January 2018 Wine Alliance Notes

Italian Mono Variety Reds

It’s gross outside. Pouring rain, gusty wind, giant puddles, wet dogs, wet everything. Sound like a complaint? Well yes, until you find yourself inside with a rich stew and a glass of wine that warms your chilly bones.

As an antidote to the January doldrums we offer you the project of getting to know a few Italian reds. We specifically selected well known, single variety reds as a way of jumping into the vast study of Italian wine. If one of the club selections speaks to you, we can find others for you to taste and compare. Perhaps this will ignite curiosity.  You wouldn’t be the first to fall down a rabbit hole exploring Italian wine. There is lifetime’s worth of tasting and travel to pursue!

To hint at just how deep and long Italian wine culture is consider that in the 8th century BC, when the ancient Greeks colonists arrived in Italy, they found that vines were already being cultivated and staked in vineyards.  At the time they named the peninsula Oenotria, land of the trained vines. Grapes are grown in every single region from north to south. At its last grape census 350 indigenous varieties were counted-no other country has more.  In this month’s club we focus on three well known stars; Nebbiolo, Barbera and Sangiovese.

Nebbiolo – The great, if temperamental, grape of Barolo and Barbaresco was first documented as producing distinctive wines in the 13th century. It is a light skinned grape that makes very powerful wines high in tannin and acid.  It is most well known for its role in the long lived wines of Barolo and Barbaresco in Piedmont, but it is also grown in the subalpine regions of Alto-Piedmont, Valtellina and Val d’Aosta.

Barbera – The origins of Barbera date back to the 7th century though it is thought to be relatively new to Piedmont where it is widely planted alongside Nebbiolo and Dolcetto. It is also grown in Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and made in a number of styles (including sparkling). The grape always brings high acidity and low tannins to the table. Even the most serious of Barberas will be friendly.   

Sangiovese – Sangiovese is the most planted grape variety in Italy with a concentration in central Italy where you find Tuscany, Brunello, Umbria, Lazio and the Marche. Although Sangiovese’s origins are less clear than Nebbiolo or Barbera, most believe it to be an ancient grape. Sangiovese is divided into two main subcategories-Grosso and Piccolo. Sangiovese di Romagna, our club selection, falls into the Grosso family. Beyond this there are many mutations of Sangiovese and each will produce a different wine.

Everyday Club

2016 Ca del Baio, Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, It $16
Grape - Nebbiolo grown in Barbaresco and Treiso
Vinified and aged in stainless steel tanks.  

 2013 Villa Venti, Primo Sengo, Romagna DOC, IT $25
Grape - Sangiovese di Romagna DOC Superiore
Vinified and aged in stainless steel tanks

 Focus Club

2014 Brovio, Nebbiolo d’Alba Valmaggione DOC, IT $35
Grape - Nebbiolo
Vinified and aged in Stainless steel tanks

2014 Iuli Barabba, Barbera del Monferrato Superiore DOCG, IT $46
Grape – Barbera
Vinified – Stainless steel and aged 26 months in old barrels
Not So Fun Fact: Due to an explosion in the wild boar population, the Barabba vineyard was lost. This will be the last vintage we receive…enjoy.