Italy’s wealth of grape varieties presents wine connoisseurs with many tantalizing prospects, particularly on the red wine spectrum. While Sangiovese and Nebbiolo still reign supreme, numerous grape varieties have re-emerged from hiding in recent years to spellbind wine lovers around the world. In Italy, the story of how some of these grapes transitioned from obscurity to fashionably cool can be just as compelling as the wines themselves. In many cases, the wines from these grapes are shining in a way they never have before, thanks to more informed decisions in the vineyard and winery.
Here are five up-and-coming Italian red grapes to pay attention to. While all of these grapes have been around for centuries, their resurgence has meant a quality revolution and increased interest from the international marketplace.
While Italian red wines still garner much of the attention, there are, without doubt, many outstanding white wines that deserve consideration. While white wines like Soave, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi or Fiano di Avellino, are already well-known, there are also lesser-known — but rightfully trending — Italian white grape varieties that today produce exciting wines worth seeking out.
The best-known wines of Piemonte, such as Barolo, Barbaresco, Roero Arneis and Moscato d’Asti are produced from grapes grown in the southern sector of the region; this includes the province of Cuneo and Asti, in districts such as the Langhe and Roero. But farther north, Alto Piemonte is a territory that is home to some of the region’s most complex, yet least understood wines. Gattinara, Boca and Ghemme are a few of these selections, and these days, greater attention is being paid to these wines and this relatively unknown viticultural outpost.
Drinking and discovering Montepulciano (the grape) d'Abruzzo is like looking at a painter's palette, so many colors, so many shades and so many possibilities. Montepulciano is one of Italy's most versatile grapes that can produce terrific rosatos, quaffable reds for any occasion but also some of Italy's boldest and age-worthy wines, worth every sip.
Ciro Pirone, Director of Italian Wines for Horizon Beverage Company, is a graduate of the Istituto Alberghiero (Hotel and Restaurant Management school) of Salerno, Italy. Traveling and working in Italy, England and the US, Ciro developed an incredible passion for wine, food and culture. After all, growing up in Italy, wine was always a very important part of his family’s lifestyle and traditions.
In 1999, Ciro moved to the US permanently. He landed in Boston, where he continued his wine studies at Boston University, the International Sommelier Guild and the London –based Wine & Spirits Educational Trust (WSET). In 2007, Ciro accepted the position of Italian Wine Specialist for Horizon Beverage. After successful growth at HBC, Ciro accepted on a new challenge as the US Brand Manager for the Arnaldo Caprai Winery of Montefalco (Umbria), the top producer of worldwide recognized Sagrantino di Montefalco. In June 2011, Ciro returned to Horizon Beverage with a new position of Director of Italian Wines in support of their expanding presence in the New England marketplace. Ciro is happy to share his passion for Italian wine and culture in an effort to give the American wine consumer a better understanding and appreciation for Italian wine!
This fascinating webinar will focus on the ‘red hot’ wines of Sicily from regions such as Etna and Vittoria. Jimmy will cover how the very distinctive soils such as lava rock and limestone craft a wonderful array of elegant but complex styles of wine. Jimmy will set the scene by guiding you through the complex history of this large island, and through discovering the volcanic effect from Etna, Stromboli and Vulcano, he will explain how these volcanic soils craft different wines from mainland Sicily.
Jimmy Smith is the Founder and Head of Education at West London Wine School. Jimmy was named Drinks Business Man of the Year in 2019, and Wine Scholar Guild’s Italian Wine Scholar Educator of the Year in 2018. He is also has educated over 6000 students through the WSET Level 1, 2 and 3 Award certification programs. It’s the all-important infectious enthusiasm and passion for the world of wine that enables Jimmy to communicate to his audience without the use of confusing (& boring!) technical facts often detailed in wine tastings.
The story goes that a couple of years ago, at a high society charity event in Milan a noted British rock star was served a sparkling wine that impressed him so much that he asked to be introduced to its producer who happened to be present at the event, and to whom he is reported to have said “This is the greatest Prosecco I’ve ever tasted”. The wine was in fact a metodo classico riserva made by one of Franciacorta’s top producers. The anecdote may be apocryphal, but it could easily be true. The big wide world (and not only – the misconception is also becoming common in Italy) has started to perceive anything Italian with bubbles as Prosecco, without distinction of origin or refermentation method.
Piedmont is most known for its Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto, the three core varieties that form the backbone of the Langhe, Piedmont’s most famous sub-region.
But a number of other exciting indigenous and qualitative varieties make up the region’s complex viticultural patchwork.
This webinar will focus on 4 lesser known whites – Arneis, Nascetta, Erbaluce and Timorasso - as well as 4 reds – Freisa, Grignolino, Pelaverga and Ruchè and discuss their individual histories, characteristics, attributes and unique challenges.
Originally from the Chicago area, Robin is a Master of Wine who is presently based in Lugano, Switzerland, where she works as an independent wine consultant, wine judge, journalist and educator.
Following studies in French and English literature, she changed career paths in 1998 when she left her teaching position at the Université de Nice to study wine at the BIVB (Bureau Interprofessionel des Vins de Bourgogne) in Beaune, France and the Université du Vin in Suze-la-Rousse in France’s Rhône Valley.
In the 20+ years of working in the wine business, she has held a number of different positions including wine auction specialist for Christie’s in Beverly Hills, California and fine wine buyer for a pre-eminent London-based wine merchant with an award-winning Burgundy list.
In 2014, after many years of study and a successful dissertation on whole cluster fermentation in Pinot Noir from the Côte d’Or, she became a Master of Wine.
Her main wine passions are Burgundy, Champagne, northern Italy, particularly Piedmont, Switzerland and Jerez.
The Orvieto wine-producing region in Umbria is a whole package of beauty, history, cultural richness, and extraordinary wines, a region that sometimes flies under the radar beside its famous neighbors in Tuscany.
Orvieto wines were the prize of the renaissance period in Italy, but in recent history the wines have been better known for deliciously democratic wines led by cooperatives and wines bottled by Tuscan giants like Antinori, and Ruffino. In the last 40 years Orvieto has undergone an Estate bottling revolution, which has spurred a culture of quality and pursuit of terroir values in the region, yet the pleasure to be found here is still under-recognized. Did you know, for example, that Orvieto is the only DOC in Italy to regulate the production of Noble Rot, or that Orvieto has both marine sedimentary soils, as well as volcanic ones? Well, these little known facts, just scratch the surface of wonders to be discovered in Orvieto!
In this class, we will uncover the magic and mystery of this region: the town, the terroirs, the wines, and the people who create them.
Tanya Morning Star Darling is a full time wine educator with nearly 3 decades of industry experience. Her school Cellar Muse is the approved program provider for Wine Scholar Certifications (French, Italian, and Spanish) in the Seattle area. She also teaches WSET coursework, and is Faculty at the Northwest Wine Academy at South Seattle College.
Tanya has family in Umbria, and recently completed a comprehensive research project in partnership with the Orvieto Consorzio, where she visited almost every estate and cooperative producer in the region, and tasted nearly every single wine produced in the DOC. Tanya is proud to be Orvieto’s first and only Ambassador of Orvieto Wines, and to have the pleasure of sharing these wines with the world!