After a long, hard bike ride, there’s nothing like rewarding yourself with a refreshing beer or ice cream. But wouldn’t it be even better if someone else were paying?According to the BBC, the Northern Italian city of Bologna will give you free beer, ice cream, or movie tickets as a reward for using sustainable forms of transport.
The perks come as part of a program called Bella Mossa (“Good Job”), initiated by Urban Planner Marco Amadori. The program utilizes the Better Points app, where users are rewarded with points each time they make a journey by bike, public transport, or by foot. They can then exchange their points for a freebie of their choice at participating local businesses.
Points are rewarded on a per journey basis, rather than for distance covered. The app uses GPS tracking to make sure people aren’t cheating, and there’s a four journey daily limit to encourage users to keep using the app over time. Around eight journeys are required to claim something like an ice cream, the BBC says.
Bella Mossa runs from April through September, so you’ll need to wait until next year if you want to rack up points during a Bologna vacation. With free beer and cycling, we can’t think of a better a summer getaway.
Σύμφωνα με το μύθο, ήταν ο Διόνυσος που έκανε γνωστό το κρασί στη Σικελία.
Εκτός από τον μύθο, το σίγουρο είναι ότι στη Σικελία κάνουν κρασί εδώ και χιλιετίες. Υπάρχουν αποδείξεις ότι Μυκηναίοι έμποροι καλλιεργούσαν σταφύλια στα Αιολικά νησιά ήδη από το 1.500 π.Χ. και όταν οι Έλληνες αποφάσισαν να εγκατασταθούν στη Σικελία τον 8ο αιώνα π.Χ. εισήγαγαν διάφορες ποικιλίες αμπέλων.
Η επόμενη σημαντική ημερομηνία στην ιστορία της Σικελίας είναι το 1773, όταν ο John Woodhouse άρχισε να παράγει αυτό που προοριζόταν να γίνει ένα από τα καλύτερα αγαπημένα προϊόντα του νησιού: την Marsala.
Ο Woodhouse κατάλαβε αμέσως ότι αυτό το αξιοπρεπές τοπικό κρασί θα μπορούσε να μεταμορφωθεί, χρησιμοποιώντας τεχνικές perpetuum (παρόμοια με το σύστημα solera που χρησιμοποιείται για να κάνει το sherry), το οποίο, με την προσθήκη αλκοόλ, όχι μόνο θα ενισχύσει το κρασί αλλά θα το βοηθήσει να επιβιώσει από το θαλάσσιο ταξίδι πίσω στην Αγγλία. Ήταν μια άμεση επιτυχία με τους Βρετανούς, και άλλους επιχειρηματίες, όπως οι Ingham και Whitaker που σύντομα βιάστηκαν να εκμεταλλευτούν τη δημοτικότητα του κρασιού.
Προς τα τέλη του 19ου αιώνα, η αγγλική κυριαρχία στην κατασκευή της Marsala τερματίστηκε με την άφιξη του Vincenzo Florio, ενός από τους πρώτους μεγιστάνες της Ιταλίας, ο οποίος αγόρασε μεγάλο μέρος της γης γύρω από τη Marsala. Η Cantine Florio, αν και σε διαφορετικά χέρια σήμερα, παραμένει ένας από τους καλύτερους παραγωγούς Marsala και συνιστάται η επίσκεψη στο γεμάτο βαρέλια οινοποιείο τους.
Για το μεγαλύτερο μέρος του 20ου αιώνα, η Σικελία συνέχισε να παράγει τεράστιες ποσότητες σταφυλιών, οι περισσότερες όμως από τις οποίες εξήχθησαν για να προστεθούν σε κρασί που παρασκευάζονταν σε άλλες περιοχές της Ιταλίας.
Τα τελευταία 20 χρόνια έχουν γίνει τεράστιες αλλαγές στην κουλτούρα του κρασιού του νησιού και, όπως επιβεβαιώνουν τα πολλά διεθνή βραβεία που κέρδισαν οι παραγωγοί της Σικελίας, μερικά από τα καλύτερα κρασιά της Ιταλίας γίνονται τώρα στη Σικελία. Μια νέα γενιά παραγωγών της Σικελίας αντιλαμβάνεται το πλήρες δυναμικό του ζηλευτού κλίματος του νησιού, τις αυτόχθονες ποικιλίες σταφυλιών και το εύφορο έδαφος.
