Saturday, December 30, 2023

An evening in Boston with the wines of Oltrepo Pavese

Before the end of the year I wanted to highlight the Lombardy wine region and share a wine dinner I attended a couple months back in Boston sponsored by the Oltrepo Pavese Consorzio and wine friend Susannah of Vigneto Communications.  You may remember me highlighting some wines from the Oltrepo in Lombardy awhile back, which I will also rehighlight at the bottom of this article.  It was a splendid evening in the North End of Boston, the Italian section of Boston, at Forcella with great food and wine pairings, great conversation and a reminder of interesting and diverse this region really is.

food and wine tasting with Oltrepo Pavese wines at Forcella Boston
Susannah (Vigneto Communicatiaons), myself, Carlo (Consorzio), David (Cooking Chat) and Alison (Artisan Wine Group)
The Oltrepo Pavese, pronounced ol-tray-po pah-vay-say, sits in the southern part of the Lombardy about 25 miles outside of Milan. It’s uniquely shaped within Lombardy looking like a cluster of grapes.  The vineyards cover 32,000 acres across 7 denominations with the flagship DOCG, and only DOCG, being the Oltrepo Pavese Metodo Classico Pinot Nero DOCG.   The Oltrepo receives a Mediterranean climate from the nearby influence of the Ligurian Sea and has more of a continental climate with the Po Valley.  Due to these factors, and others, there is a large diversity in the styles of wines produced in the Oltrepo.

Whether you have heard of the Oltrepo or not you may be surprised to learn that this wine area actually accounts for 65% of the wine production within Lombardy.  So much of the Oltrepo has changed over the years.  In 1884 the Oltrepo had 224 native vines with 59 grapes.  Today this area has 10 native vines with a much more limited amount of grapes.  It’s primary grapes grown and what it is known for are Barbara, Riseling, Croatina and especially Pinot Nero.  The Oltrepo Pavese is actually 3rd in the world, besides Champagne and Burgundy France, for the production of their Pinot Noir.  Other grapes also produced within the Oltrepo Pavese include Uva Rara, Pinot Bianco, Cortese Bianco, Vespolina, Moscato, Pinot Grigio, Malvasia and Mueller Thurgau.

There are 4 valleys in the Oltrepo from west to east including Valle Straffora, Valle Coppa, Valle Scuropasso and Valle Versa.  Pinot Nero is frequently grown in the Valle Scuropasso.  Barbera you will find mostly within Valle Straffora and Valle Coppa.  Riesling does well in the calcareous soils of Valle Coppa.  Croatina is found in the central valleys eastward. 

We opened the evening with the lovely Ca’ di Frara T4 Brut Nature.  The 2022 Bruno Verdi Pinot Grigio was surprising as I never would’ve pinned that wine if tasted blind, although I’m far from an expert.  The texture and fruit profile in the wine reminded me of a Riesling.

Ca' di Frara T4 Brut Nature

2022 Bruno Verdi Pinot Grigio
Although I didn’t take specific notes on these wines during my dinner with the Consorzio I have to say that some of the pairings that we had complemented one another very well.  The star pairing was the La Travaglina Rugiade Oltrepo Pavese Riesling DOC paired with a cacio e pepe dish.  
La Travaglina Rugiade Oltrepo Pavese Riesling DOC
Cacio e Pepe wine pairing with Oltrepo Riesling
Also, the Castello di Luzzano Sommossa Bonarda Frizzante with the pasta Bolognese surprisingly paired nicely with a slight frizzante.
Castello di Luzzano Sommossa Bonarda Frizzante

pasta bolognese wine pairing with Oltrepo Pavese Bonarda

Have you enjoyed wines from the Oltrepo?

Here are some of my previous articles on other wines of the Oltrepo Pavese.

You can find Oltrepo Pavese wines at 

*I may receive commissions if any wines are purchased directly from the above site to support the operations of Vino Travels.  

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