Italy has a rich history of winemaking dating back thousands of years with hundreds of grape varietals founds throughout all 20 regions of Italy. One of the many reasons I love Italian wine is the wide abundance of native, indigenous varietals found throughout the country. Last weekend I visited a wine shop as I was passing through south of Boston for a party and I felt like a kid in a candy shop with their wide array of Italian wines that most have probably never heard of. This is what I love about Italian wine! Such variety and character with a depth of history behind these wines that demonstrate their deep roots in the Italian wine industry.
This month Martin of Wine Blog is hosting our Italian Food, Wine and Travel group (#ItalianFWT) and chose our theme of non-native varietals. Although Italy’s indigenous grapes are gaining recognition and attention of the masses, it is always fun to explore the international varieties and their role and presence in Italian wine.
When we talk about international grapes in Italian wine most are French grapes including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Throughout time international grapes have had a presence in Italian wine whether vine cuttings were brought over from other countries by personal selection or invasions. Phylloxera, the vine disease that hit in the late 19th century, also has played a role in changing the Italian wine landscape and during this time some wineries chose quantity and higher yielding grapes over quality than preserving Italy’s native grapes. This was the time that many of these obscure, rare native grapes faced extinction.
Thankfully, some Italian wineries and winemakers over recent decades have focused on bringing some of these ancient varietals back to life. In addition, with the creation of Consorzio and the DOC and DOCG designations, this has helped to focus on quality and to demonstrate the special terroir along with preserving the traditions of many winemaking regions throughout Italy and help promote the history behind many of these Italian wine appellations.
You can find international varieties all throughout Italy. Merlot is actually one of Italy’s mostly highly planted . Chardonnay can be found in the sparkling wines of Italy in the Franciacorta wine appellation. I’ve found many single varietals produced in northern Italy of grapes likes Sauvignon Blanc or Cabernet Franc. Then there are many international grapes that are blended in with native grapes including the wine I’m sharing with you today. For example, many of you are familiar with the so-called “super ” that are blends with these grapes like merlot or cabernet.
A recent visit to Trader Joe’s had me scoping out their Italian section to see what unique wines I could find or just something different. I came across a 2020 Rosso blend that was 33.3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33.3% Merlot and 33.4% Montepulciano. As the name states, , means thirty-three that makes up the blend of these 3 grapes. At $5.99 I figured it was worth a shot to sample for this event. Come to find out upon research that this tends to be a wine upon other wine reviewers in previous vintages, but trying this for the first time I had nothing to compare it to.
The 2020 Rosso Salento IGT wine comes from the Puglia, aka Apulia, region in southern Italy located on the heel of the boot. This wine was aged 6 months in oak. I couldn’t locate much to give some background on the winery or how it was produced unfortunately. This wine was deeply ruby colored and had a rich nose of black cherry with notes of chocolate lingering. A hefty medium-bodied wine with some surprising firm tannin up front matched with good acidity and rich flavors of red and black fruits including plums, raspberries and blackberries. For the price I paid I don’t see how one cannot enjoy this wine, but I would grab some BBQ. That is all I thought of upon sipping this wine. ABV 14%
Join the rest of our Italian food and wine lovers as they share their selections on Italy's non-native grapes. Catch us live on Twitter this Saturday at 11am EST @ #ItalianFWT. Buon weekend!
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla will be whipping up Deviled Eggs and a Chardonnay from Alto Adige
- Lynn of Savor the Harvest will be sharing The ‘Other’ Wine Grapes in Italy
- Linda of My Full Wine Glass will be offering us Trentino: Another option for Pinot Noir fans
- Susannah of Avvinare will be contributing Oltrepo’ Pavese – Pinot Noir Reaches New Heights
- Deanna of Wineivore will be dishing up Butternut Squash Risotto Paired with Organic Merlot“
- Gwendolyn of the Wine Predator will be exploring Chardonnay Blanc de Blanc: Ivaldi’s Andrea Alta Langa DOCG #ItalianFWT
- Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm wonders An Italian Merlot? Sì, Grazie
- I’ll be sharing Mussels With Garlic and Parsley Paired with Cantina Terlan Kreuth Chardonnay