Η Σικελία είναι ένας παράδεισος για wine-lovers, όπως είναι η ποικιλία, η πολυπλοκότητα και η αφθονία του μοναδικού δώρου του Βάκχου!
Με εξαίρεση το επιβλητικό ηφαίστειο, την Αίτνα (3.350 μέτρα), η οροσειρά Madonie περιλαμβάνει την υψηλότερη κορυφή του νησιού: Pizzo Carbonara (1.979 μέτρα).
Οι κύριοι ποταμοί του νησιού είναι οι Salso (ή Imera Meridionale) και Platani, αλλά πρέπει να σημειωθεί ότι το καλοκαίρι αυτά τα ποτάμια έχουν εξαιρετικά χαμηλά επίπεδα νερού. Η Σικελία απολαμβάνει ένα μεσογειακό κλίμα, με ζεστά καλοκαίρια, ήπιους και βροχερούς χειμώνες και πολύ μεταβαλλόμενες εποχές στο ενδιάμεσο. Στην ακτή, ειδικά στη νοτιοδυτική πλευρά, το κλίμα πλήττεται έντονα από τα αφρικανικά ρεύματα, με αποτέλεσμα θερμά καλοκαίρια.
Η γη στην οποία καλλιεργούνται τα αμπέλια είναι ποικίλης μορφολογίας και σύνθεσης, αποτέλεσμα σύνθετων γεωλογικών και τεκτονικών γεγονότων που οδήγησαν στη δημιουργία μιας ιδιαίτερα περίπλοκης δομής.
Το έδαφος από το μετα-ορογενές συγκρότημα βρίσκεται ευρέως στις κεντρικές και νότιες περιοχές του νησιού και κατά μήκος των παράκτιων περιοχών.
Όσον αφορά τα λιθολογικά χαρακτηριστικά, το έδαφος ιζηματικής προέλευσης εμφανίζεται σε μεγάλο μέρος της Σικελίας. Όσον αφορά το έδαφος, η κατάσταση είναι πολύ περίπλοκη.
Υπάρχουν 23 ζώνες με προστατευόμενη ονομασία προέλευσης στη Σικελία:
Alcamo, Contea di Sclafani, Contessa Entellina, Delia Nivolelli, Eloro, Erice, Etna, Faro, Malvasia delle Lipari, Mamertino di Milazzo, Marsala, Menfi, Monreale, Moscato di Noto, Moscato di Pantelleria, Riesi, Salaparuta, Sambuca di Sicilia, Santa Margherita di Belice, Sciacca και Vittoria
και ένα κρασί DOCG το Cerasuolo di Vittoria
Πολλοί τύποι σταφυλιών καλλιεργούνται και χρησιμοποιούνται είτε για «purezza» (μονοποικιλιακά κρασιά) ή για blend. Ορισμένοι καλλιεργούνται εδώ και αιώνες, άλλοι είναι πιο πρόσφατες εισαγωγές. Οι κυριότερες ποικιλίες είναι οι εξής:
Ερυθρές ποικιλίες: Nero D’Avola, Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Mantellato, Perricone, Frappato, Calabrese και τα πιο πρόσφατα εισαγόμενα Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc και Shiraz (Syrah).
Λευκές ποικιλίες: Cataratto, Grecanico, Grillo, Inzolia, Zibibbo, Damaschino, Trebbiano, Ausonica, Moscato Bianco, Carricante, Corinto Nero και τα πιο πρόσφατα εισαγόμενα Chardonnay, Viognier και Fiano.
Τα ερυθρά κρασιά της Σικελίας περιλαμβάνουν …
Nero D’Avola: Το Nero D’Avola είναι ένα από τα παλαιότερα γηγενή σταφύλια και οι οινοπαραγωγοί της Σικελίας δικαιολογημένα υπερηφανεύονται για την αναγνώριση που απολαμβάνει η ποικιλία αυτή.
Syrah: Όποιος είναι εξοικειωμένος με τα κρασιά του νότιου ημισφαιρίου (ή μάλιστα με γαλλικά κρασιά) θα έχει δοκιμάσει πολλά Syrah και το κλίμα και το έδαφος της Σικελίας είναι ιδιαίτερα κατάλληλα για αυτό το νόστιμο σταφύλι.
Etna Rosso: μείγμα Nerello Mascalese (95%) και Nerello Mantellato (5%) είναι το κρασί που γεννιέται στις πλούσιες, γόνιμες ηφαιστειακές πλαγιές της Αίτνας.
