How Many Delicious Italian Wines Can You Sample in One Afternoon? Thanks to the Gambero Rosso Wine Event in Boston, we’re going to find out!
Let me set the stage. Recently Linda and I attended the acclaimed Gambero Rosso Wine Event in Boston and completely fell in love with several Italian wines and grape varieties that we never knew existed. Why have I been limiting myself to Tuscan reds and northern Pino Grigios when there are so many other unique Italian wines to be sipped, savored and adored? Here’s are some great tips about new trends in Italian Wines.
Imagine a beautiful event hall (Boston’s famed Cyclorama) filled with over 60 boutique wineries from Italy – all anxious for you to try their prized vintages. A bit daunting at first glance, but we marched forward, wine glass in hand, approaching our first table and the smile never left our faces for the next 2 hours! Here’s just a smidgen of what we learned and some of our most favorite tasting discoveries that you’ll want to seek out as well.
Our first big surprise was learning that Puglia (heal of the boot of Italy)
is now the largest wine producing region in Italy.
How could we not know this? The wines we tasted from Puglia were simply delicious and are now on our favored buy list! Have they been keeping these tasty wine varieties all to themselves? Apparently, the growing conditions in Puglia are so challenging with clay, sand, salty breezes, and baking heat, that the grapes that do succeed here have very intense flavor.
I’ve moved wines from the Negroamaro grape to the top of my wine preference list. Negroamaro wines are everything you would want in an Italian; dark, smooth and rich! Negroamaro is a small almost black grape with a big flavor profile that is elegant and silky to the tongue. A perfect dinner wine to accompany a meaty roast, steak, lamb or pork, or to sip with a robust cheese.
Primitivo wines are just a bit lighter, and are reminiscent of a juicy Zinfandel. You’ve probably seen this variety of wine on store shelves being sold under the Layer Cake label. Primitivo makes a great dinner wine that can skirt between selections of most anything you are serving.
Paolo Leo vineyards served us a wonderful Rosarose Brut Rose´, (blended with Negroamaro) which is a bubbly refreshing summer Rose´ with great spirited flavor and is a beautiful pink alternative to Prosecco.
Prosecco Wines of North East Italy
Speaking of Prosecco, oh my! There wasn’t one I didn’t like…although I stayed mostly with the less-sweet brut and new dry brut varieties. Perhaps our favorite stop was at the table of Ruggeri Vineyards from Valdobbiadene (about an hours drive northwest of Venice). We sampled a delicious well rounded Ruggeri Cartizze, and the top of the line Prosecco, Giustine B., which is dedicated to the founder of the winery. It is a bright and complex enough to serve as a dinner wine at a summer soiree. Another Prosecco we particularly liked was from Villa Sandi from Veneto, and you can most likely find this label at most Total Wine & More stores.
Volcano Wines from the Ashes of Mt. Etna in Sicily!
Wines grown in the volcanic soil surrounding Mt. Etna are definitely trending lately, especially since the volcano has come to life again in recent years. We tasted several reds from Tenute Nicosia who is the largest producer of certified organic and vegan wines in Italy with 6 estates in Sicily. Vulka is a particularly popular unoaked red that makes a great summer wine selection. A bonus is that grapes grown in the volcanic ash benefit in complexity from the higher amounts of potassium and minerals found in volcanic soil.
Live Longer, Drink Wines From Sardinia!
Sardinia is a lovely Mediterranean island located located off the coast of Naples about midway between Italy and Spain and directly south of Corsica. It enjoys long stretches of beautiful beaches, glistening emerald waters, a fertile interior for farming and citizens there enjoy one of the longest life expectancies in the world. Could this be due to the abundance of fine wines produced here coupled with Blue Zone culinary practices? Worth considering!
Over its long and varied history, many invading civilizations have called Sardinia home and added to its culture. We had the great pleasure to sample three outstanding wines from famed vitners Sella & Mosca.
First came an elegant white, La Cala, that was well balanced, bright, and flavorful. Perfect for summer meals. Next we were introduced to Cannonau de Sardegna that has earned a reputation as ‘the wine of longevity’ because it has a particularly high concentration of Resveratrol. And finally, the hidden gem, Terre Bianche’, that is made from 100% Torbato grape. The Torbato grape was brought to Sardinia during the Spanish period in the 1400’s and has since disappeared from Spain, making Sardinia the only place in the world, and Sella Mosca Vineyards inparticular, to maintain Torbato vineyards. Terre Bianche is a delightfully crisp, flavorful and satisfying white wine.
Come Drink Wine With Me in the Rain!
One wine (and wine maker) inparticular captured our imagination, both in terms of taste and enthusiasm.
At first we were attracted to the table by the brightly colored umbrellas on the wine bottles. Since it was a warm sunny day in Boston, we mistook them for beach umbrellas and asked, “Oh, are these great wines for a day at the beach?”. “Oh no!, instructed Luigi Valori, with a wide grin on his face, this is even better….. Call Me When It Rains!, and we will sip wine together and talk of many things”. Okay, I love this man already!!!
The label is inspired by Luigi’s mantra, with tiny dots of rain falling on colorful umbrellas. In Luigi’s world at the vineyard, when the sun is out there are a million things to do and work to be done in the fields. But when it rains, you have permission to sit back, relax with friends, and drink wine! I will never think of a rainy day in the same way again, thank you Luigi!
The Valori Bio wines are all organic and no matter which of the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo selections you choose, you will be well equipped to sip away the afternoon or evening with friends.
These are just a few of the remarkable wine trends in Italy today brough to us by the wine experts at Gambero Rosso.
We encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and sample some of the unique vintages that Italy has to offer. And if you need a bit of direction, order up a copy of the Gambero Rosso Wine Guide for 2019, Vini d’Italia, the difinitive guide for quality Italian wines and vineyards.