TODAY’S DISCOVERIES: Italian Wine Laws – DOC Italian wine regions Key grapes and styles Key terms History of wine in Spain Spanish wine laws Spanish wine laws Spanish wine regions Sherry
Some of the grape varieties used today havebeen in use for thousands of years Italy is #1 or #2 in wine production in theworld, depending on the year; it switchesplaces every few years with France Italy is a giant peninsula; it is the modifyinginfluence of the Mediterranean and its riversystems that make Italy such a large producer
Italy has 20 wine regions, correspondingto its political regions Average vineyard size is 2 acres Over 900,000 registered vineyards Over 1,000 documented grapevarietiesMost wine is made in cooperatives
Has two quality levels;broken into two sub-levelsThey are more regulatedtowards the top; the DOCand DOCG laws governthe area ofproduction, grapevarieties, maximum yieldper hectare, degree ofalcohol, vineyardpractices, wine-makingpractices and agingrequirements
Vino da Tavola (VDT) Table wines or wines without any specificgeographic origin VDT’s are not necessarily wines of lesser quality They may just be wines that do not followcurrent Italian wine law (i.e. Super Tuscans) No serious controls on grapes or what regionthey are from
Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) Table wines with a typical geographical indication About 130 IGT’s; labeled on the seal around neckIGT is spelled out on the label Lesser restrictions on soil, area ofproduction, grapes, yield, techniques, aging oralcohol content Some controls on area within the region andthe grapes being used Leaves room for experimentation andinnovation, some very good wines are made in this
Denominazione di Origine Controllata(DOC) Translated as controlled denomination of origin Regionally stylistic, with regional grapes About 350 DOC’s in Italy, labeled on the sealaround the neck (not a pink seal like the DOCG) DOC is spelled out on the label Lesser restrictions on soil, area ofproduction, grapes, yield, techniques, aging oralcohol content
Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita(DOCG) Translated as controlled and guaranteeddenomination of origin Usually denotes the highest quality wines for Italy All 41 DOCG’s have a pink (red) or green (white)seal around neck of bottle with DOCG written on it DOCG is spelled out on the label Tested and analyzed by the government
Home of two of Italy’s top red wines: Barolo and Barbaresco; very full-bodied, tannic and best when aged severalyears Equivalent to the best Bordeaux reds Made from the Nebbiolo grape in a smallcluster of villages (including their namesakes) Located in Southeastern Piemonte Slight differences in microclimates make forslightly different wines
Barolo must be aged a total of three yearsbetween barrel and bottle, five years for Riserva Barbaresco must be aged a total of two yearsbetween barrel and bottle; four for Riserva Other Wines of note: Dry: Gatinnara and Gavi di Gavi Sweet Sparkling: Brachetto D’Aqui & AstiGrape Varietals of note: Red: Nebbiolo, Barbera & Dolcetto White: Moscato, Cortese & Arneis
Veneto One of Italy’s largest wine producers Many of its wines are thin and of low-quality, but theones that are good can be very good! Raisinated Corvina grapes produce Amarone Home of Prosecco, one of Italy’s most popularSpumantes (sparkling wines); used for the Bellini Produces Italy’s most widely exported wines: White: Soave and Red: Valpolicella Both are made in varying quality levels
Friuli-Venezia-Giulia (a.k.a. Friuli) Was part of the Austria until 1866 and stillretains its cultural influences About half of Friuli’s production is red wine, but itis renown for its whites, especially its Pinot Grigios White grapes: Pinot Grigio, PinotBlanc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc andFriuli, which was formerly known as Tokay Red grapes: Merlot, CabernetSauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Schioppettino
Trentino - Alto-Adige Two provinces: Trentino is Italian-speaking Alto-Adige is German-speaking Was part of Austria until after WW1 Wines often labeled in both German and Italian Red grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, CabernetFranc, Langrein, Merlot and other natives White grapes: Chardonnay, Müller-Thurgau, Nosiola, Sauvignon Blanc, and PinotGrigio
Home of three of Italys most important red wines:Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, and Vino Nobile diMontepulciano Most important grape in this region is Sangiovese Super Tuscans emerged from a revolution in winemaking methods and resistance to required grapes In the 1970’s and 80’s, there was a backlashagainst the declining popularity of traditional Chianti Some winemakers began making wines of superbquality from Cabernet Sauvignon & MerlotTuscany
White Grapes: Chardonnay, SauvignonBlanc, Vernaccia, Malvasia and Trebbiano, which isknown as Ugni Blanc in France and Palomino in SpainTuscany Due Home of a highly-prized dessert winecalled Vin Santo, madefrom dried Nosiolagrapes using the samePassito method asVeneto’s Amarone diValpolicella
