Events / 02/07/2017 / 985
Speaking of Italian wines, people in Serbia have quite opposing views, usually speaking in superlatives: they are thought to be either the best or the worst wines ever. I often remember a comment of an acquaintance from the wine world who confessed once that the very mentioning of Italian wine causes facial spasm and excessive salivation because he always expects high acidity in those wines... Italian wines on offer in Serbia are easy to understand. Piedmont and Tuscany hold sovereign rule on a pedestal... Amarone already has an army of admirers ... Prosecco is omnipresent fun and joy in every occasion... Abruzzo is commonly regarded as a domestic region primarily owing to Marina Cvetić... Veneto is the source of plonk in supermarkets that defy all laws of physics with price tags which hardly exceed 1 EUR (including the cost of packaging, labels, closure, transport, export sales margin, etc.). And some Primitivo or Nero d'Avola from the south also appear on wine shelves.
In the local wine circles, there are significantly more experts who excel in Italian wines than in French. Simply, Italy is closer to us geographically. Traditionally, Yugoslavia imported large quantities of Italian wines so the names of regions are already known to local consumers... The selection of Italian wines is more extensive than the French. It is therefore not surprising that during 2016, Italian wineries, supported by their wine associations and chambers of commerce, launched an offensive against Serbia in quest of new markets. Needless to say that Italian wineries receive large subsidies from the EU for promotion and export to markets outside the EU.
Somehow the south of Italy always remained overshadowed by more famous wine regions of Italy. But, it's a fact that winemaking in the south of Italy has been completely transformed over the last 2 decades. Despite long winemaking tradition, local wineries in the south struggled with lack of state-of-the-art technology in the cellar, small plots, grape buying until 1990s. For a long time it was the region for production of cheap plonk in large quantities... But local winemakers have also discovered benefits of fermentation temperature control, so investments in modern equipment followed. Consequently, the quality of wine has improved. This qualitative leap is particularly noticeable if we speak about the white wines of South Italy.
The Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (I.C.E.) organized in Serbia promotion of wines from South Italy. Barbara Tambourini, an oenologist who has become a frequent guest in Belgrade when it comes to promotion of Italian wines, selected the wines and ran the trade tasting. She presented selected wines from Campania, Puglia, Calabria and Sicily.Igor Luković, editor-in-chief of printed magazine Vino & Fino, gave food pairing suggestions.
CAMPANIA is usually associated with Naples. However, in recent years, Campania has become famous for its white wines made from local varieties. It is believed that these grape varieties are descendants of grapevine originally introduced in Italy by the ancient Greeks. This is clearly evidenced by their names. Even Jancis Robinson commended these wines, highlighting their unique character. Potential of this region lies in the estimated 80 or so local varieties that haven't been identified yet but are awaiting genetic mapping. The vineyards in the region cover 29,000 hectares, where 46% account for white wine production, and 54% account for reds.
Feudi Greco di Tufo 2015 - Feudi di San Gregorio
In order to illustrate contemporary trends in Campania winemaking, Barbara selected two wines from Feudi di San Gregorio Winery, which is known as a pioneer of modern winemaking wave with aspirations to bring Campania closer to international wine market whilst still relying on indigenous varieties. Vintage 2015 was generally warm. Spring was chilly followed by somewhat intense period of rain, which resulted in two weeks' delay in bud break and flowering. Summer temperatures remained high, which accelerated ripening, so the harvest started within regular time frame. Generally, white wines of Campania from the year 2015 are characterized by subtler aromas, which is demonstrated by this sample of Greco di Tufo. The nose is dominated by notes of yellow apple, pear, with soft herbal tones and hints of citrus fruit. In the mouth, enchanting minerality leaves long trail of wet stone and salinity, supported by vibrant acidity. Lightweight body and moderate alcohol level push forward this wine's minerality. If you are seeking character of Campania wines, this is definitely a good example.
Serpico Irpinia Aglianico 2004 - Feudi di San Gregorio - Wine made from grapes originating from old vineyards. Although the wine is 12 years old, its freshness is still quite captivating. The nose shows primarily tertiary notes of leather and forest floor, plenty of spicy notes (vanilla, cinnamon), cocoa, plum jam. Acidity still vibrant, ripe silky tannins. In the mouth the wine follows the same profile: lovely complexity, long finish and again notes of plum jam, leather and tobacco accompanied with sweet spices. The wine that highlights all the power of Aglianico. Definitely the winner of this tasting.
