Maryland's Premiere Women's Wine Tasting Club

 

 

Southern Italy | August 2017

 




Pack your bags because this month we're headed to sunny southern Italy!

One of the world's leading producers of wine, Italy is unique among wine regions because vines are cultivated nearly everywhere in the country. For many wine-lovers, the south of Italy is uncharted territory. Home to some of the oldest vineyards in the world, it is mostly comprised of little known indigenous grape varieties that date back to Roman or Greek times.

While grapes have been grown here for centuries, the majority of the wine produced was dedicated to bulk juice that was sent north to plump up anemic, cool climate wines. It wasn't until the start of the 21st century that a wine renaissance began. Led by scores of talented and passionate winemakers who have been bringing long forgotten, ancient grape varietals into the spotlight; first with high-quality reds and then, with the introduction of cold fermentation technology, crisp and vibrant whites. From the sun-baked coastline to the icy mountain slopes you will find potent reds and vibrant whites from local varieties like Aglianico and Vermentino. Get ready to learn about new regions and local grapes that you've never heard of!


Where the Grape is Grown
Sardinia – (Sardegna in Italian) Northern Mediterranean island
Sicily – (Sicilia on an Italian wine label) Mediterranean island at the tip of Italy’s boot, produces mostly white wine and Marsala
Calabria – the toe of the boot
Basilicata – arch of boot
Apulia – (Puglia in Italian) the heel of the boot, Salento is located in this region
Campania – ankle region, Fiano di Avellio is the gem from this area

Grapes grown in Southern Italy
Italy is home to very many different grapes, which can be quite confusing. Numerous indigenous varietals are grown in Southern Italy. These are well-suited for the climate, and many of them originated in Greece and Turkey. Growers and winemakers are also experimenting with international varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.

White Grapes
Falanghina – vibrant and flavor-packed
Fiano di Avellino – floral scented, delicate, subtle white from Campania combining lightness and firmness
Greco di Tufo – Substanital white from Campania with flavors of apple peel with mineral depths
Grillo – Sicilian grape with an impressively rich character
Vermentino – light, lemony white from Sardinia

Red Grapes
Aglianico – dark-skinned grape producing wines with a powerful brooding character
Negroamaro – makes rich, roased red wine, esp. important in Puglia
Nero d’Avola – Sicily’s most important red grape produces a smoky wine rich with character
Primitivo (same as Zinfandel) – Big red grown throughout Puglia, much earthier and more structured than Californian Zins

Monica, Malvasia Nero, Calabrese, Prugnolo, Cannonau (same as Grenache), and many more.

Pairing the Wine with Food
Pair southern Italian wines with Mediterranean cuisine, and they’ll be terrific together. Southern Italian reds don’t require fancy preparations; they match best with rustic dishes with plenty of flavor. The acidity and mineral tones found in Southern Italian whites makes them a great accompaniment for seafood.

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