O.K. we have covered just about all there is to cover in Italy. For a country roughly the size of California it sure is prolific in its wine production. It is amazing that there is room for people with all of the vineyards necessary to allow this small country to attain its number one rank in world wine production. It is the fact that wine is grown everywhere in the country that affords us a great opportunity to explore the effects that ten degrees of latitude can have on food and wine.
In the north where the nights are cooler and winter approaches a little earlier, the grape varieties tend towards delicacy and finesse. In Piedmont, for example, the average temperature in July is 77 degrees. The grapes grown here, Barbera and Nebbiolo, have no need to protect themselves from the harsh sun and have therefore developed thin skins resulting in wines generally lighter in color. The cooler days and nights lead to higher acidity and greater finesse.
Try one of these examples from our discussions on Northern Italy:
Sant’Emiliano Barbera d’Asti, “Intense and complex with hints of red berries, spices, almonds, and licorice. Savor this aristocratic and well balanced wine, with its long and elegant finish. Generous and round on the palate, with chocolate cake in the middle and white pepper at the finish. Delicious and with great persistence.” Winemaker’s Notes.
Fratelli Serio & Battisti Bogogno Riserva Cannubi Barolo 2007, 90pt. Wine Enthusiast, “This Riserva from one of Barolo’s most celebrated vineyards doesn’t disappoint, even in the scorching 2007 vintage. It delivers succulent black cherry, herb and spearmint sensations along with brooding tannins and just enough freshness.”
In southern Italy the grapes have to deal with average temperatures in the nineties and constant days baking in the dry air and sun equivalent to North Africa. This has led the grapes to develop very thick skins in order to protect themselves from drying out and shriveling on the vine. The higher temperatures and greater sunshine also result in much riper, deeper flavors. It goes without saying that these riper grapes lead to higher alcohol levels thus ramping up the body on some of these wines to eleven (think Spinal Tap).
Here are some southern examples and feel the warmth of the Southern Italian sun as you drink them:
Caruso & Minini Neo d’Avola, Deep black cherry ruby with brilliant cherry reflections. The bouquet is fresh with jammy blackberry and cassis fruit supported by slight menthol that confers freshness and a pleasant spice.
N˚Zero Negroamaro, “We named our Apuglian Negroamaro “Numero Zero” because we started from zero to assemble the perfect combinations of estate grown Negroamaro grapes, the ideal vineyard site and passionate winemakers. This sumptuous red delivers notes of wild blackberries and ripe plum with a concentrated and velvety long finish.” Winemaker Notes. Only 11.99!!!
Try one or more from opposite ends of the country side by side and you will know if what you are drinking is from the knee or the heel. (If I lost you on this last part, look at a map.)
~ Randy Freeland ~
Prices good through 8/6/14.