We finally took a glimpse into a remarkable wine region where one of my favorite wines is made (Montepulciano). It is one of the most popular wine regions, the most romantic, and most intriguing winemaking areas in the world… ITALY! Italy is an extremely powerful region due to its heavy wine influence not only in the industry but through its loyal people. A large part of it’s credentialing is due to its vast history in wine making, it’s picturesque towns and vineyards, and proud countrymen known for drinking A LOT of wine especially to complement every meal since Italian food is so irresistible and succulent. In fact, it’s a great thing that Italy is known for their bold and deep bodied red wines since most of their food is pretty heavy and need a sturdy wine to balance out the taste. If you want a nice and heavy chardonnay or Pinot Grigio – go to France however, Italy does make a great sparkling wine from Prosecco!
Like France, Italy also has a classificaiton system that standardizes and enhances the overall qualities of the wine. This will also help you choose a bottle when going into a store and most certainly will dictate the price…
Italy’s Classification System:
- Vino da Tavola – Table wine made from a local winery with little to no standards; The Italy wine you find in jugs
- I.G.T – Denotes wine from a specific region in Italy; higher quality than table wines
- D.O.C – More defined than table wine and IGT; grapes are more specifically defined
- D.O.C.G – Similar to D.O.C the main difference is the DOCG needs to pass a blind taste test!
Tastings (wine’s I liked BOLDED)
Piemonte, Campari – Retails $22 (1st used in 1860 as medicine/tonic/digestive drink)
- Notes: Smells citrusy; flavored alcoholic beverage with a distinct bitter flavor
- Pairings: Usually mixed with soda water, grapefruit juice etc. sipped before dinner to gain an appetite or after dinner with a nice hard cheese – I will definitely serve this before dinner at a dinner party!
Fiano di Avellino, Feudi di San Gregorio 2008 – Retails $22 (Campania, Italy – Fiano Grape)
- Notes: Smells very fruits almost like rich fruit juice; tastes stoney, with fruity long lasting finish, Bright and fruity with lemon
- Pairings: Since it’s a medium bodied dry and elegant wine you could drink it with any sort of Mediterranean dish!
Orvieto Classico, ‘Poggio Calvelli’, La Carraia 2009 – Retails $20 (Umbria, Italy – Grechetto, Trebbiano, Chardonnay Grapes)
- Notes: Smells of apple and bright citrus; tastes light with acid, green apple, bitter, stoney and a very refreshing white wine
- Pairings: Great with an assortment of medium tasting cheeses – not too intense
Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Le Rote 2009. – Retails $14 (Toscana, Italy – Vernaccia Grape)
- Notes: Old apple, floral and crisp smell; tastes sort of like a good Cali Savu. Blanc, very acidic with over ripe fruits and a woody taste
- Pairings: Delicious with grilled chicken, assortment of medium-heavy cheeses
Dolcetta d’Alba, ‘Madonna di Como’, Marchesi di Barolo 2009 - Retails $25 (Piemonte, Italy – Dolcetto grape: lightest Italian grape) **Alba = Truffle region!
- Notes: Smells of light cherry and berries; tastes have tannin, light berries, sour cherry, bright clean red wine similar to a light French red
- Pairings: This medium bodied wine that is very well balanced would go with a simple pork dish
Aglianico del Vulture, Pian del Moro, Musto Carmelitano 2007 – Retails $35 (Campania, Italy – Aglianico Grape)
- Notes: Smells smokey, earthy, dark cherry, plum; tastes a little chewy, tannins, rich dark wood and cedar, dried plums and smoking cherry stand out most
- Pairings: This wine would go amazing with chocolate and hard cheese, big meats
Chianti Classico, ‘Aziano’, Ruffino 2008 – Retails $17 (Toscana, Italy – Sangiovese Grape) – 13% Alcohol
- Notes: Smells of black cherries with a hint of chocolate; Taste is a light simple red wine with astringent tannin
- Pairings: Amazing wine with pizza, simple pasta with tomato sauce – great price for a everyday well balanced wine
Brunello di Montalcino, Cantine di Palazzo, Altesino 2004 – Retails $53 (Toscana, Italy – Sangiovese Grosso Grape)
- Notes: Smells very woody, rich with dark fruits; considered an “ambassador” of top quality Italian wines – tastes very rich in dark fruits, full of tannins with a balance of acidity
- Pairings: A great pairing with rich dishes such as beef stew and barbecues
Valpolicella Classico Superiore, ‘Campo Santa Lena’, Villa Monteleone 2007 – Retails $16 (Veneto Italy – Corvina Grape)
- Notes: Smells of dark fruits, dark cherry; Tastes very rich, dark fruit with a long lasting after taste, tannin that is strong and young in taste
- Pairings: Hard italian cheese for an after dinner bite
Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, I Saltari 2001 – Retails $60 (Veneto, Italy – Corvina Veronese, Rondinella, Molinara Grape)
- Notes: Rich smells of dried plums and dried out grapes; rich in taste, earthy, oaky, dried fruit
- Pairings: Great with an assortment of hard cheeses
- Notes: Brandy in smell, old dry gentle fruit; Tastes full of tannin, raisin, plumy
- Pairings: Pairs well with veal or a stew