Italian wine can be intimidating: there are over 350 documented grape varieties granted authorized status from the Italian Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (and an estimated 500 other documented varieties in circulation as well). This said, there are a few wines worth exploring… without having to demystify these hundreds of grapes.
2013 Feudi di San Gregorio, Falanghina di Sannio
Falanghina is a great wine from Campania (located in the south – on the instep or tongue of the boot) that is refreshing and complex, and which won’t break the bank. It is said that Falanghina is the grape behind Falernian, the most famous wine of Roman antiquity, whose vines thrive in the porous volcanic soils around Mt. Vesuvius and in the warm Mediterranean climate. And Feudi di San Gregorio specializes in the indigenous local grape varieties of the region, so it’s no surprise that the expression of the Falanghina of their 2013 vintage has beautiful focus, lively acidity, fantastic ripeness, distinct minerality and fine aromatics.
2013 Cantina Mesa, ‘Primo Scuro’ Cannonau di Sardignia
Cannonau is thought to be the genetic ancestor of Grenache and is synonymous with Sardinia (Sardignia). It is explosive with aromas of ripe wild fruit and berries and delicate notes of violets, well balanced with soft tannins and an extremely long finish. The Cantina Mesa estate is located in the southwestern part of the island, and all of the grapes are hand-picked.
2011 Occhipinti Frappato
Frappato is a grape traditionally associated with blending, but is extraordinary on its own from the Occhipinti estate in southwestern Sicilly. Elegantly light yet complex, with notes of cherry, rose, mint, raspberry and white pepper, Frappato is native to the Vittorio area (where the vineyards are located). The grape is known for its freshness, elegance and vibrant structure. Arianna Occhipinti is one of Italy’s young rock star winemakers and has been farming her vines using biodynamic methods since 2009.
As a career sommelier, Kimberley Drake has overseen some of the finest wine programs and operations in America and Asia.Her accomplishments range from working as a sommelier at Jean Georges in NYC to opening Hong Kong’s Café Gray Deluxe as their chef sommelier. She can be reached at Kimberley@NewsWhistle.com.
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