The Nosiola grapes are laid out on straw matsand kept in warm, well-ventilated rooms that allowthe moisture in the grape to evaporate The longer the grapes are allowed to dry anddesiccate, the higher the resulting residual sugarlevels in the wine; they may be dried up to 6 months Producers may use a starter culture known as amadre that includes a small amount of finished VinSanto from previous years production It is believed that this older wine can help jump-start fermentation and add complexity to the wineVin Santo
Traditionally, the aging barrels were made ofchestnut instead of oak, which contributed highamounts of wood tannins and was veryporous, promoting excessive evaporation in thebarrel As a result of this same traditional agingmethod, a large ullage (air space) emerges in thebarrel and oxidation takes place, giving the wineits characteristic amber color as well as flavorsand traits that may be characterized as faults The wine is aged for 3 to 5 years in the barrelVin Santo Due
Towards the end of the 20th century, moreproduces began switching to oak barrels whilemaintaining the tradition of not topping-up thebarrels and filling in the ullage space This “Angels Share” still produces some level ofoxidation, though not as severe as the style thatwas traditionally made Modern winemaking techniques also call formore temperature control; keeping the wine inrooms with a consistent temperature promotesfresher flavors in the wine and fewer faultsVin Santo Tre
Chianti Main Zone: Chianti Classico is its own DOCG region Red grapes: Sangiovese (between 75% -100%), Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot White grapes: Trebbiano, Malvasia Other Sub-Zones:Chianti Rufina, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Aretini, ColliSenesi, Colline Pisane, and Chianti Montalbano All use the same grapes and make similar winesof varying qualityTuscany’s Notable Reds
Brunello di Montalcino Uses the Brunello clone of the Sangiovese grape Brunellos are very age-able wines, some have beenopened after 100 years and were allegedly still goodVino Nobile di MontepulcianoMade in and around the town of Montepulcianofrom the Prugnolo Gentile clone of Sangiovese The wines are of moderate qualityNot to be confused with the Montepulcianogrape, which is planted in Central/Southern ItalyTuscany’s Notable Reds
Liguria Not a major wine producer; consuming mostly local grapes Red grapes: Ormeasco (Dolcetto), and Dolceacqua, which isused in Rabbit Braised with Olives; a famous regional dish White grapes: Vermentino, Bosco, and AlborolaEmilia-Romagna Italy’s primary food region: Home of Parmigiano-Reggiano, Balsamic Vinegar, and Prosciutto di Parma White grapes: Albana di Romagna Red grapes: Sangiovese Lambrusco: A spritzy purplish wine made from local grapes
Umbria Red wines of note: Torgiano Rossa Riserva (Sangiovese, Canaiolo & Trebbiano) Sangrantino di Montefalco, using the Sangrantino grape White grape: Orvieto; makes a crisp, slightly peachy whiteAbruzzi Major volume wine producer, but few quality wines The exception being Montepulciano d’Abbruzo Made from the Montepulciano grape, it is one of Italy’sbest wine values with large amounts exported to the U.S. Not the same as Vino Nobile de Montepulciano, which isa Tuscan wine made from SangioveiseWhite wine: Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (Bombino Bianco)
Campania, Apulia, Basilicata,& Calabria Italy’s southern-most regions Hot climate, lots of poverty, both of which lead tohigh-volume production of lower quality wines Most of the wine is made by cooperativesRed: Aglianico, Negroamaro, Uva di Troia & Primitivo There is speculation as to whether Primitivo, also thoughtto be Croatia’s Plavatz Mali, is the original ZinfandelWhite: Famous for Falanghina, a white varietal whichwas the favorite of the Romans; of Greek origin
Sicily Sicily’s most notable wine is Marsala, produced in theregion surrounding the city of the same name Sicily is also home to some great Nero d’Avola wines Marsala, which first received DOC status in 1969, is afortified wine similar to Port, Madeira and Sherry Originally, Marsala wine was fortified to ensure that itwould last long ocean voyages, but now it is made that waybecause of its popularity in foreign markets Marsala contains about 15-20% alcohol by volume Different Marsala wines are classified according to theircolor, sweetness and the duration of their aging
The 3 levels of sweetness in Marsala:Secco (Dry)Semisecco (Medium-Dry)Dolce (Sweet)The Color Classifications: Oro has a golden color Ambra has an amber color The coloring comes from the mosto cotto (cookedgrape must); a sweetener added to the wine Rubino has a ruby color, made from red grapevarieties such as Perricone, Calabrese, NerodAvola and Nerello Mascalese
The Marsala Aging ClassificationsMarsala was traditionally served as an apéritif between thefirst and second courses of a meal. Contemporary diners willserve it chilled with Parmesan, Gorgonzola, Roquefort, andother spicy cheeses; with fruits or pastries, or at room-temperature as a dessert wine. Marsala is sometimesdiscussed with another Sicilian wine, Passito di Pantelleria(Pantelleria Islands passito-method raisinated wine).Fine: Has minimal aging, typically less than a yearSuperiore: Aged at least 2 yearsSuperiore Riserva: Aged at least 4 yearsVergine a.k.a. Soleras: Aged at least 5 yearsVergine a.k.a. Soleras Stravecchio/Riserva: Aged at least 10 yrs.
