The cherry blossoms are in full bloom - time to celebrate spring with italian white wines
Wine for april – under $20
Talamonti, “Trabocchetto” Pecorino Colline IGT 2013 (about $15)
The wines of the Abruzzo region aren’t particularly well-known in the U.S. While not as flamboyant or famous as the wines from Umbria and Tuscany, Abruzzo’s neighbors to the west, wines from the Abruzzo region can be delicious as well as affordable.
Located in the town of Loretto Aprutino in Abruzzo’s underdeveloped and rugged interior, the Talamonti winery is trying hard to raise the profile of Abruzzo wines. And the folks at Talamonti are doing it the old-fashioned way that is by carefully managing the vineyards and utilizing traditional vinification processes in producing quality wines that appeal to a broad range of consumers and wine enthusiasts.
Established in 2001 by the Di Tonno family, the family-run estate today has about 80 acres of vineyards dedicated to growing classic Abruzzo red and white varieties such as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and Pecorino. The vineyards are set high, almost a thousand feet above sea level, and have good south-eastern exposure.
Pecorino is an interesting indigenous white variety. It grows primarily in the Abruzzo and Marche regions as well as some adjoining regions on Italy’s eastern coastline. Pecorino is a light colored, early ripening variety that has both high acidity and high sugar content. It is also a thin-skinned variety that grows best in cooler, high-altitude vineyards.
The Pecorino grape isn’t related in any way to Pecorino cheese, another local product. The word “Pecorino” means “little sheep” and most likely refers to tales that sheep would often eat the early-ripening Pecorino grapes while moving through the vineyards on their way to summer pastures. The only connection between the wine and the cheese is an indirect one in that the soft textured and mild-flavored variety of Pecorino cheese is a wonderful match for Pecorino wine.
The grape, the wine as well as the cheese all share the Pecorino name.
Talamonti’s 2013 “Trabocchetto” Pecorino is made entirely of Pecorino grapes from the estate’s vineyards. It has a pale-lemony color with elegant floral aromas intermingled with hints of citrusy lemon peel. It is medium-bodied with prominent acidity and green apple and ripe Bartlett pear flavors. It is an attractive and relatively inexpensive white wine perfect for springtime festivities.
The flavors aren’t aggressive as much as elegant, clean and refreshing. This Pecorino wine is splendid as an aperitivo or anytime soft, sheep’s-milk cheeses are on hand. It also is the perfect wine to have in stock for those early-spring festivities featuring light pasta, seafood, vegetable tempura or poultry dishes.
It is a splendid, bargain-priced white wine that offers great value.
Giacomo Fenocchio, Roero Arneis DOCG 2013 (about $23)
Long used as a blending wine to soften some of the Piedmont region’s robust red wines, the Arneis grape has over the past several decades evolved into a variety of some prominence on its own. It has become one of the Piedmont’s most highly-regarded varietal white wines and while it has not yet achieved celebrity status, its popularity is starting to gain traction throughout Italy as well as major export markets.
The variety’s ancestral home is in the Roero hills north of the city of Alba across the Tanaro River. The classic Arneis grape has naturally low acidity and a tendency to ripen quickly. Consequently, it doesn’t require a lot of sunshine even in its northern Italy habitat and is typically harvested early so it doesn’t become over-ripe.
Arneis has the potential to produce highly aromatic wines with scents of apricots, peaches and almonds. Arneis wines are typically medium-to-full bodied, structured and complex. As such they offer a more characterful alternative to some of the lighter-bodied, more acidic wines from northern Italy, such as Pinot Grigio.
The Giacomo Fenocchio estate is located in Montforte d’Alba, in the heart of the Piedmont’s prized Nebbiolo region. Founded in the mid-1800’s, the estate today is managed by the fifth generation of the Fenocchio family. In addition to Arneis, the winery produces the traditional red wines of the region - Barolo, Langhe, Dolcetto and Barbera. The estate has approximately 30 acres of vineyards and exports about 80 percent of its production.
This wine is made entirely of Arneis grapes harvested from a small, 3 acre estate vineyard of 10 to 15-year-old vines. Hand-selected in mid-September, the grapes are gently pressed and the juice is fermented on the grape skins in stainless steel vats for 24 to 36 hours after which the juice is separated from the grape skins. The wine is then aged for a few months in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks so as to maintain the grapes’ fragrance. It also sees some bottle-ageing prior to release for sale.
Straw-yellow in color, Fenocchio’s 2013 Arneis has soft and complex white-fruit and floral aromas with an appealing scent of almonds. It is chock-full of green apple and pear flavors. The wine is dry, medium-to-full-bodied with a silky texture and discreet acidity. It is very nicely balanced with a moderately-lengthy finish.
The wine is best served chilled. It is great as an aperitivo but also goes well with light appetizers; pastas seasoned with herbs; grilled and roasted fish of all types; and simply prepared veal pork and chicken dishes.
April 8, 2015
To view other wine of the month selections, see Monthly Wine Reviews
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