One of the most intriguing aspects of importing Italian wine directly from the producers themselves, is the amount of indigenous grape varieties you come across; some that are so obscure and in such limited production that they are rarely seen outside their region of cultivation, let alone exported. Generally, you only come across such wines by finding yourself in the very midst of particular pockets of wine country, where they’re served in many of the local, authentic trattorias alongside deliciously prepared regional cuisine. As travel has become far more universal, accessible and advertised, as an Italian wine importer we are asked by more and more clients about those indigenous varieties that they have come across by venturing off the beaten track. They’ve discovered something new, which in today’s world is a rarity, but when it comes to wine, specifically Italian, there are still some fantastic discoveries to be enjoyed. In this blog, we’re going to run through a few that you may or may not have heard of, that we think merit a shout-out from the rooftops and are an absolute must-try for those who enjoy quality wine and are tired of drinking the same old, same old. And let’s face it, we are living in an age where the ‘undiscovered’ is king
Ribolla Gialla (dry white) - meaning ‘yellow ribbon’, perhaps due to its light, delicate character, has been generating a lot of attention in Italy as well as internationally and it’s easy to see why. A Friulian hidden gem, this white wine is alpine-clean crisp and has a harmonious balance of green citrus fruits such as apple and lime that’s wrapped up in a bright acidity, perfect for delicate hams and coastal cuisine such as lightly dusted calamari, whitebait or seafood risotto. A popular lunchtime wine.
Malvasia (dry white) - One of Italy’s go-to spring/summer wines due to its heady aromatics and perfumed notes. Malvasia is, by far, one of Italy’s most fragrant varieties and even though its origins are firmly rooted in Ancient Greece, its modern-day love affair with both Sicily and Friuli-Venezia Giulia is clearly evident. Its versatility is used to make wines that range from dry or off-dry to sweet and unctuous. This one is pale golden in colour and offers an abundance of white flowers, fresh jasmine, acacia, peach, dried apricot and Turkish delight. Enjoy it with oily fish dishes such as an octopus salad or a thick cut of tuna fillet or bake a chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto.
Schiava (red) - Schiava is a dominant component of Alto Adige’s vineyards with more than 50% of the vineyards planted to the light, fragrant red grape that can be reminiscent of Pinot Noirs or well-constructed Beaujolais. It’s widely enjoyed in the summer months due to its violet nose and wild berry and red cherry scents. A perfect summer red, Schiava can be enjoyed slightly chilled, allowing those fresh, juicy forest-fruit flavours and alpine acidity to burst into life. Food companions are easy and uncomplicated, such as tomato-based pasta dishes, or warm goats cheese and red onion tartlets.
Pignolo (dry red) - a rare and romantic style of wine, which has deep black cherry flavours, tarry tannins and notes of tobacco, cocoa and liquorice that lean towards similar characteristics of a powerful Brunello. With only a handful of Pignolo-based wines in Friuli, this really is a limited-production wine, cultivated with meticulous detail and producing some exhilarating wines without the price tag of its Tuscan counterpart. Intense ruby-red in colour with dark purple reflections, the aromas are typically tertiary due to long ageing, lending complex and heady notes of tobacco, vanilla, coffee and ground spice. On the palate, its rich, velvety texture gently envelops the mouth leaving long and persistent dark fruit flavours on the finish. Roast lamb with rosemary and garlic, a hearty beef and lentil stew and aged cheeses will bring out the best of its complexity.
Very enthusiastic wine lover who loves a party!