Well, I ought to know a little bit about Italian wine since that is my namesake! While taking our virtual tour around the world of wine, we make a stop in Italy this month. Italy is almost twice the size of the state of Florida, with wine grapes growing in nearly every corner of the country; from Puglia, the “heel of the boot” to Alto Adige bordering along the Alps with Austria and Switzerland, to the coastal areas of Tuscany. We explore exciting Appellations and wines you can find here on our shelves, which will transport you half a world away.
Let’s start with my name- Brunello! Brunello literally translates to brown, and I have the sweetest brown eyes, and softest snowy white fur, but I digress. Brunello is a wine made of 100% Sangiovese grapes- Sangiovese is the signature grape of Tuscany, the wine region Brunello di Montalcino lies in the heart of Tuscany, and is world famous for its long aging in large Slavonian oak vats. DOCG regulations require that Brunello vineyards must be planted on hillsides that slope with good sun exposure with altitudes just shy of 1, 968 feet (six hundred meters). Any higher elevation and it is believed the wine quality would be compromised due to the temperature changes and micro climates. Montalcino boasts one of the warmest and driest climates in Tuscany, and the rules help ensure the wines are of great quality. Brunello must be aged for at least four years, two of which must be in oak, and it must be bottled four months prior to release. Brunello is an amazing wine and I am an amazing dog- come by and bring me a dog cookie and you will see!
Tuscany is also home to the world famous Chianti region, which also features the Sangiovese grape. Tuscany covers both coastal and inland parts of Italy (over 8,900 square miles) between Florence and Siena. You may recall your first sip of Chianti out of a bottle wrapped in a straw basket! Chianti can range in quality but is always made with Sangiovese and come from within the Chianti region.
The very top right of the boot lies Italy’s northeastern most region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. It borders Austria to the north and Slovenia to the east and has a pretty mild climate. As a wine growing region, Friuli has diverse soils and has become well known for its Pinot Grigio (as have Alto Adige, Lombardy and Trentino). Pinot Grigio was born in Burgundy, known as Pinot Gris, but also found in Alsace (known as Tokay d’ Alsace), where it made its way to Italy through Switzerland in the 1300’s. Pinot Grigio has become the most popular exported white grape of Italy.
Here are a few Italian classics we have on our shelves (and our temperature controlled wine room) that represent some of the best of Italy:
Attems Pinot Grigio The Attems Winery is one of Friuli’s most historic producers- Count Douglas Attems led his family’s estate for the second half of the 20th Century, but also helped found the Consorzio dei vini del Collio in 1964, leading the region to DOCG status. The nose on the Attems Pinot Grigio expresses a great personality reflecting the terroir of the region of Friuli. You’ll savor the peach blossom on the nose, with flavors of green melon and ripe pear, I give it three bones.
Guidobano Roero Arneis This white wine is spritzy and full of yellow plum and citrus flavors. Guidobano is a young project of two brothers who recently bought property in the Roero region of Piedmont. This region is known for Barolo and Barbaresco for reds, and a lovely, fresh crisp white, occasionally referred to as “Barolo Bianco”. Arneis is cultivated almost exclusively in Piedmont, showing a perfumed nose of peach and fresh green apple and pineapple flavors with a dry finish. Perfect for our steamy Florida afternoons by the pool, I give it two bones.
Ornellaia Le Volte A “Super Tuscan” blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Sangiovese from an iconic winery in Bolgheri,Tuscany. Le Volte is aged gently in small oak barriques, while some of the blend is aged in cement tanks in order to obtain the perfect balance of tannin and fruit expression. Black currant, blackberry, rose petals and mint show through on the first sniff, with red cherry and red raspberry on the palate- the wine is full bodied with a sumptuous finish. I give it three bones.
Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino This winery was founded in 1971 by Giovanni Neri and continues to be family run. They use all estate grown fruit from their 1200 acres, and this Brunello comes from a single vineyard. Mostly Sangiovese is planted in Montalcino’s alluvial soils, rich in mineral, iron, and magnesium. The winery itself is mostly underground, built that way for both gravity flow and temperature control. This full bodied, age-worthy wine shows an intense nose of dark berries, leather, graphite and spice with intense flavors of black cherry and tobacco. The wine is perfectly balanced with scents of violet and rose, and layers of cocoa and espresso on the finish- it elegantly pairs with game meats, venison, and even veal dishes and mature cheeses. I give it three bones.
Come visit Italy in the aisles of our store- there are so many varietals and appellations to explore, we’ll help guide you along the way.