Last week we explored the wonders of the Mediterranean’s mythical island wines with special arrivals from Sicily, Sardegna and Greece. With the great weather continuing, we have been inspired once more to visit the coastal slopes of Italy, this time from the mainland perspective. The peninsula offers a vast array of climates, soils and wine traditions that range from high Alpine mountains to sun-baked shores, with everything in between.
Coastal Italian wines offer some of the most exotic elements of traditional wine. In fact it was by way of these shores that ancient explorers both brought vines to the peninsula as well as departed with the conquering Romans, who spread them around the known world. On tap for tonight is an inspiring lineup of little known coastal wines that showcase their sea-side origins. We will take a loop right around the peninsula, from Ligura down to Campania and into the Adriatic all while sipping wines that showcase that classic sea breeze and salty freshness that summer is all about. If you’re heading anywhere near the water (and even if you’re not) be sure to come check out these refreshing delights!
NV Bruno DeConciliis, Selim, Cilento, Campania : Well, here’s a new one! We love Bruno DeConciliis and his Jazz inspired wines. They combine the spontaneity of the vintage with the melody of his masterful, natural winemaking. We couldn’t resist this little number-a sparkling blend of Fiano, Aglianico and Barbera! Dry and floral with a soft, melon fruit core this is right up our alley and is not to be missed. Bring on the parade of Pet Nats!
2009 Punta Crena, Pigato, Liguria : Nestled in the rolling hills of Liguria’s majestic italian Riviera overlooking crystal clear waters, the Ruffino family has been cultivating the fruit of the vine for 500 years. Generation after generation of Ruffinos have learned from their elders the ancient methods. The four siblings that captain the vineyard clearly subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!” school of thought!. The depth of their dedication to time-tested tradition extends so far that they STILL create their stone terraces by hand! Every grape is harvested by hand and placed into small baskets before being taken to the stone hewn cellar where they are gently pressed. This particular expression of Punta Crena is made from the indigenous grape Pigato. Considered to be a close relative to the more recognizable Vermentino (some clame it IS Vermentino), Pigato gets its name from the rust colored speckles that appear on the skins shortly before harvest. Steeped in cool Mediterranean breezes and even coastal climate, this is a wine brimming with rustic charm and that indefinable sense of place that lets you slide for a moment into a Ligurian, dinner table overflowing with shellfish, fresh veggies and coastal charm!
2009 Pievalta, San Paolo, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, Le Marche: All summer long we have been enjoying Pievalta’s poignant, un-oaked version of Verdicchio from the low-lying hills of Le Marche, on Italy’s Adriatic coast. We love this forward thinking, certified biodynamic (and even vegan!) estate that has set the new standard for the humble verdicchio variety. The San Paolo cuvee is the wineries top bottling and it sees a touch of oak aging (mostly old oak) that rounds out the edges and creates a deep, food-driven wine. Ideal with the region’s version of ciapino called “brodetto”, a classic fish stew. Find. Eat. Drink.
2010 Bisson, Ciliegiolo Rosato, Cinque Terre, Liguria
2008 Bisson, Il Granaccio, Cinque Terre, Liguria
Enoteca Bisson is the fruit of Pierluigi Lugano’s vision for a revitalized wine tradition in the mountainous Cinque Terre region of Liguria. Once a simple wine merchant Pierluigi has become an icon in this little know, near forgotten corner of northern Italy. To this day he is credited with having helped save several species of local grape varieties and continues to make some of the regions most inspired wines. Tonight we have his beloved Ciliegiolo rosato, a deep and savory rose` made from the rare grape of the same name. Then an unexpected red based on Granaccio (you guessed it, it’s grenache!) which is soft and juicy and all too easy to love.
2010 Tenuta Aurora, Rosso Piceno, Le Marche, Italy: Down in the southern corner of Le Marche, on the Adriatic coast, is the tiny family agriturismo of “Aurora”. Farming everything from olives to animals-and of course grapes-the ancient practice of mixed agriculture is alive and well here. Ascoli-Piceno, which lends its name to the DOC, Rosso Piceno, is in this case a blend of montepulciano, sangiovese with a little cabernet and merlot mixed in. This is a savory, medium-full bodied wine that deserves food to match such as a classic porchetta or even some lamb chops.