From our Hang Time tasting on Thursday, July 28, 2016…
We last visited Italy in late April, tasting a range of wines from all over the country. Today our focus is a little narrower, with most of our wines coming from a swath of land in the middle of the country. To keep things simple, we’ll start with the outlier.
The Veneto in the Northeast is known for its whites, both still and sparkling (Prosecco). Boira’ Pinot Grigio 2015 is the sibling of the ERA Pinot Grigio we tasted back in early June; it, too, is organic. Grapes are grown in limestone-rich soils and are fermented and aged in tank to produce an aromatic wine with floral notes, pears, apricots and an almond finish. It is fuller and less citrusy than many Pinot Grigios, and can be enjoyed with seafood.
Tuscany is best known for red wine, but it also has good whites and rosatos. La Lastra Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2015 comes from Italy’s first DOC (1966), now a DOCG. Grapes for this wine come from a 30-year-old vineyard outside the town of San Gimignano near Siena. It’s quite a distinctive wine—complex fruit, flower, and mineral aromas, crisp and refreshing flavors, and a slightly bitter note to the finish. Pair with antipasti or pasta and pesto, or serve as an aperitif on a hot, muggy day. On to the pink! Some 200 years ago, the Moris family left Spain and settled in the Tuscan Maremma. Their large estate makes wine (the current focus); grows olives, wheat, legumes, and oil seed; and provides a home for wild game and truffles. A few years ago, they began making a rosato from Sangiovese. The Moris Farms Mandriolo Rosato 2015 is a flowery, fruity expression of the grape associated with Chianti and it’s very nice with appetizers and fish.
We’ll take a trip to the Adriatic coast on the eastern side of the boot for our next wine. The Feudi del Duca Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2014 is produced in the Abruzzo region, where the mountains that form Italy’s spine lead to coastal plains. This father-son effort is an easy-drinking pizza and pasta wine that has the stuffing to partner bigger dishes like lasagna or an array of cheeses.
Back we go to the west, to Umbria, a landlocked region that has labored vinously in the shadow of its northern neighbor Tuscany. Exciting developments are taking place these days. While the white wines of Orvieto are generally known, reds are starting to make a name for themselves internationally. Argillae Sinuoso 2013 is a fifty-fifty blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. If you were to taste it blind, you probably wouldn’t guess it speaks Italian. It’s rich and ripe but not over the top, broad in aroma and flavor, well structured but soft. It can partner with an entire meal, from cold cuts and medium-aged cheese to venison or game and beyond.