Thursday, October 1, 2009

Italian Wine Primer- Lombardy

In our moving around the Italian Peninsula, I forgot to talk about the area up North, between Piedmont and Trentino. This is the small area at the foot of the Alps called Lombardy. Whereas Piedmont is known for Nebbiolo grapes, and Tuscany is known for Sangiovese, Lombardy doesn't have a grape to call it's "own".
However, there are some pretty cool things coming out of the area. The first of these is Franciacorta. Made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, and Pinot Blanc, this is Italy's only DOC with sparkling wine made from the Champagne Method (you may have to go back in my blogs to remind yourself what this means). Most of the rest of the bubbly in Italy is made by the Charmat Method. I have only tried Franciacorta once, and found it light, slightly bready, and really pretty refreshing.
Another cool area in Lombardy is Lugana. This is near Milan, and the best wines from here are made from trebbiano. They are really hard to find, but if you can, buy one and drink it with some white fish- you will not be disappointed.
The last major wine area in Lombardy is Valtellina. This is where some rustic, but delicious wines are made from the Nebbiolo grape (locally known as Chiavennasca). This is an area that is high altitude as it is in the foothills of the alps. It also gets insane amounts of sunshine- so much that there's a sub-region called "Inferno". Some of these wines can be pricey, but definitely worth it.

That's all the eye-talian I have for you today. Tonight, go and get yourself a bottle of Shiraz. However, I would avoid the 2004 Jim Barry McRae Wood Shiraz. I normally don't post wines that I don't like, but this one struck me funny last night. Normally, the Jim Barry wines are built for a marathon, and last a long time in the cellar. This particular bottle had been stored correctly, but the fruit had been stripped out, and my wife even commented on how "alcoholy" it tasted.

Instead, go look for Mitolo Jester Shiraz. Made by Ben Glaetzer of Amon Ra fame, this shiraz is deep, dark, and delicious. It will cost roughly $20 retail.


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