Grape juice wine column:
VAIL CO, Colorado
Pizza, pasta, the rolling hills of Tuscany and the beautiful cities of Florence, Rome and Napoli come to mind when talking about Southern Italy. Dreams, memories and travels plans are going through your head right now.
If you feel like tasting southern Italy, but can’t hop a flight at a moments notice, join me at Matsuhisa Vail during the next two weeks. Falanghina, Nerello and Verdicchio di Jesi are just a few of the wines from that area that will take center stage on Matsuhisa’s wines by the glass selections during these next two weeks.
As always, I picked out wines that hopefully you haven’t tried before, from areas that are somewhat unfamiliar.
The wines from Tuscany, like Brunello and Chianti, are widely known, so we’ll start this rotation with the wines from the Marche. Located along the Adriatic Sea and to the east of famous Tuscany, this region seems to be on the radar of many wine buyers these days. The Marche is mostly known for its rugged terrain, beautiful coastline, great seafood and agriculture. Wines that contain high acidity and a lighter body pair nicely with the seafood that is plentiful in the area. Verdicchio is the most important grape of the Marche region. The wine offers aromas of citrus and apricot with nuances of fresh flowers. It has a pronounced minerality and is moderately rich. Tasting it together with our fish dishes is a delight.
Furthermore we are travelling south to the adjacent area of Abruzzo. A region mostly known as Europe’s “green heart” since two-thirds of it serves as a nature conservation area. We will taste a rose wine from the Montepulciano grape, which shows great earth tones that have gone missing in most rose wines these days.
Life is simple throughout southern Italy and so are the wines, for the most part. I mean that in a good way – simple wines go well with simple cuisine and that’s what they are made for. The vintners of southern Italy aren’t necessarily trying to win a Wine Spectator Award. Instead they are producing a good wine for everyday drinking.
The same goes for the area of Campania, further south. Built around the famous city of Naples, this region lies along the Mediterranean Sea. The first wine, a Falanghina, comes from the area around the famous Mount Vesuvius. This is an ancient grape that I’ve only ever seen cultivated in Campania. It creates a wonderful medium-bodied white, with floras aromas that invite a pairing with sea bass and cod fish. The reds from this area are stunning and great values. As for the red, we’ll be serving an Aglianico, which is called the noble grape of Italy’s south and earned its reputation rightfully so. The resulting wines are reminiscent of Barolo or Sangiovese, the two most important grapes in Italy.
We are closing the selections out with the “pretty” wine of the week. I call it pretty because it reminds me of a light red Burgundy from a very warm vintage. The wine is charming, elegant and offers a great balance of fruit and earth tones. Nerello Mascalese is the grapes name and it is planted on Sicliy’s Mount Etna. The wines will be available from Aug. 11- 24. Come on in and start planning your next Italian adventure.
Andreas Harl is the beverage director at Matsuhisa in Vail. Email comments about this column to firstname.lastname@example.org.