There are so many grape varieties in Italy that it is impossible to know them all. It is a very humbling experience. There is always something new to discover.
PR Vino, an Italian PR agency, represents a number of wineries that produce wines from some rare varieties some of which I have never tasted or have had little experience with.
Since I wanted to try these wines, I contacted Elisa Bosco who is in charge of the USA programs and activities for PR Vino. I asked her if she would like to do a tasting for the Wine Media Guild. Elisa agreed and sent me a list of the wineries. I chose the most unique and interesting wines, plus a few of my favorites. The tasting and lunch was held at Felidia Restaurant in NYC and Elisa was the speaker.
Below are the white wines plus one dessert wine. I will do the red wines separately.
Trebbiano Spoletino “Farandola” (Umbria) 2016 IGT Di Filippo made from 100% Trebbiano Spoletino
The winery overlooks Assisi between Torgiano and Montefalco. The soil is clayey-calcareous and the vineyards are on hillsides. Training method is guyot and there are 4,600 vines per hectare. Fermentation takes place off the skins at 18 degrees C and the wines remains in stainless steel until bottled. This is a fruity wine, rich in flavor with hints of citrus. It has good acidity and minerality. It is one of the best examples of Trebbiano I ever tasted. The Trebbiano Spoletino is native to Umbria and is different from other Trebbiano grapes.
Vernaccia di San Gimignano “ Selvabianca” La Vernaccia di Santa Chiara 2016 DOCG (Tuscany) Il Colombaio di Santa Chiara made from 100% Vernaccia di San Gimignano. The winery is located 1.5 km from San Gimignano in the direction of Volterra.
The training system is spurred cordon and the vineyard is at 350/390 meters. No pesticides are used. Hard harvesting takes place the last week of September using boxes of 15/20kg. The best bunches are chosen directly in the vineyard and immediately conveyed to the wine cellar.
After a short maceration with the skins, fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. This a well-structured wine, fresh tasting wine with hints of apple and a flower scent and balanced acidity.
Grechetto Colli Martani (Umbria) DOC 2016 F.lli Pardi made from 100% Grechetto. The story of the winery goes back to 1919 but the present winery began in 2003 beneath the walls of Montefalco. The soil is of sedimentary and clayey origin. All the vines are spurred cord trained and there are there are 4,500 to 5,000 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place in early September.
“Le Grane” Colli (Le Marche) DOC 2016 made from 100% Ribona (aka Maceratino) Boccadigabbia. Riibona is a rare gape varietal grown only in the province of Macerata. The 23 hectares of vineyards stand on hills in two separate zones in Civitanova and Macerata.
The soil is sandy-clayey and the exposure is northeast and the training system is guyot. The grape clusters are soft crushed and fermentation lasts for about 12 days in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After fermentation, whole slightly overripe berries are added to the wine. This second fermentation lasts for 10 days and allows an added extraction of compounds and aromatics from the skins. It is a well-structured wine with fragrances of ripe citrus fruit with a hint of melon.
This is the first time I have ever tasted a wine made from this grape. Until 1950 the estate belonged to a direct descendent of Napoleon and therefore French grapes are also planted here.
Lady F 2016 (Tuscany) made from 100% Orpicchio Donne Fittipaldi The grapes are hand harvested and the stalks are gently removed and then cooled to 8/10 degrees C leaving the juice in contact with the skins for 4 hours, followed by a soft pressing and cleaning of the must that is fermented in oak barrels, half and half in steel at a temperature of 16degrees C. This is a well-structured wine with hints of peach, citrus fruit and white flowers and balanced acidity. Everyone sitting at the table with me commented on how much they liked the wine. This is the first time I tasted a wine made from this grape.
Moscato Rosa (Alto Adige)DOC 1994 Castel Sallegg made from 100% Moscato Rosa, Kuenburg selection, indigenous variety and one of the world’s rarest grapes
The Princes of Campofranco, the ancestors of today’s owner Count George von Kuenburg, introduced this noble grape variety in 1892 when they moved from Sicily to Caldaro and Castel Sallegg. They planted it in the warmest earth around Lake Caldaro, where it thrived.
The vineyard is at 230 meters. Soil is reddish gravel and sandstone. This warm porous soil combines with a unique microclimate on the shores of Lake Kaltern. The training system is traditional pergola. A late harvest ensures the grapes have reached a minimum sugar content of 32 degrees KMW (160 Oechsle) this is the must weight is a measure of the amount of sugar in grape juice (must), before entering mash fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 2 weeks.
The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks for 12 months and then for another 12 months in bottle before release. This is an elegant dessert wine with intense fragrances of roses, hints of ripe raspberries and other red berries and a touch of spice.