Italian varieties from Cambridge Wine Merchants
Another week, another MW study support session for a friend.
I've never quite gotten into Italy; I've had plenty of wines that I've enjoyed, but don't really feel that I understand the country properly.
From this blind-tasting study session, I learn that Chianti is Italy's largest sub-region by wine volume and that Valpolicella is next - both wines are high in acidity, so need to be matched with food. Both grapes require specific growing conditions so are little seen outside Italy.
Sangiovese, a Tuscan grape with lots of synonyms, is highly prone to mutation, up there with Pinot Noir for genetic variation.
Valpolicella, from Veneto in the north east, comes as:
- classico (juicy, fresh)
- amarone (concentrated - some of the grapes are air-dried for ripe intensity)
- ripasso (re-uses the skins from amarone to give something in-between)
My Sangiovese is not a Chianti; it's a declassified Brunello di Montalcino labelled simply vino rosso. All the grapes could technically be labelled DOCG Brunello di Montalcino but not quite making the grade for the first wine, are blended across years (hence the NV). The off-cuts, if you will; this is a baby Brunello at a fraction of the price.
Sopra Sasso Valpolicella Ripasso 2015, Italy (£15) juicy, soft red-berry and red plum fruit with some ripasso richness, spice and a touch of old leather; fresh, linear acidity, supple texture with very fine, well-integrated tannins; long, concentrated and flawless.
Match with meaty pasta dishes or duck.
Rosso del Palazzone, vino rosso, NV, Italy (£15) red fruits, sour cherry, liquorice, spice and woodsy leatheriness; very fresh with firm but very fine tannins. Good structure, needs food.
Match with darker game.