Cerasuolo di Vittoria: ένα μείγμα Frappato (min 40%) και Nero d’Avola (μέγιστο 60%) με την πιθανή προσθήκη κάποιου Grossonero ή Nerello Mascalese, αυτό είναι το πιο διάσημο κρασί της επαρχίας Ragusa.
Τα λευκά κρασιά της Σικελίας περιλαμβάνουν …
Το Bianco D’Alcamo: ένα μίγμα Cataratto (min 80%), το Grecanico, το Damaschino και το Trebbiano. Το εξαιρετικό αυτό λευκό μπορεί να βρεθεί σε όλη τη Σικελία, αλλά μπορεί να παραχθεί μόνο στην πλούσια περιοχή μεταξύ Alcamo και Trapani.
Οι οίνοι από Grillo, Inzolia, Cataratto, Grecanico και Chardonnay παράγονται «purezza» ή αναμειγνύονται από όλους τους μεγάλους παραγωγούς κρασιού, ενώ μερικοί είναι πραγματικά εξαιρετικοί.
Σικελικά επιδόρπια ή απεριτίφ κρασιά
Η περιεκτικότητα σε ζάχαρη στα σταφύλια και οι ιδιότητες ξήρανσης του ήλιου σημαίνουν ότι η Σικελία προσφέρεται για την παραγωγή επιδορπίων κρασιών. Τα πιο γνωστά από αυτά είναι:
Marsala: το διάσημο εμπλουτισμένο κρασί που παρήχθη για πρώτη φορά από τον Άγγλο John Woodhouse το 1773 είναι ένα μίγμα Grillo, Cataratto, Ansonia και Damaschino με την προσθήκη αλκοόλης. Αν και έχει φήμη ως γλυκό κρασί, υπάρχουν και ορισμένες εξαιρετικές ξηρές εκδοχές. Δοκιμάστε παγωμένο Marsala vergine ή οποιοδήποτε vergine από τους μεγάλους παραγωγούς.
Passito di Pantelleria: παρασκευάζεται από σταφύλια Zibbibo που έχουν αποξηρανθεί στον ήλιο για να αυξηθεί η συγκέντρωση ζάχαρης. Καθαρό νέκταρ από το νότιο παράκτιο νησί της Σικελίας, Pantelleria!
Malvasia delle Lipari: ένα μείγμα Malvasia (95%) και Corinto Nero (5%), που παρήχθη για πρώτη φορά στη Μονεμβασιά. Αναφέρεται ως Malmsey στο έργο του Σαίξπηρ «Lost Labors Lost». Όπως λέει η ιστορία ο Τζωρτζ, ο δούκας του Clarence (αδελφός του βασιλιά Έντουαρντ IV της Αγγλίας) εκτελέστηκε ενδεχομένως με πνιγμό σε μια δεξαμενή τέτοιου κρασιού. Το Malmsey ήταν επίσης γνωστό στους ναυτικούς του Nelson (οι οποίοι δήθεν έπιναν πολλά από αυτά).
Passito di Noto: Σταφύλια Passito Bianco 100% για αρμονικό γλυκό κρασί.
Touring by bicycle is an ideal way to explore Chianti country. Gregor Brown of Cycling Weekly recommends an itinerary – and the best places to stop off for authentic food and wine
In partnership with The Platinum Card® from American Express®.
Credit: Jesse Wild / Alamy
Cypress trees lining rolling hills, fresh pasta served with ragu di cinghiale (wild boar stew) and deep red wines flowing – what’s not to love about a cycling tour through Tuscany? Italy, and more precisely Tuscany, is like a trip to Mecca for the cycling, food and wine faithful. Nowhere else can you find such a mix of history, food and – what everyone needs on a holiday – a take-it-easy attitude.
A bicycle tour provides the best way to connect the dots because those two wheels changed the country. They helped locals to build a nation in the Industrial era. Once known only locally, Sangiovese wines spread throughout Italy with the help of the bicycle, then on to Europe and eventually the world.
On the bike, you can stop and put your foot down to smell the warm Tyrrhenian breeze blowing over rows of vines or spot a local to ask: ‘Dov’è un buon trattoria qua vicino?’ (‘Where is there a good restaurant nearby?’)
Florence, known as the cradle of the Renaissance, offers a good base with its endless museums and monuments to visit. Florence by Bike rents bicycles for those who need them and if you want a guide, contact Riding with Cosimo.
