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Wednesday
Oct212009

White Wines and Wine Regions of Italy

Presented by Errin Kearney

TRENTINO - ALTO ADIGE   (Northeast Italy)  ~   Shrimp Cocktail (bay shrimp, sweet melon,  cucumber,ponzu dressing)                                                                                                                                                                   The valley of the Adige forms the dramatic corridor into the Alps that links Italy with Austria over the Brenner Pass.   It is a rock-walled trench, widening in places to give views of distant peaks but, like the Rhône Valley, an inevitably thronging north-south link with all the excesses of traffic and industry that go with it.  Its vineyards form a lovely contrast to the traffic at its heart.  They pile up every available slope from river to rock-walls in a pattern of pergolas which look from above like deeply leafy steps.  Growing conditions are fine for almost any white grape.                                                                                                       

The Alto Adige, alias the SĎ‹dtirol, the southern tip of Austria’s Tyrol, is Italy’s most northerly wine region and one of its most vigorous and exciting.

2007 Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco Dolomiti
This is a delicious green apple and honey Pinot Bianco from the cool Aldo Adige region of Northern Italy. The flavors are pure and clean. This wine is delicious by itself and will pair well with salads or seafood.  $13.50

 

CAMPANIA   (Southern Italy) 
Historically it was near Naples in the inland parts of Campania, particularly the province of Avellino, which set the pace for the region’s truly distinctive wines.  The name of Greco di Tufo, a substantial white from inland Campania of remarkably original flavor – apple peel fragrance and mineral depths – shares the credit between its assumed Greek origins and the tufa rock on which it grows.

2008 Quintale Aversa, Greca di Tufo
Originally a grape of ancient Greece, Greco is believed to be the Italian “mother” grape, giving birth to many other white varietals (such as Verdicchio and Trebbiano.) A sip of this puts you on a yacht off the Amalfi Coast—gorgeous floral perfumes float over a lemon-zesty, juicy and very fruity white, with good bite and refreshing persistence on the palate.  $15.50

 

SECOND FLIGHT

VENETO   (Northeast Italy)  ~  Baked Tomatoes with Ricotta Filling (Mediterranean ricotta filling, bonito del norte)
Italy’s northeast corner is the country’s one region where aromatic, sharply etched white wines dominate both image and production.  The Veneto has two great wine centers, Verona and Conegliano.  The hills of Verona, stretching from Soave, east of the city, westward to Lake Garda, has such fertile volcanic soil that vegetation grows uncontrollably.  Soave, with its insistent combination of almonds and lemons, is Italy’s most famous white wine.

2007 Gini, Soave Classico
This fine wine is made from 100% Garganega grapes. It is a well-balanced wine with ripe fruit and excellent acidity. Try this wine as an appetizer wine with soft cheeses.  $17.00

 

TOSCANA   (Central Italy)
The wines made here vary enormously, not just because latitudes do but because the terrain and particularly the altitude do.  One of the more characterful Central Italian white grapes is Vernaccia, at its apogee in San Gimignano where an increasing number of producers are restraining yields and managing to produce wines that taste of history, not bitterness.

2007 Fontaleoni Vigna Casanuova Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Tuscany is the home of many, many superb fine red wines and very few superb white wines. This wine, from San Gimignano, is one of those few superb Tuscan white wines. It has been made for so long in this area, that nobody really knows when it was first made. It's likely that it was made by the Etruscans, when they inhabited what we now call Tuscany. The wine is dry, clean and crisp and has lovely ripe fruit. It's enjoyable by itself and perfect with seafood.  $12.50

 

THIRD FLIGHT

PIEMONTE   (Northwest Italy)  ~  Strawberry  Shortcake (Muscat macerated berries, sweet cream cakes)                                                                                                                                                                                  Piemonte food and wine are as inseparable as those of Burgundy.  They are strong, rich, individual, mature, and somehow autumnal.  One feels it must be more than coincidence that this is the Italian province nearest to France.  Piemonte means at the foot of the mountains – the Alps.  The Alps almost encircle the region, so that from its heart, the Monferrato hills around Asti, they form a continuous dark – or in winter and spring sparkling white – horizon.  Piemonte has a climate of its own, with a very hot growing season followed by a misty autumn and a cold, often foggy, winter.

2008 Marchesi di Gresy La Serra Moscato d’Asti 
Made solely from the Moscato grape, La Serra offers sensations of fresh exotic fruit. Intense, full, and harmonious on the palate, it is an excellent dessert wine with biscuits, dry cakes and fruit. Slightly frizzante.  $14.00