Grape-Stomping Also known as pigeage, grape-stomping has been aroundalmost as long as wine and has certain advantages When in the vat treading the grapes, one can feel the clumpsand break them up, avoiding hot spots in the must, the feethaving a different motion than the mechanical crusher/de-stemmer, which is essentially a giant auger The down-side, is that foot-treading is much slower and morelabor intensive. Cockburns is one winery (Port) who still stomp theirgrapes, but most wine regions today have outlawed it for healthreasons Grape stomps occur country-wide at local festivals and wineryevents, but the juice isnt used to make wine; its just for fun!
Vocabulary to Understand Italian WinesTenementi: EstateVendemmia: VintageRiserva: Aged (usuallyover 3 yrs.)Imbottigliato: Estate-bottledFiasco: FlaskBianco: WhiteRosso: RedNero: Very dark redRosato: PinkAmaro: Bitter or very dryDolce: Very sweetCantina: Cellar or wineryCotto: ConcentratedVino Liquoroso: FortifiedWines
Grapes grown in Spain for over 5,000 years! More land planted with vineyards thenanywhere else in the world Approximately 3.5 million acres and ranksthird in wine production in the world Has a large number of old, low-yielding vinesplanted on dry, infertile land Until recently, Spain was known for low-qualitywine and its fortified Sherries, but moderntechniques and equipment have set Spain on apath to producing excellent wines
Diverse environment means Spain produces awide variety of wines:Light, dry white wines from the cool Atlantic regionin the northeast Dry, full-bodied red wines from the north centralhighlands Heavy, high-alcohol red wines from the easternplains and the Mediterranean south Fortified wines from the sun-baked southwest
Vino de Mesa (VdM) These are wines that are the equivalent ofmost countrys table wines and are made fromunclassified vineyards or grapes that have beendeclassified through "illegal" blending Similar to the Italian Super Tuscans from thelate 20th century, some Spanish winemakers willintentionally declassify their wines so that theyhave greater flexibility in blending andwinemaking methods
Vinos de la Tierra (VdlT) This level is similar to Frances Vin de Payssystem, normally corresponding to the largerComunidad Autonóma geographical regions and willappear on the label with broader geographicaldesignations like Andalucía, Castilla La Mancha andLevanteVino de Calidad Producido en Región Determinada(VCPRD) This level is similar to Frances Vin Délimité deQualité Supérieure (VDQS) system and is considereda stepping-stone towards DO status
Denominación de Origen (DO) This level is for the mainstream quality-wine regions which are regulated by theConsejo Regulador who is also responsiblefor marketing the wines of that DO In 2005, nearly two-thirds of the totalvineyard area in Spain was within theboundaries of a DO region
Denominación de Origen Calificada (DOCa) This designation, which is similar to ItalysDenominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita(DOCG) designation, is for regions with a trackrecord of consistent quality and is meant to be astep above DO level Rioja was the first region afforded thisdesignation in 1991 and was followed by Priorat in2003, and Ribera del Duero in 2008
But what really designates Spanishwines is the aging! Spanish wines are often labeled according to the amountof aging the wine has received. When the label says VinoJoven (Young Wine) or Sin Crianza, the wines will haveundergone very little, if any, wood aging Depending on the producer, some of these wines will bemeant to be consumed very young; often within a year oftheir release. Others will benefit from some bottle-aging For the vintage year (Vendimia or Cosecha) to appear onthe label, a minimum of 85% of the grapes must be fromthat years harvest The three most common aging designations on Spanishwine labels are Crianza, Reserva and Gran Reserva
CrianzaRed wines are aged for 2 years with at least 6 monthsin oak. Crianza whites and rosés must be aged for atleast 1 year with at least 6 months in oak.ReservaRed wines are aged for at least 3 years with at least 1year in oak. Reserva whites and rosés must be agedfor at least 2 years with at least 6 months in oak.Gran ReservaFrom above-average vintages with reds aged at least 5yrs.; 18 months in oak and a minimum of 36 monthsin the bottle. Gran Reserva whites and rosés must beaged for at least 4 yrs. with at least 6 months in oak.
