Many wines that do not reach the required standard for Chianti DOCG may be classified as Colli dell’ Etruria Centrale DOC. It would be an injustice though to merely dismiss this recently created DOC as a receptacle for poor Chianti wines. There are great Italian wines made within this DOC that do not meet the stipulated proportions of grapes. Just as with Colli Lucchesi some wine makers steadfastly refuse to choose solely from the four mandatory grape varieties. They believe that the combination of Sangiovese with the Cabernets (Sauvignon and Franc) delivers much better results. This was absolutely not permitted and hence until recently the ‘super Tuscan’ wines were downgraded to vino da tavola or table wine.
Wine from Veneto bears the denomination of Garda Orientale DOC, that from Lombardy just carries Garda DOC. This Italian wine must be made from not less than 85% ofthe grapes indicated on the label. These are the well-known Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Riesling Italico, Riesling Renano, and Sauvignon Blanc. These are all excellent Italian wines. Drinking temperature for this Italian wine 46.4- 50.0°F (8-10°C) for Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Bianco, and Rieslings and 50-53.6°F (10-12°C) for Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio wines.
The Nebblio grape is also the basis for Gattinara. This red wine originates from around Gattinara in the province of Vercelli.
Gattinara has enjoyed great fame for centuries, despite its low levels of production. The wine's colour is dark granite red with an orange tinge. The bouquet is finer than that of either Barolo or Barbaresco and tends towards floral notes, such as violets. The taste is less pronounced than the two tough brethren from Piedmont but it remains very much a masculine wine that is full, well-balanced, and rich. In particular Gattinara has a characteristic bitter note in its finish that makes it a perfect companion for roast beef or game.
An ordinary Gattinara must be at least three years old and contains at least 12.5% alcohol, a Riserva is at least four years old and contains 13% alcohol. In the best vintage years (with ample sun) a Gattinara will leave a Barolo far behind. Drinking temperature 57.2- 60.8°F (14- 16°C).
There are three types of wine produced with the Barbera grape. All three are ruby red when young and granite red when mature. This wine is not suitable for drinking when young because it is so high in tannin. With a few years ageing in the bottle the wine becomes more full-bodied and more amenable. Choose the slightly more alcoholic Superiore version which is more balanced. Barbera d'Alba is only made with Barbera grapes but Barbera d'Asti and Barbera del Monferrato are permitted a maximum of 15% Preisa, Grignolino, or Dolcetto. In contrast with the other two, Barbera del Monferrato sometimes has a slight sweetness and a little carbonic acid to tingle the tongue. Drinking temperature 55.4-59°F (13- 15°C).
Of all the wines made with Dolcetto grapes the best known is the Alba, although it is not necessarily the best. Dolcetto d' Alba is reddish purple and has a pleasant fruity nose and full flavour with a slight bitterness that is reminiscent of bay leaves. It is possible with most Dolcetto wines to choose a Superiore version, that has slightly higher alcohol.
Drink this wine with any main dish of red meat, poultry, or roasted pork. Drinking temperature is 53.6-59°F (12- 15°C).
The range of Dolcetto wines are: Dolcetto d'Acqui,Dolcetto d'Alba, Dolcetto d'Asti, Dolcetto delle Langhe Monregalesi, Dolcetto di Diano d' Alba, Dolcetto di Dogliani, and Dolcetto d'Ovada.
Preisa is a long established grape of Piedmont. The name coincidentally resembles the word fraise for strawberry (fragole in Italian) but this special red wine often tastes of strawberries and raspberries, with a hint too of roses. There are two Preisa DOC wines: those of Asti and the other from Chieri. Both are available as dry (secco) or sweet (amabile), still, lightly sparkling (frizzante), or naturally sparkling (spumante naturale) . This relic of the past must be tried if visiting Piedmont. Choose the better rather than cheaper varieties which are often unstable and continue to ferment in the bottle. Drinking temperature for dry Preisa is 50- 53.6°F (10- 12°C) , and 42.8-46.4°F (6- 8°C) for sweet and sparkling types.
These are a pair of the few white wines from Piedmont. The popularity of Gavi or Cortese di Gavi surpasses its actual quality, although it is a good, fresh, delicate, and quite dry, available as frizzante and spumante with the Gavi label. These are excellent wines for drinking with fish. Drinking temperature 46.4-50°F (8- 10°C).
This is one of the best red from northern Italy for quality and price. It does not achieve the standard of top Nebbiolo wines such as Barolo, Barbaresco, or Gattinara, but a good Ghemme costs significantly less and offers a great deal of pleasure in its drinking. The colour is deep granite red, the bouquet is intense and very pleasing and refined, with floral notes including violets. The wine is full of flavour, rounded, with a lightly bitterness in its finish.
A good Ghemme needs to mature for at least four years before being sold. You are unlikely to be disappointed if you buy a Ghemme. Drinking temperature 57.2- 60.8°F (14- 16°C).
Two DOC wines are made from Malvasia in Piedmont: Malvasia di Casorzo d'Asti and Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco. Although from different varieties of Malvasia, the wines are similar.
For many years Molise was linked with its northern neighbours of Abruzzi. Many websites still give the wine area as Abruzzo e Molise. This is because the quality of Molise Italian wines was too low for a DOC nomination. The quality has improved so much in recent times that Molise now has DOC for a good Italian wine.
Check the label before opening for in addition to this delicious dry wine there is also a sweet amabile version which can be extremely sweet.
There is also a spumante. The dry wine is worth the necessary additional maturing in before opening. If you buy a top year's vintage this wine can almost achieve the levels of a good Barbaresco or Gattinara.
