Saturday, March 12, 2016

The secret indigenous grape of Molise, Tintilia

Last week our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group (#ItalianFWT) exploerd the region of Molise. I shared one of the major producers of Molise, Masseria Di MajoNorante, and one of their wines Ramitello, a Molise Rosso. This is definitely a region that doesn't get a lot of attention in the world of wines and even so when we talk about Italian wines themselves, but I believe in always exploring the lesser known grapes and helping to educate and open ones eyes to a different grape if you have an opportunity to seek it out.
Mountainous region of Molise by Lucio Musacchio

What is Tintilia?
I mentioned in our online chat last Saturday and also in my article a mention of the native red grape of Molise, tintilia. I don't remember ever having the pleasure to sample this grape and look forward to an opportunity at one point, but it may be a very difficult one to find. Prior to this article you were probably asking yourself, what is tintilia? The sad part is that through all of my Italian wine books that I have none of them mentioned tintilia and even the sections on Molise, if there was one, had very little to say.

The Origins of Tintilia & it's Production in Molise
Tintilia finally got it's own DOC in 1998 that it can qualify for, which is the Tintilia del Molise DOC from the provinces of Isernia and the capital Campobasso. It's another grape, like some of the other Italian grapes we've discussed along the way, that faced extinction, but some wine producers of Molise continue to work with the grape and still produce wines with it. It's unknown where the grape hailed from or whom it was introduced by whether it was the Spanish or the Samnites, but the word tintilia hails from the spanish word tinto, which means red, and a red grape it is. So whether or not that means it came from the Spanish your guess is as good as mine and there was no definite answer online.

Characteristics of Tintilia
Typically with this wine it produces a ruby color and is medium-bodied showcasing red and/or black fruits. Depending on the producer you may also pick up some spice notes and licorice. A well produced tintilia should balance good fruit and acidity with firm tannins.

Producers of Tintilia
There are definitely more, but these wineries produce tintilia wines of Molise that maybe you can find.
I would love to hear from those that have had the opportunity to try this grape and share your experience with us.