Other Spanish aging terms thatyou may encounter…Vino Noble (Noble Wine)Indicating a minimum of 18 months aging eitherin barrel or in the bottle.Vino Añejo (Aged Wine)Indicating a minimum of 24 months aging eitherin barrel or in the bottle.Vino Viejo (Old Wine)Indicating a minimum of 36 months aging in anoxidative environment including exposure tolight, heat, and oxygen.
White Riojas can be awful stuff, but there is somegood white wine to be found in Spain. In Galícia, themost north-western part of Spain, Rias Baixas can bevery drinkable. The wines are made from the Albariñogrape, and many are cold-fermented to maintainfreshness, the antithesis of old-style Rioja whites. Further to the east, and just a little south, isRueda. The reputation of this DO once rested on theSherry-like wines it produced, but it is now the homeof some more examples of good Spanish whitesmade from the Verdejo grape.Spain’s North: Galícia & Rueda
Further across is the Ribera del Duero, a region ofvineyards situated around the Duero River, which, asit flows west through Portugal, becomes the Douro,home to the vineyards that give rise to Port Despite Riojas reputation, it is Ribera del Duerothat is home to Spains most expensive wineproduced by Vega Sicilia There are some splendid wines to be had in thisregion, based on a mixture of international (CabernetSauvignon) and indigenous (Tempranillo) grapesSpain’s North: Ribera del Duero
Further east, and back to the north, is Rioja The epitome of fine red Spanish wine forgenerations, many Riojas can still be superb Styles vary; from easy-drinking Crianzas (someReservas), to the Reservas and Gran Reservas oftop estates which mature and improve for decades The grape of note is the Tempranillo, althoughthere are some plantings of lesser grapes, includingGarnacha Tinta (known as Grenache in France)Spain’s North: Rioja
Rioja is divided up into three regions: Rioja Alta is by far the most important Also the name of one of the top estates Rioja Alavesa produces some drinkablewines Rioja Baja is less-known for qualitywinesRioja Parte Dos
Spain’s Northeast: Navarra & Priorato Just to the northeast is Navarra, often cited asan up and coming rival to Rioja Moving across to the Mediterranean coast thereare a number of DO regions, such as Priorato andSomontano, which for many years producednothing of great interest Quite recently, however, Priorato has beenmaking waves, with big, age-worthy and excitingwines from the likes of Clos Mogador and ClosErasmus
Spain’s Northeast: Penedès Penedès is also worthy of mention, not leastbecause it is home to Torres, one of Spains mostwell known wine makers This company, led by Miguel Torres, produces avast array of styles using a number of indigenousand international grapes, from sparkling Cavathrough to Gran Reserva reds They also have related outposts in Chile(Miguel Torres) and California (Marimar Torres)
Just one region dominates Central Spain, andthat is La Mancha This is a vast million acre DO, which relies onAirén for its whites, and Cencibel (another namefor Tempranillo, just to confuse you) and GarnachaTinta (Grenache), among others, for its reds It has been predicted that La Mancha wasgoing to be the next big success story, following inthe footsteps of the Napa Valley and CoonawarraCentral Spain: La Mancha
Just to the south of La Mancha is Valdepeñas, ared wine region, much less important than Rioja orthe Ribera del Duero, which produces a fewdrinkable wines Some of the best producers are using oak-aging to add more appeal to their wines Further to the east are the DO’s of Almansa,Valencia, Alicante, Jumilla, Yecla and Utiel-Requena Some good-value wines to be found hereCentral Spain: Valdepeñas
This is the home of Sherry, produced from asmall region around the town of Jerez Sherry is made principally from the Palomino andPedro Ximénez grapes, with a splash of Moscatel The grapes are harvested and fermented in thenormal way, but the wines are then left in contactwith air for a prolonged period of time Some will simply oxidize, whereas some developa coating of Flor, a thick layer of yeast on thesurface, which imparts a distinctive flavorSouthern Spain: Jerez
The wines then pass through a Solera system,a tier of barrels containing wine of differing ages,oldest at the bottom and youngest at the top The wine in the lowest barrel is drawn-off andbottled; each barrel is then topped-up with winefrom the one above This maintains a steady stream of wine ofsimilar character year after year, and explainswhy sherry is almost never vintage datedSouthern Spain: Jerez