CALABRIA is considered one of the poorest regions of Italy. After the Second World War, the region faced massive economic migration of population to the United States and Argentina. The region's economy relies heavily on agriculture, particularly on production of grapes, figs, olives and citrus fruit. The most famous DOC in Calabria is called Cirò. Although Cirò wine is vinified as red, white and rose, the reds made from Galliopo have the best reputation. If we're talking about white wines of Cirò DOC, they are made from Greco Bianco.
Cirò Bianco 2015 - Librandi - This wine is a crowd-pleaser. Distinctly aromatic nose just announces the wine symphony that follows. The nose is dominated by aromas of white flowers, apple, citrus tones. In the mouth, the wine leaves a harmonious impression, distinct minerality and crispiness. The long pleasant finish leaving an elegant almond trail.
Duca Sanfelice 2012 - Librandi - The nose shows predominantly aromas of dried fruit, dried cranberries, blackberries, raspberries and plentiful spicy notes. The presence of brett can also be traced although it doesn't spoil the overall impressionn. In the mouth, the wine retains fruity character of dried fruit, cranberries, blackberries that have already started fading in intensity, which makes brett even more prominent. Elegant, soft wine in the mouth, but the mere presence of brett spoils the whole experience.
PUGLIA is another region in the south of Italy, which in the past 20 years has been witnessing transformation from a region that was the main supplier of uninteresting reds with high alcohol levels primarily used for blending into the region characterized by high quality wines made from local varieties Negroamaro and Primitivo.
Talò Negroamaro Rosato 2013 - Cantine San Marzano - The only rosé wine that we had the opportunity to taste at this presentation. Well-structured rosé. Concentrated, complex, with a long finish. On the nose, exuberant fruity aromas of rose petals, pomegranate, cherry and nutty hints. In the mouth, refreshing persistent acidity leading to a long fruit-forward finish.
Maime Masseria 2010 - Antinori-Tormarescao - Varietal composition: Negroamaro. Aged for 12 months in French and Hungarian oak. The nose is dominated by fruity aromas of red and black forest fruits, leather, forest floor and spicy notes of licorice, cinnamon, sweet spices. The tannins are mature, fully developed, smooth. Wine that would undoubtedly gain great popularity among Serbian wine audience accustomed to this style of wine.
Talò Primitivo di Manduria 2013 - Cantine San Marzano - a concentrated, powerful wine, robust body. On the nose, ripe fruity aromas of black forest fruit, sweet spices, prunes. High alcohol levels. The tannins are plentiful, ripe, smooth. A long, intense finish.
SICILY is the first wine region to the south of Italy which began its transformation even during the 1960s. The unique climate shaped by the immediate vicinity of the Etna volcano and indigenous varieties such as Nerello Mascalese, Grillo or Nero D'Avola given unique character to Sicilian wines.
Sur Sur 2015 - Donnafugata - Varietal composition: 100% Grillo. Wine with unusual name that evokes the sound of crickets. That well-known sound occurring in the summer months ... This wine is not overwhelming complex, but it captivates with its distinct spicy aromas. Moderate acidity paired with citrus flavors, grapefruit, red orange which give impression of freshness. A long, salty, mineral trail leads to an exciting finish.
Santa Cecilia 2010 - Planeta - Varietal composition: Nero D'Avola. The nose is dominated by tertiary and spicy aromas, with lush tones of prunes, cherries, currants. Medium-bodied wine, intense mouthfeel, with plenty of fruitiness, although the wine is 6 years old. The finish is shorter than you'd expect from such a wine.
Ben Rye 2014 - Donnafugata - And then comes the real jewel for the end of wine tasting. Wine made from Malaga (Muscat of Alexandria, Zibibbo). Beautiful amber color in the glass. Intense aromas of dried apricots, dried figs, raisins, honey, acacia flower. Sweetness finely balanced with moderate acidity. A long, impressive finish.
Awarded wine writer, wine critic and contributor to selected wine magazines. WSET3-certified author and editor-in-chief of www.vinopedia.rs. Member of Vojvodina Sommelier Association. Juror in national and international wine competitions. Lecturing about wines of Serbia and the Balkans. Local partner of Wine Mosaic organization. Co-founder of International Prokupac Day.
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