This is my first blog for a few days. I’ve been out in San Sebastian in Northern Spain for my stag do for a long weekend. The (heavily-edited) blog that follows that one will be soon enough, but first it’s time to finish off the introduction to Southern Italy. So as with Bordeaux Broken Down, the last blog is just everything else I can think of to say all thrown in at once.
Buying Southern Italian wines isn’t always that easy at first sight. Smaller wine shops will stick with what they know, Barbera from Piemonte, Chianti from Tuscany, or maybe Valpolicella from Veneto. But the more famous southerners are on the shelves of good wine retailers and supermarkets.
Aglianico from Campagnia is a fantastic red wine. They call it the Barolo of the South (Barolo being one of the most notable wines from Northern Italy), especially if it comes from the Taurasi DOCG. It’ll be quite heavy, but very fruity, with strong dark fruits. I never find I’m good at drinking these wines with food, I always find them slightly too heavy, but as something to neck by the fire or infront of the tele on a night in in the middle of winter, spot on.
Negroamaro and Primitivo (grown as Zinfandel in the US) from Puglia, and Gaglioppo and Magliocco from Calabria probably complete the local reds from down here that I’ve tried. With the exception of Gaglioppo, you’re again looking at fairly heavy reds. It makes sense, right? It’s roasting hot throughout a long growing season. The grapes aren’t shy of sugars and ripeness. They’re all really worth a try, and have a great array of black fruit. Gaglioppo though, if you see it, is much lighter in style, red fruit, with a bit of spice too.
The main local white I’ve tried is Greco. I find it a bit low on acidity at times, but it’s spicy, herby, and citrusy. Obviously the South is also rammed with massive vineyards of Pinot Grigio for mass consumption. It’s got a shocker of a reputation because of it. But it’s made to be easy to drink. Even the best producers make an inoffensive, fruit driven bevvy that can go with most occasions. That’s the point of it.
If you think back to when we were talking about food and wine pairing, one of the big things is that wine tended to be made in a style that fit the local food. Southern Italy has a massive amount of influences, lots of seafood, the meats are sheep and goat, and the spices and cooking styles are closer to North Africa than North Italy. So Greco goes with highly seasoned fish dishes. The next time you have curried lamb or goat, see if you can get hold of some Gaglioppo.
And lastly it’s time for a bit of a rant for which I apologise in advance. You’ve got one of the oldest wine growing regions in the world looking to bring itself back into play. There are a few brave growers and marketers out there looking to make it a viable business again. I think the least we can do as the end drinkers is have a try.