Fino is a very light, bone-dry and delicate Sherry that ischaracterized by Flor. It often contains 15 to 18% of alcohol Manzanilla comes from the Sanlucar district along thesea coast. The sea-air leads the Sherry to develop a saltytaste. These wines also have Flor and are produced usingthe same process as Fino, but as weather conditions arevery different in Sanlucar, it develops into a slightly differentkind of wine, often containing 15 to 19% alcohol Amontillado is similar to Fino, without as much Flordevelopment. It is deeper in color and sweeter than Fino andis barrel-aged longer; it often contains 16 to 22% of alcoholSherry Categories
Oloroso Sherry is deeper/darker in color and has moreresidual sugar. It is more fortified, and often contains 17 to22% alcohol Cream Sherry is very rich and can be a good dessert-style wine. It often contains 15.5 to 22% of alcohol Pedro Ximénez is a very rich dessert-style wine madefrom raisins of Pedro Ximénez grapes dried in the sun. Itoften contains around 18% of alcohol Palo Cortado is very rare, as it is an Oloroso wine thatages in a different, natural way not achievable by humanintervention. It often contains 17 to 22% of alcohol.Sherry Categories
And then, there is Cava!Cava is a Spanish sparkling wine madeusing the French Méthode Champenoise Originated in Spain’s Catalonia region at theCodorníu Winery in the late 19th century The wine was originally known as Champañauntil Spanish producers officially adopted theterm "Cava" (Cellar) in 1970, in reference tothe under-ground cellars in which the winesferment and age in the bottle
Cava is Spain’s Sparkling Wine The early Cava industry was nurtured by thephylloxera epidemic of the late 19thcentury, which caused the destruction and up-rooting of vineyards planted with red grapevarieties With the success of Champagne, Codorníu andothers encouraged vineyard owners to re-plantwith white grape varieties like Macabeo, Parelladaand Xarel·lo, which are still the primary grapes ofCava today; some producers are experimentingwith the use of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Cava DO Regions For most of its existence, Cava production was notregulated to a particular region of DO, but rather tothe grapes and method of production Upon acceptance into the European Union in1986, Spain moved to designate Cava productionregions Today, use of the term "Cava" is restricted toproduction around select municipalities inCatalonia, Aragon, Castile andLeón, Valencia, Extremadura, Navarra, the BasqueCountry, and Rioja 95% of Spains Cava production is from
A pure Pinot Grigio from northern Italyvinified in in temperature controlledstainless steel vats. Pale gold in color. Adistinctive bouquet of wild flowers and hintsof honey and a palate of crisp apples.Dry, crisp, and refreshing on the palate.Beautifully balanced to compliment a widerange of foods from whitemeats, shellfish, and freshwater.2011 Ca’ Donini Delle Venezie, PinotGrigio, Italy
Fattoria Bibbiani is an old school wine estate, with a history of at least 1300years. It has been with the Donato family for over 150 and is located 20kilometres west of Florence on the bank of the Arno river. This is an interestingwinery that has championed such projects as varietally bottling a unique cloneof Sangiovese (Pulignano) that only exists on their estate. Bibbiani makes theirChianti with neutral methods, seeking simple purity of fruit. Techniquesinclude: spurred cordon trained vines, stainless steel maceration andfermentation, and Slavonian oak aging in 10 year old barrels. The soils arelimestone, clay and sandstone. Production is about 5,000 cases.Abundant, easily expressible cherry and strawberry fruit elide attempts atcomplexification. This is charming, free wheeling wine: clean, pure, simple anddelicious. It also happens to be rockin’ tasty with pretty sweet fruit, leather andmedium body. Perfectly suited for high acid pastas, pizza and anything withtomatos. In many wine lover’s search for greatness, they can miss theinimitable basic purity of a wine like this Chianti.13% ABV. Blend: 85% Sangiovese, 10% Canaiolo & 5% Malvasia2011 Bibbiabi, Poggio Vignoso, Chianti, Italy
SOIL: Shallow red soil on layers of calcareous rockWINEMAKING PROCESSES AND REFININGPre-fermentary maceration, temperature controlledfermentation, refining in steel tanksCOLOR: Ruby-redTASTE: Pleasant, aromaticBOUQUET: Vanilla, blueberries and spices2008 Menhir, Cinque Passi, Negroamaro, Puglia, Italy
2006 Anciano, Gran Reserva Tempranillo,5 Years, Valdepeñas, SpainColor: Dark ruby shading to brick redNose: Spicy notes of leather and vanillaPalate: Fruit compote and licoriceFinish: Long, & velvetyThe Tempranillo grapes were hand-picked from 25year old vines in stony Valdepeñas vineyards. Thesoil is clayey-lime and the climate continental -cold winters and hot, dry summers. The growerstake care to harvest to achieve optimum ripenesswhile maintaining good acidity.
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