Travel & Living

L'Officiel's Guide to Wines of Southern Italy

Pour it up, pour it up!
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Montepulciano from Abruzzo

Legend has it that this Montepulciano was Hannibal’s favorite wine during his siege of Rome (not to be confused with the Nobile di Montepulciano that he also allegedly enjoyed from Tuscany). This wine hails from vineyards located between the provinces of L’Aquila, Chieti, and Pescara, and are usually left to age for at least two years in oak barrels. The result? A structured and long-lived wine.

 

Serving Suggestions: Their intense spicy notes make these wines particularly suitable for meat dishes, mushrooms, and aged cheeses.

Aglianico from Basilicata

Aglianico is a wine of ancient origins, brought by the Greeks to Italy more than two thousand years ago. Mainly produced in the Potenza province, the ruby red wine comes from small, blue-blackish berries that have faded with age. This aging takes place in large barrels for three to five years.

 

Serving Suggestions: This wine has a very intense aroma, rich in woody and floral notes. Often defined as ‘Barolo del Sud,’ this red is great with grilled meats and game.

Greco di Tufo from Campania

Since 2003, Greco di Tufo has earned itself D.O.C.G. recognition—legitimizing its supremacy among the famous wines of Campania. Obtained from—you guessed it—Greco grapes, this wine hails from Tufo in the province of Avellino. It’s a dry white wine that has matured for at least three years. Greco di Tufo’s straw yellow color translates into a very fresh palate with fruity notes and aromatic herbs.

 

Serving suggestions: It goes perfectly with fish and seafood, risotto and cheeses like buffalo mozzarella.

 

Frascati from Lazio

Frascati is produced in the Lazio region of, yes, Frascati and is one of the most famous Italian white wines in the world. It comes from the vineyards of Malvasia and Trebbiano, and presents a straw yellow color when it’s dry or a golden yellow when sweeter. The aromatic notes are fruity, while the palate is soft and fresh.

 

Serving suggestions: This is an ideal aperitif wine, but it can also be enjoyed with fish, white meats and carbonara.

Vermentino Ligure from Liguria

Ligurian vineyards tend to suffer from the precarious marine terraces of Riviera di Ponente, but the result is an elegantly tasting wine. Soft and dry, Vermentino Ligure has delicate floral aromas that are typical of the Mediterranean.

 

Serving Suggestions: This wine is an ideal companion to stuffed vegetables as well as simple seafood recipes.

Verdicchio from the Marche

Verdicchio is the grape from which Verdicchio de Matelica is produced. These grapes, located between the Marche provinces of Ancona and Macerata, produce very light and fresh and floral wines that take on more structure when aged in a cask. Likewise, the straw yellow color deepens and intensifies with age in the Reserve versions of these wines and the floral and fruity olfactory notes have a slight almond sense to them.

 

Serving suggestions: Verdicchio is a wine that lends itself to grilled fish and white meats whose sauces aren’t too elaborate.

Biferno from Molise

Arguably, the most intriguing red wine varieties can be found in Molise, located in the province of Campobasso. With an intense ruby color, hints of berries, and notes of liquorice on the nose, Biferno has a tannic and fruity flavor.

 

Serving suggestions: White and red meats can be enhanced by the velvet consistency of the wine, as well as aged cheeses and mushroom-based recipes.

Primitivo from Puglia

Primitivo di Manduria, second only to Tuscan wines in its D.O.C.G. rating, hails form the southern region of Puglia between Brindisi and Taranto. It is the calcareous and ion-rich soils of the area that produce red grapes with very high aromatic values. Primitivo’s violet tinged color translates into rich olfactory notes of fruits and spices while a strong, lasting tannin component can be sensed on the palate.

 

Serving Suggestions: Primitivo is ideal with red meats, aged cheeses and cured meats.

Nero D'Avola from Sicily

Cultivated from sandy and calcareous soils, Nero d’Avola vineyards are some of the most widespread across Sicily and are characterized by its dark blue berries and high sugar content. The resulting ruby red color takes on different intensities depending on where it’s produced, as well as different aromas depending on the type of vinification that takes place (i.e. be it steel or wood). That being said, the flavor tends to consistently be spicy with balsamic notes.

 

Serving suggestions: Nero d’Avola is excellent with spicy dishes, aged regional cheeses, but also white means like chicken and rabbit. It also matches particularly well with Sicilian recipes as well as recipes based on aubergines.

Cannonau from Sardinia

This wine also comes from one of the most widespread vineyards in Sardinia—vineyards that, in fact, date as far back to three thousand years ago and are thus among the oldest in the world. Characterized by a medium-sized blackberry, it is mainly produced in the areas of Nuoro in the central region of Mandrolisai and the wine must contain a minimum of 85% Cannonau grapes. The intense ruby red color is caused by a good structure as well as aromatic floral and red fruits notes on the palates.

 

Serving Suggestions: Cannonau is perfect with lamb, game and other grilled or roasted meats.

Sagrantino from Umbria

The famous Sagrantino di Montefalco is born in the province of Perugia from native Umbrian grapes. In its dry version, this wine is aged for almost three years as opposed to the usual twelve months. Sagrantino has a deep red color with fruity jam-like perfumes and spicy tips.

 

Serving suggestions: Sagrantino is ideal with roasts, game and hard cheeses.

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