Follow me on a wine journey from northern Italy to Sicily. In 1997 I landed in northern Italy to study Italian. Grammar classes completed, I spent the summer travelling by train with the aim of getting as far south in Italy as I could until my money ran out and University started again. The Italian wine selection is my attempt to recreate that journey (without the grimy youth hostels) and create a virtual wine tour you can taste your way through at home. All aboard the wine train!
Bricco Battistina Gavi DOCG
First stop Piemonte, in the north west, is famous for both its whites and reds. Gavi was always a trick question in the wine exams I took – Gavi being the town not the grape! Gavi, made from the Cortese grape, is a dry white with zesty citrus and ripe stone fruit aromas with a good mineral backbone. The locals love to drink Gavi with home-made meat filled, large ravioli. Time to dust off the pasta maker!
Alasia Nebbiolo Langhe DOC
Our second stop in Piemonte is Langhe north and south of the city of Alba. Nebbiolo or Spanna as it is known locally, is king. Nebbiolo is a full bodied red packed with ripe red fruits, sour cherry, spice and toast and structured tannins. A serious ragù (meat and tomato sauce) with pasta is in order to match this wine.
Casa Defrà Sparkling Rosé
The regional train trundles off east. Next stop is Veneto for a fun glass of pink fizz perfumed with aromas of wild strawberries. It is made from 90% Merlot and 10% Raboso. Perfect for aperitif on a sunny day and rather too easy to drink! This wine is a “Spumante” meaning that it has undergone a second fermentation to make it a sparkling wine. This is not a Prosecco – rosé Prosecco has only just been given the go-ahead this year and won´t hit the shelves until the spring. Pre-empt the trend of Italian pink fizz!
La Scoperta Uggiano Chianti Riserva DOCG
We leave the north and head to central Italy and on to the rolling hills of Tuscany for a Chianti Riserva from the south of Florence. Made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo expect lovely juicy cherry aromas, black fruits and spice. Riserva means that the wine has spent time in large oak casks. The aforementioned pasta maker along with a couple of bottles of Chianti were purchased in a Tuscan hill town and strapped to the back of my bike. Only the pasta maker made it back to the UK but the taste of a well deserved glass of Chianti lingers on!
Coste del Molino Verdicchio Classico DOC
Our penultimate stop is to the west of Ancona in Le Marche for a Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi from the historic Classico zone. Verdicchio is a zesty, fragrant floral, unoaked dry white wine which pairs perfectly with fish and seafood. It captures the essence of the Adriatic sea in a glass.
Il Meridione Nero D´Avola Sicilia DOC
Last but by no means least we cross the Straits of Messina to Italy´s bread basket – La Bedda Sicilia! Nero D´Avola from Riesi, the heart of Sicily, is the island´s native, star red grape. Velvety black cherry, plum and bitter chocolate in a glass. Easy drinking and perfect with caponata (slow cooked aubergine and peppers with raisins and pine nuts.)
Salute e Buon Viaggio!
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