On our trip to Italy last month, principally in the Southern half including Sicily, at the towns we stayed we tried to drink the local regional wines whenever we could. It should be said that in many cases we had no idea what the grape variety or wine style was, nor could we always find a person to further enlighten us.
And did that really matter – not a bit! We don’t remember having a wine that we thought was poor or not enjoyable. Even the jugs of house wine at restaurants in small towns were very drinkable, and very good value.
One of our group at one meal thought that some variety was needed, and ordered a foreign cab sauv. Against the local wines, and food, it was completely out of step and not enjoyed by anyone.
It was interesting to note how many of the vinyards have been replanted or rejuvinated, and are close planted and trellised for maximum fruit ripeness. This was really evident as we spent some time driving through the grape growing areas of Sicily. Where in the old days vines would share the paddock with almond and olive trees, there are now massive plantings of well manicured, close grown vines that must have a great deal to do with why the local wines tasted so good.The grape varieties seem too many and varied to remember if we don’t write them down (in Australia we only have to know 4 or 5 red and white grapes), but once you get over that frustration it doesn’t really matter much. The important thing is to find a local with the knowledge to point you to the best local vino in the place where you happen to be that night. Mostly that wine will be significantly cheaper than wines listed from other areas or Countries. My advice is to take that advice. It has 3 advantages.
> The price is usually lower
> The wine nearly always goes well with what you are about to eat
> The locals are more friendly and impressed because you are specifically requesting their local wines.
These are some inital observations from a not very frequent traveller to Italy, one however that is much looking forward to returning to further the love affair.
Any thoughts from Italian wine travellers would be much appreciated.
Notes on wines tasted will follow in further blogs.