Heading due east from Rome lays the region of Abruzzo. This is a historically poor region whose people inhabit the hills and mountains so prevalent in the province. The people are proud and independent. They resemble the peoples of Italy’s southern regions in attitude and aptitude. Likewise the food and wine cultures reflect that lack of affluence centered on a hard working community. The hillsides are excellent for viticulture. The most popular red grape is the Montepulciano although many other grapes are grown here most notably Sangiovese.
This is the third installment of my three part series on Barolo. In part one we looked at the wine and its history , in part two we examined the modernist versus traditionalist debate , and in this part we will look more closely at some of the finest vineyards to be found anywhere in the world. Then we will also examine the extraordinary string of good and great vintages Piemonte has enjoyed and that are available on store shelves now.
All over the world, in every winemaking area with at least 30 years of history, there is a squabble going on between traditional producers and modernists. As modern science has begun to understand some of the chemical reactions taking place in the creation of wine, some of the mystery has been removed. Universities all over the world (led in large part by the University of California at Davis) have become leaders in what many have termed the international style of wine.
Writing these articles about both well-known and somewhat obscure Italian wines has been fun. Now, however, it is time to shift it into high gear and discuss perhaps Italy’s greatest wine - Barolo. If there were a competition for the best wine in the world, and each country got one entry, my pick for Italy would be to enter a Barolo. Preferably, an aged Barolo, from a great vintage, made by a traditional producer. I would be comfortable matching these wines up against the best from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Napa or anywhere else in the world. Starting with this article and over the next few articles, the wines of Barolo will be examined including the traditional versus modern debate among producers and the vineyards themselves.
This may be a good time to take a step back from discussing the specific wines of Italy and discuss some of the terms that others and I have been bandying about in these articles. More importantly, this discussion will be useful when trying to read the label on a bottle of Italian wine that you may be contemplating either buying or drinking. Specifically, I would like to address the Italian wine laws that create classifications for wines based upon geographical location.
The region of Umbria sits landlocked in the center of Italy. With Tuscany to the Northwest, the Marches to the East and Latium with Rome to the South West, it is a beautiful region that sometimes gets lost in the conversations about Italy. Umbria has one wine that gets some international recognition; their famous white wine Orvieto. In fact, many agri-tourismo wineries surround the quaint medieval town of Orvieto which has become something of a destination for a few relaxing days while touring Italy. But, there is also a red, Sagrantino di Montefalco, which also hails from Umbria that is worth putting on your radar.
Last month, I wrote about the white wines of Friuli because as summer approaches, many of us are on the lookout for tasty and interesting white wines. This month, I would like to continue talk about white wines from Italy, this time from their neighbors in the Veneto.
Summer is approaching and like many wine buffs, my thoughts turn to refreshing white wines. My wife and I love to drink them on the front porch watching the sun descend after a day of work and continue with them at the dinner table. There is a wide variety of wonderful whites made all over the world. Some of the best values and best white wines in general hail from the northern regions of Italy. Some of the best of the best of those come from the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.
This is exciting. Being a part of a new Internet adventure and being asked to write about my favorite wines, wines from Italy. In some ways this is an easy task as I really love these wines and they make up such a vast component of my cellar. In other ways, this is quite difficult. Perhaps no region in the world has more diversity than Italy. From internationally appreciated wines that belong in every connoisseur’s wine cellar to some of the most obscure grapes on the planet, Italy produces a cornucopia of wines. In the coming months I hope to expose you to new regions and old regions producing wines that provide lots of drinking pleasure at a reasonable cost.