Our Picks: Summer Wines from Central Italy
This week we continue our exploration of Italy’s diverse grape varieties and wine styles in Central Italy.
Our first stop is Castelvetro, a small town in the province of Modena in Emilia-Romagna, where Villa Cialdini produces delicious premium quality sparkling wines from Lambrusco and Pignoletto. The latter is a white variety, also known as Grechetto Gentile, which gives wonderfully refreshing wines with distinctive aromas of pear, apple and floral notes. It is the perfect aperitif, but also pairs particularly well with cured meats and seafood.
Next we discover the Cantine Belisario Verdicchio di Matelica from Le Marche. Whereas Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi is sourced from vineyards close to the Adriatic coast, where the sandy soils and hot Mediterranean climate produce full and fruit-driven wines, Verdicchio di Matelica, on the other hand, comes from sites located inland at a higher elevation and with a more continental climate, resulting in aromatic, complex and floral wines.
Over to Tuscany, the land of Sangiovese, where we visit Lamole, a 'secret' corner of this fabulous wine region that is situated high above Panzano. The Fontodi Filetta di Lamole Chianti Classico is produced by Giovanni Manetti from a few parcels of old Sangiovese (some bush-trained) that survived the replanting in the 1970s.
We continue to Montepulciano, a small town in the Province of Siena. Here, Tenuta Valdipiatta's Vino Nobile is made with Prugnolo Gentile, the local clone of Sangiovese, resulting in an elegant, supple wine with refreshing acidity and great structure.
Beyond Sangiovese, Tuscany produces charming, aromatic whites from Vermentino. One of our summer favourites is the Poggiotondo Organic Vermentino, a dry, unoaked wine with a lovely mineral character that is sourced from vineyards on the Tuscan coast.
Poggio al Tesoro’s `Cassiopea` Rosato is a homage to Bolgheri's rosé wine-producing tradition. This fragrant Cabernet Franc and Merlot based wine is deliciously fruity and works beautifully as an aperitif, while having the structure to accompany a wide range of dishes.
We conclude in Lazio with Principe Pallavicini’s vibrant, elegant and minerally white Roma DOC made from the indigenous Malvasia Puntinata. 'Puntinata' means 'spotted' in Italian and refers to the black spots that appear on the skins of the grapes at ripening time.
Villa Cialdini, Pignoletto Sparkling Brut Modena 2020
Brothers Anselmo and Mauro Chiarli started their project dedicated to producing premium quality Lambrusco at the Azienda Agricola Castelvetro estate, south-east of Modena, in 2002. Their 52 hectares of vineyard are mainly planted with Grasparossa, the lower yielding and most concentrated clone of Lambrusco. From these same vineyards comes this local sparkling white made by the tank method from Pignoletto (also known as Grechetto Gentile), an ancient grape variety from Emilia. The result is a lively, fruity and extremely refreshing sparkling wine.
Cantine Belisario, `Vigneti B` Verdicchio di Matelica 2019
Cantine Belisario has 24 organically cultivated vineyards in Matelica, which is located inland from the larger Castelli di Jesi zone of the Marche region. Here, the climate is more continental and the combination of warm days and cool nights allows the aromatic characters of the grapes to develop and extends the growing season. The fruit for their organic ‘Vigneti B’ Verdicchio is sourced from a 20-hectare vineyard in the Lancioni Calle town on a south-facing hillside at an altitude between 420 and 620 metres above sea level. It is a complex and ageworthy example of Verdicchio di Matelica with wax and grapefruit aromas, and a persistent finish.
Poggiotondo, Organic Vermentino 2020
Alberto Antonini’s Poggiotondo estate is situated in the hills to the north-west of Empoli in western Tuscany and has been certified organic since the 2014 vintage. His deliciously aromatic Vermentino is sourced from vineyards located on the Tuscan coast, where the variety thrives thanks to the proximity to the sea, the mild climate and soils of marine origin. Unooaked to preserve its varietal character, the wine was aged on fine lees for 60 days before bottling and has a refreshing acidity, a rich texture and a savoury finish.
Poggio al Tesoro, `Cassiopea` Bolgheri Rosato 2020
Poggio al Tesoro is a 70-hectare property acquired in 2002 by the Allegrini family. All the vineyards are located in the “Soprastrada” area of Bolgheri, where the denomination’s best vineyards are located. The soils are complex and varied and have been carefully mapped to match the best variety to each plot. `Cassiopea` is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot from the Le Sondraie vineyard and is a homage to Bolgheri's rosé wine-producing tradition. It is a deliciously fruity rosé, softly pressed and fermented in stainless steel then kept on fine lees until bottling to add complexity. Its crisp, easy-drinking style makes it perfect as an aperitif, while also having the structure to pair with a broad range of dishes.
Fontodi Filetta di Lamole, Chianti Classico 2018
Lamole is a forgotten corner of Chianti, situated high above Panzano, with a few parcels of old Sangiovese that survived the replanting decimation of the early 1970s because they were so far away from the heart of Chianti. Giovanni Manetti of Fontodi long harboured the dream of making a wine from Lamole, as he regards it as one of the most distinctive zones in Chianti. The sandy soils and high altitude (620 metres above sea level) with its cool nights and extended growing season, enhance the aromatics, creating wines that are both scented and elegant. He convinced a cousin to work with him on seven hectares of vineyard at a property called Filetta. Together they restored the vineyard to health, and by 2014 were ready to pick their first grapes. Aged in large oak, the resulting wine is a beguiling charmer, with Pinot Noir-like clarity in both the glass and on the nose. The wine displays a lifted character with dark cherry aromas and an elegant palate supported by fine grainy tannins.
Tenuta Valdipiatta, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2017
Located at the heart of the Vino Nobile zone, Tenuta Valdipiatta has been run by Miriam Caporali since 2002, who brought in top Bordeaux oenologist, Eric Boissenot in 2010 (Boissenot also consults for Chateaux Lafite, Latour, Margaux and Palmer). The property comprises 30 hectares, of which 22 hectares are under vine and planted primarily with Sangiovese (known locally as Prugnolo Gentile in Montepulciano) and Canaiolo. Their Vino Nobile is elegant and supple with refreshing acidity and great structure, and is an ideal partner for barbecued red meats and aged cheeses.
Principe Pallavicini, Malvasia Puntinata Roma 2019
The history of the Pallavicini family, which has owned land in the Lazio for hundreds of years, is entwined with that of popes, cardinals, generals and princes. Their estate is located in the heart of Castelli Romani area southeast of Rome and their winery is built over a Roman cistern and aqueduct. In this historical context, modern techniques are used to make clean and vibrant wines that showcase the distinctive characters of their indigenous varieties. This white Roma DOC is made from 100% Malvasia del Lazio, also known as Malvasia Puntinata. It is a wine of great finesse, with delicate aromas of apricot and peach, intense almond flavours and a lingering mineral finish.