New Wine This Week 60: The Verdict on IGT Week

Italy, New Wine This Week, Reds

60 - wine

I’d like to start this post by asking for help from people. How on God’s green earth do you cook an artichoke??? I popped it in the stew with the tomatoes, olive, and beef shin. I let it simmer away for a few hours, tried it, and it was like trying to eat wood chippings! Took longer to take all the pieces out of the ragu than it did to eat the thing itself!!

New Wine This Week 60 – What To Expect From IGT Wines

Italy, New Wine This Week, Reds

60 - Ronseal

Using IGT as a topic this week is obviously fairly open ended. Every wine producing region of Italy has an IGT (I think except Piemonte) so to ask what we’re expecting to taste is a bit of a funny one to answer. But you know what they say, ask a stupid question…

#NWTW Week 43: What We Thought of Primitivo

Alcohol Free, For The Foodies, Italy, New Wine This Week

IMG_0168

At the end of a long weekend of celebrations for my sister’s birthday up in lovely lovely Derbyshire, most people had buggered off back home ready for Monday morning work duty. The few survivors tasked with cleaning the place up (damn it!) were me, the wife, my mum and dad, and my cousin Trudi, who I’m hoping is going to be up and running on WordPress herself soon as the latest and greatest Celiac blogger!

#NWTW Week 43: Food Pairing with Primitivo

For The Foodies, Italy, New Wine This Week, Reds

week 43 marrocan lamb

The great thing about Primitivo, that lovers like to mention, is the big spicy fruit in there. The fruit can be raspberry all the way through to plum, it’ll depend on the heat of the site it’s grown. Check the label or ask in the wine shop when you’re buying.

#NWTW Week 43: Primitivo, Where Would We Be Without The US?

Italy, New Wine This Week, Reds, USA

week 43 high alcohol

Primitivo never used to be a wine that anyone took much notice of. For years grape growers used to grow it and then send it north to the more famous areas of Tuscany and Piemonte to add body (and a bit of alcohol) to the lighter wines made up there. That was until our cousins over the pond gave the grape a kick in the right direction.

#NWTW Week 43: Puglia May Be The Answer

Italy, New Wine This Week, Reds

week 43 puglia

Puglia, the home of Primitivo, is one of Italy’s poorest regions. Italy has big regional differences in terms of culture and economy, and although Puglia is at the wrong end of the scale when it comes to the money side of things, it makes up for it in terms of its food and drink.

#NWTW Week 43: Primitivo

Italy, New Wine This Week, Reds

week 13 italian flag

After a week off, it’s time to head back to the normality of alcoholic wine. And with that it’s time to go for a big red wine to welcome the clock change and those early nights drawing into the winter. It’s one that people know from both sides of the Atlantic, but I’m picking the European one, it’s Primitivo from Southern Italy.

Southern Italy Simplified ‪#3 – What To Be Looking For?

Italy, Reds

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.

Bored of staring at another Chianti Classico?

Bored of staring at another Chianti Classico?

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.

This fella's just seen the farmer come back with a case of Gaglioppo, time to panic!

This fella’s just seen the farmer come back with a case of Gaglioppo, time to panic!

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.

Cheers

Southern Italy Simplified ‪#1 – Is There A Point In This?

Italy, Reds, Whites

The availability of Southern Italian wines has never been incredible. Massive co-ops producing generic Pinot Grigio with little taste and even less texture had been the norm for years. Why? Well wine production in those states just doesn’t pay the bills. Or at least it didn’t for a long while.‬

So no one was producing it and the reputation was falling so fast that no one was buying it. With the influx of New World alternatives, that lower price bracket was becoming the most competitive battle ground in the world of wine. So you’ve got to ask is there a point in checking out Southern Italian wines?

Southern Italy has its plus points, and wine is fast becoming one of main attractions!

Southern Italy has its plus points, and wine is fast becoming one of main attractions!

Of course the answer is yes, and it’s back with bang. So what changed? Well, as with anything else it was investment. Investment in the land, investment in the wine making, and investment in the marketing.

Land in the South of Italy is comparatively monkey nuts compared to the North. It’s also got a warmer, more steady climate. So you’ve got cheap land, with little vintage variation, and an almost guarantee that your crop will ripen. Hmmm, sounds a bit too good to be true. Investment in the land has flooded in from the North, and from further afield such as the US and Australia. They know how to make it work in the hotter climbs.

Given the relatively untouched nature of wine production in the years preceding this resurgence, PDO regulations have largely based the South by. Remember that if you produce wine in one of the areas with a bit of fame for their wines, then chances are there’s some kind of appellation control set on what you can do in terms of which grape, what land, and the rest. Sometimes even down to what bottle you can put the finished article in!

If there isn’t much in the way of regulation, then you’ve got a double-edged sword. On the negative side, you may struggle to gain a decent price for what you produce, so maybe you can’t be arsed putting in that extra mile. Produce something average and make it pay. As a consumer you may end up properly having to sort the wheat from the chaff. On the positive side though, if you want to have an experiment as a wine maker, you can mess around with different grapes, different blends, and different production techniques. Just go nuts. This has been a big draw for external investors.

Right lads, I've got an idea...

Right lads, I’ve got an idea…

And finally the marketing. In my view, the best thing about the South of Italy is the grape varieties. Sure you’ve got the international varieties creeping in, but the Aglianico’s of this world, the Gaglioppo’s, and the blessed Primitivo itself. These are just 3 of hundreds of local varieties, put here thousands of years ago as the first vineyards in what’s now mainland Italy.

In a world where your white wine choices might be whether you want oaked or unoaked chardonnay, wouldn’t you love to have a go at a spicy, herby Greco? Sicily has already done a great job at marketing co-ops promoting the local grapes, and the rest of the southern states are beginning to follow suit.

I’m not going balls out and saying “you’ll not have tried anything like this in your lives before!” but they’re definitely something different. Just keep an eye out.

Cheers