Raise Your Glass - Wine Flight #007 - Italy Pt 1
Jason Clarke, Wine Contributor
Italy has often been described as the land of wine, for the rich diversity of varietals and the dedication to its cultivation. Italian wines have played such a vibrant role in the global trade of wine, being the second-largest producer, so this week join me on a wine flight to Italy. Now boarding flight #007. Please recline your seat in the most comfortable position, extend your feet and enjoy the flight.
Italy has a rich history of winemaking, spanning well over 2000 years. Up until the late 1980s, believe it or not, a good portion of Italian wines were for domestic consumption and not for export. Producing upwards of 400 million litres, I'd say that italians are some serious wine drinkers. Like France, Italian wine production is highly regulated to ensure and preserve the essence of true winemaking. Again, like france, many Italian wines follow a similar guide to understanding its labelling. The labels describe where they come from and state the winemaker but not explicitly the varietal as we are accustomed to seeing on many of the Californian, Argentinian or Australian wines.
Some of the more popular varietals include Sangiovese, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Primitivo (reds) and Pinot Grigio (white) which make some supremely delicious wines. Italian wines (by region) that you may typically tend to encounter are Chiantis, Amerone, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
As we head into the heat of summer, which we are already beginning to feel on the day we are not blessed with a little afternoon rain, Italian whites like a pinot grigio or a prosseco (sparkling) are absolutely perfect. Although most Italians tend to enjoy food with wine, there are certainly a number of Italian wines that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with food.
Fiordaliso Pinot Grigio has a sense of royalty to it just by looking at the label, which boasts the fluer-de-le which is a well-used symbol for the European aristocracy and wealth. As an aspirational being, I immediately connected with it just from the labelling alone. Fresh notes of apples with subtle hints of pears, this pinot grigio is crisp and clean, which makes it absolutely refreshing. Another great value option is Santa Cristina. Very similar tasting notes and was really great on a hot night. Both these Pinot Grigios pair well with light foods like salads or seafood, and with a fairly low calorie count is ideal for those watching to maintain that perfect summer body.
Prosseco is the Italians rival to champagne and is was made for every day consumption, and significantly cheaper than champagne. For those of us who like champagne but not necessarily the price, a prosseco is the perfect option. Fantinel Prosseco is a perfect option to consider, especially if you are in a celebratory kind of mood. Quite often with sparklings, you may not always finish the bottle, and after a few days it loses the bubbles that tickle your palate. A great morning option if you have leftovers is a mimosa with Sunday breakfast.
For the red lovers like myself, Chiantis are exceptional value as Italian reds. Made primarily from the savigiovese varietal, Chiantis are perfect for a meat lovers Italian night. The Banfi Chianti Classico is a superbly great wine with rich notes of cherries and plums. Another great Chianti is the Bolla Chianti which is just delicate and well balanced.
Have fun with it, and make your own wine night, with good food, great wine and exceptional company.
I am not an expert, merely a wine enthusiast sharing my thoughts and experiences. Feel free to share your own experiences at firstname.lastname@example.org.