to explore the sparkling wines of Italy. The first region one encounters when heading east from the Piemonte is the region of Lombardia.
As the holidays approach many people are looking for a sparkling wine to serve at intimate dinners and large parties. The region of Piemonte produces two that should be on your list: Asti Spumante and Moscato d’Asti. The area called the Piemonte is at the foot of the Alps in the northwest corner of Italy. This region produces many other wines including dry reds and whites and also some sparkling wines. For a more detailed history of the area please see the first part of my three part series on Barolo, the Piemonte’s most famous wine.