Drink at 55 .4- 59°F (13- 15°C ) dry or 42.8-48.2°F (6- 9°C) for sweet or sparkling.
Once again this is an excellent red wine made from Nebbiolo from the hills around Sizzano. This wine is less full and powerful than a Barolo or Barbaresco but resembles a more delicate and smoother Gattinara with floral undertones of violets instead of the Italian culinary herbs that characterise a Barolo or Barbaresco. This wine requires at least three years maturing before it can be sold. Drinking temperature 57.2-60.8°F (14-16°C) .
Other recommended DOC wines from Piedmont
Boca (violet, pomegranate), Bramaterra, Colli Tortonesi Barbera, Para (violets) ,Gabiano and Lessona, Roero Rosso, Rubino di Cantavenna, Ruche di Castagno Ie Monferrato, Verduno Pelaverga, Piemonte, Langhe, Colline Novaresi, Carema DOC,
Sardinia is an island of much contrast. There is a gentle coastal strip, rugged and precipitous mountains, lots of tourist attractions, and unspoiled places where nature flourishes. Sardinia is second only to Sicily in terms of the sizes of Mediterranean islands. Much of the land is mountainous. Vines are concentrated at the foot of these mountains, in the valleys, and on the flatter areas along the coast, where most also people live.
Several excellent white, rosé, red, and even sparkling wines are made in the neighbourhood of Perugia. The white Italian wine may be sold as Bianco (usually Trebbiano and Grechetto) or under the name of the specific grape such as Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, or Riesling Itálico. The single grape varietal wines must contain not less than 85% of the grape variety indicated on the label. Each of these wines is elegant, fresh, fruity, and fulsome in flavour. Drinking temperature is 10-12°C (50-53.6°F).
The picturesque valley of Aosta is in the north of Piedmont, at the foot of the mighty Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. The Aosta valley owes more in terms of culture to the Francophone Swiss and the French from Savoie than to the rest of Italy.
This can be seen in both the local place names and the names of the wines such as Donnaz, Enfer d'Arvier, Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle. You are unlikely though to encounter the wines from the Valle d'Aosta elsewhere for production is quite limited and the local inhabitants and passing tourists can happily consume it all.
BLANC DE MORGEX ET DE LA SALLE
This is an exceptionally delicious gentle dry white wine that is delicate with a distinctive bouquet of mountain herbs and grass and a fresh taste due to the presence of carbonic acid. This wine is often drunk with the local cheese fondue of Toma and Fontina. Drinking temperature 46.4-50°F (8- 10°C).
You must have seen the large two litre bottles of wine that are served by the glass in most Italian restaurants. These almost certainly originate from the Piave region.
Tocai del Piave is used for the white wines and Merlot del Piave for the reds.
Generally these wines are very drinkable but certainly not representative of the entire area. The region of Piave, which runs along both banks of the Piave river, also makes good wine. There are excellent Cabernet and Cabernet Sauvignons with just sufficient vegetal undertones and tannin to compete with a good French wine (though much cheaper). Merlot and Pinot Nero here are just a little smoother than elsewhere, even sometimes bordering on the sweet.
The best wines are cask aged and are entitled to be called Riserva. Try a typical Italian wine, the Aboso del Piave. This is ruby to granite red with a seductive nose of wild violets and other pleasant woodland aromas. The taste is dry, robust, masculine, freshly acidic, sometimes high in tannin, but always true to character and juicy. Drink at 53.6-57.2°F (12- 14°C) to 60.8°F (16°C) for the Riserva.
The choice with white wines is simpler. The golden yellow but unobtrusive Tocai Italiano is known to most. It goes well with a pizza. Provide it is sufficiently chilled and drunk in moderation it can do little harm. Almost the same is true of the Pinot Bianco and the hardonnay, although the latter is certainly no advertisement for such a world famous grape. Of much greater interest are the sultry and aromatic Pinots Grigio del Piave or elegant, characteristic and exceptionally pleasant Erduzzo del Piave. Drink at 46.4-50°F (8-10°C), but for the Verduzzo and Pinot Grigio.
Efosco dal Pedonculo Rosso is a pleasing and authentic wine. The unusual grape is known as Mondeuse in the French Savoie. Here it produces a wine that is intensely red, slightly tannic with a bitter finish but one that is rounded and filled with flavour. Drinking temperature is 53.6- 57.2°F (12- 14°C).
Other wines from Veneto include Colli Berici DOC, Colli Euganei DOC, Montello/ Colli Asolani DOC, Breganze DOC, Bagnoli di Sopra/Bagnoli DOC, Lison-Pramaggiore DOC, and Lessini Durello DOC.
Wine from Veneto bears the denomination of Garda Orientale DOC, that from Lombardy just carries Garda DOC. The wine must be made from not less than 85% ofthe grapes indicated on the label. These are the well-known Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Riesling Italico, Riesling Renano, and Sauvignon Blanc. These are all excellent wines. Drinking temperature is 46.4-50°F (8-10°C)for Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Bianco, and Rieslings and 50- 53.6°F (10-12°C) for Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio wines. Much more interesting to discover though are the Garganega, Trebbianello, and Cortese white wines.
All three can be either dry or medium dry and they are fairly aromatic and filled with flavour. Drink at 50- 53.6°F (10-12°C). With the red wines there are the essential Cabernets, Merlots, and Pinots Nero wines, which are just as good and as bad as elsewhere in the world. You may also encounter the authentic Marzemino and Corvina wines.