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The Bacchus Report: Wines from the sole of Italy

The arrival of modern technologies has helped make many underrated wines from southern Italy and Sicily very drinkable.


foto: Věroslav Sixt

This long-time poor reputation applied mainly to white wines from the tip and sole of the boot of Italy. As in Sicily, they were too heavy, tired, and without flash. The reds did somewhat better, but even they couldn't compete with wines from Tuscany and the northern regions. As throughout the world of advanced wine-making, here too investments in technologies have helped improve quality. Above all, the method of controlled fermentation at lower temperatures allowed the production of fresh, balanced wines with flash and nuanced flavor and aroma, instead of heavy, oxidized white wines.
Wine-producing southern Italy consists mainly of the areas around the port cities of Bari and Brindisi on the Adriatic coast. The best reds come from the parched Apulia peninsula, the sole of the boot of Italy, south of the road connecting Taranto and Brindisi. Vines were probably planted on the volcanic soil there by ancient Greeks who thus established the basis for Italian wine production. To this day Aglianico, a deviation of the original Ellenico, which means Greek, is grown. It matures very late, so it's grown only in southern Italy. It produces large grapes with dark skins, from which heavy, dark red, full-bodied wine is made. The Uva di Troia varietal has the same origin. It came from Troy in ancient Greece, whose ruins now lie in Turkey. Another widespread varietal is Primitivo, which geneticists discovered to be Zinfandel, widely grown in California.
Of course varietals popular elsewhere are grown in vineyards of this hottest, driest part of Italy, but the domestics still predominate. Besides those already mentioned, these include Gaglioppo, Monica, Nero d'Avola, Negroamaro, along with the classic domestic varietals Catarratto lucido, Fiano, Falanghia, Grillo, Inzolina, and Moscato. Naturally, fashionable Chardonnay and Sauvignon were also brought in. In Sicily, sweet wine lovers can taste the fortified dessert wine Marsala, which is sometimes compared with port.

The author is the editor of Hospodářské noviny's IN magazine.

TOOLBOX

This glass funnel is a useful and at the same time elegant tool for pouring wines into the decanter. CZK 500.

Available at: La Vecchia Bottega






Upcoming tastings

Mělník Castle and the city center, 17-19.09. Mělník Grape Harvest, free admission
Znojmo's historical grape harvest, 17-18.09. The first burčák from this year's harvest. Free admission. Information - tel.: 466 657 585

WINE GUIDE

Rapitala Alcamo
Characteristics: Thanks to modern processing, the white wine made from the old Sicilian varietal Catarratto lucido has become a fresh, elegant, pleasantly aromatic wine.
Price: 221 Kč

Rapitala Nero d'Avola
Characteristics: This wine is made solely from the old Sicilian varietal Nero d'Avola, which gives it a sparkly, ruby color and a bouquet of ripe red fruits.
Price: 221 Kč

Primitivo
Characteristics: A good example of a wine made from a varietal typical of southernmost Italy. Markedly fruity taste of ripe, healthy
grapes.
Price: 178 Kč

Vitae Sangiovese IGT (Indicatione Geografica Tipica)
Characteristics: Chianti lovers can compare what the Sangiovese varietal can produce in the sole of the boot of Italy, on the Publia peninsula. The wine is full-bodied and well structured, with a pleasant persistence.
Price: 155 Kč

These wines are imported by:
RACKE-GIV ČR, Zlatnická 6, Praha 1, tel.: 221 877 241
www.racke.cz, e-mail: racke@racke.cz
© The Prague Tribune, 2004
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