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Two Women on Wine: La dolce vita -- alternate Italian

Why not try some new varieties of Italian wine?

Posted: October 22, 2009 4:02 p.m.
Updated: October 23, 2009 6:05 a.m.

Lil Lepore and Shari Frazier Two women on Wine

 
Italy! On our trip to Rome and Tuscany last summer, we were reminded how much we love Italian wines. After spending a few days in Rome visiting the usual sights, we looked forward to our train ride to Tuscany and our journey through the hill towns and wine regions.

Tuscany is located in the central part of Italy on the West Coast, close to Florence and Pisa. The summers tend to be hot and dry.
When many of us think of Italian wines, Pinot Grigio, Chianti, Sangiovese, Brunello, Barolo come to mind. Yet there are so many other great varietals that we would like to introduce you to.

Do you drink Pinot Grigio? We recommend trying Vernaccia di San Gimignano, one of Tuscany's oldest and noblest wines. This white wine is crisp and refreshing on hot summer days, and is only grown in Tuscany. You will enjoy this wine as we loved the town of San Gimignano.

If Sangiovese is your preferred wine, then we recommend trying a Vino Nobile from Montepulcino, another noble grape of Tuscany since the 16th century. This red wine tends to be tannic with tart cherry, spicy and earthy flavors, and primilary made from the Sangeovise grape. While visiting Montepulcino we enjoyed Vino Nobile at Contucci Cantina and met the owner Adamo, who has been making wine since 1958. After tasting wine with Adamo, we toured wine cellars dating back to the 13th century.

We cannot mention Tuscany without talking about Super Tuscan wines. Super Tuscans are made from Sangiovese grapes, usually blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Another wine region we love is Piedmont located in northwest Italy, which borders France. Some of world's greatest wines are made in Piedmont. Surrounded by mountains, this area has warm summers, mild winters, and fog is common.

The powerhouse red of Piedmont is Barolo, made from the Nebbiolo grape. Barolo is a full-bodied, dry and tannic wine. Flavors of plums, strawberries, and licorice abound.

If you want to try a wine that is softer, we recommend a favorite of ours: Dolcetto. Dolcetto is often a light bodied red wine, usually deep in color with flavors of fruit and spice.

Barbera is the most widely grown grape in Piedmont, grown mostly around the towns of Asti, Alba, and Pavia. This wine has bright cherry fruit, soft tannins, and is very food-friendly. Barbera is very similar in flavor and structure to Cabernet Sauvignon, but with softer tannins.

For something sweeter and refreshing try Brachetto d' Acqui. This is a red sparkling wine, with lots of strawberry flavors. Serve chilled as an aperitif or enjoy after dinner.

Whether visiting Tuscany or simply enjoying Italian wines, it brings to mind the sweet life....La Dolce Vita. Salute!

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