4 Hidden Gems of Italian Wine

Italian wine is often boiled down to Prosecco, Chianti, Pinot Grigio, Asti and Moscato. This is not something we can let lie!

Oh no, in this week’s blog we’re getting Dave to delve behind the scenes of Italian wine making and come out with some amazing techniques and styles.

Look for the natives

Italy is full of native wine varieties so you don’t need to jump on the Chardonnays and the Sauvignons. This is especially true for white wine.

Although you CAN get Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and a host of others in the north east of Italy, why would you need to when they have Soave. Soave is an incredible wine made with the native Garganega grape.

The best way I’ve ever seen this described was like a great white burgundy, but much cheaper. Great value I say!

My personal favourite is Gavi (in fact the Manfredi Gavi di Gavi is amazing). Gavi is made from Cortese and produces a very citric wine with a lot of lime zest flavours. Great for summer.

This is only half the story though. With Trebiano, Fiano, Verdicchio, Frascati, Pecorino and Greco all available why settle for the mundane?

The DOC(G) only tells half the story

The Italian denominations system has come to the fore in recent years with more and more people clamouring for Prosecco. With the public learning a bit about the ‘rating system’ for Italian wines surely it stands to reason that the best are DOCG and the worst are IGT? Nope, totally wrong, and here’s why.

While it is true that some of the most prestigious wines in Italy bear the DOCG label this only means that they follow a VERY stringent set of rules. However that’s not the be all and end all.

Tuscany brought about the idea of the ‘Super Tuscan’ in the 1970s to usurp the wine bureaucracy in Italy. A top quality wine blend which doesn’t obey the rules of DOCG as the varieties come from outside of Italy.

These Super Tuscans (and wines like this Cabernet di Cabernet) are not DOCG, or even DOC, but they do carry that quality.

There’s some interesting techniques

The sun in Italy gives a lot of scope for making amazing wine, but not just dry wines. Amazing quality wines come from a process called appassimento.

Grapes are dried by leaving them in bamboo racks or on straw mats in the sun. This removes some of the water from the grapes concentrating the sugars.

Amarone Ripasso is made by adding some of the dried grapes and their skins to the rest of the grapes for more intensity and flavour.

Sometimes wines are made using solely the dried grapes. These Passito wines, like Recioto, are dessert wines, sweet and full of flavour, almost like a port.

If you want variety, look to the south

The south of Italy, especially the islands like Sicily give a great amount of variety. This comes from the wealth of varietals grown there as well as the fact that as most wineries are IGT, they can use any varietals they like.

Campania, for example, has an incredible amount of top quality white wines. Falanghina, Fiano and Greco dominate the white wines planted here and are a refreshing change to the barrage of Pinot Grigio in their depth of chracter and flavour.

Puglia is another area where the wine pedigree is great, but the prices are low. Primitivo here is amazing, with some great Nero D’Avolas making their way overseas too.

Finally Sicily, as I spoke about in February, is known as the California of Italy. This is down to the quality, range and style of the wines available here. Gone are the days when Sicilian wines were the bottom of the barrel.

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