The truly cycle-minded must visit Filofficina and its Eroica vintage bikes on the south side of town. Stay there for the day, finding a local bar to tuck into Brunello and porchetta cold cuts.
One popular restaurant in this artisan Oltrarno zone is Il Santo Bevitore where, judging by the ‘holy drinker’ name, wine-lovers are served well. Book one or two days ahead to ensure you have a spot. If ribollita – a Tuscan vegetable and bread soup – is not your thing then consider any dish with a lampredotto (tripe) sauce, for those who like adventure, or the famous bistecca Fiorentina (a healthy loin steak, served rare to medium-rare).
The rolling hills south of Florence towards Siena flow like a sea of green and golden waves. A challenging hill rewards you with a breathtaking view and descent to another wine valley.
Ride south through Impruneta. Depending on your abilities, you could either go up through La Panca to Passo de Sugame then down to Greve or through Chiocchio to Greve. In Panzano, you’ll be rewarded with a couple of great restaurants. If you haven’t indulged in a Fiorentina steak yet, now is your chance at the Officina Della Bistecca. To start, share a carpaccio di culo and a bottle of Il Molino di Grace Chianti Classico.
Back-track down the road to Lamole and turn up to Vignamaggio to stay for the night or if the steak gave you extra strength, push on to Radda. From Radda, you can decide to make it a two- or three-day tour. Given the extra day, you can ride a loop around the Radda countryside. Cycle out towards Badia a Coltibuono, turning first to descend then climb to Castello di Brolio. A tour of the castle’s gardens is a must with its wine tasting included.
Ride on to Carlino d’Oro (+39 0577 747 136), a simple and honest Tuscan trattoria with views of the rolling countryside. Pair a plate of tagliatelle and ragu with Brolio wine. Dessert? The spectacular road down through San Regalo towards Pianella. At the main road, turn right and climb back through Gaiole to reach Radda.
Villa Campomaggio Resort & Spa in Radda offers a perfect base for your trip. Its bar serves the best wines from the Val d’Arbia and Val di Pesa to accompany a light dinner.
Travel north on the third day via Castellina and the hilltop town of San Donato in Poggio. Just before San Donato, you can stop at one of the many wineries that offer tastings and have restaurants. Try Casa Emma, which is surrounded by Sangiovese and Merlot vines. Then continue through to San Casciano to reach Florence. Once there take a seat outside a bar and reflect on the day. Perhaps ask the owner for a dinner recommendation; chances are there is an authentic trattoria nearby.
Gregor Brown is based in Florence, writes for Cycling Weekly and covers major cycling races including the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France
We all know that Italian cheese is delicious, but when pressed to name many beyond Parm or Pecorino, most of us draw a blank. Burrata? Truffle . . . uh . . . something?
The good news is that Italy has a wide world of cheeses for exploring and enjoying. Here are six lesser-known favorites sure to impress your guests, no matter their level of formaggio expertise.
Oozy, fluffy, and creamy, La Tur is a decadent combination of textures and flavors. Hailing from Piedmont, La Tur is made with cow, sheep, and goat’s milk and comes in a whimsical little cupcake wrapper. Not many cheeses manage to be delicate, barnyardy, and buttery all at once, but La Tur somehow does. Weighing in at 8 ounces for a whole wheel, it’s the perfect size for one person or maybe two, and is totally dreamy, whether you choose to share it or keep it for yourself (we won’t tell!).
Bettelmatt has been known and loved since as early as the 13th century, when it was used to pay rent or taxes. Now, it’s made by only eight producers in the Italian Ossola mountains, and only from May to September, when the cows can graze on the lush mountain pastures. It’s said that cheese made in these mountains has an impossible-to-replicate flavor due to a wild mountain herb called mottolina that is unique to the region. Tricky to find, but not at all tricky to enjoy, Bettelmatt has flavor notes of alpine meadows, cashew butter, and egg custard. With only about 3,000 wheels made a year, savor it if you can get it!
Despite its German-sounding name, Weinkase Lagrein hails from South Tyrol, Italy, near the Austrian border. This semi-soft cheese is soaked in Lagrein wine with herbs, garlic, and pepper for five days, resulting in a cheese that delightfully tastes a whole lot like salami. (This is an especially fun one to share with your vegetarian friends, though omnivores will appreciate it as well.) Make sure to eat the rind, which has the strongest concentration of salami-like flavor.
Hailing from the island of Sardinia, where there are supposedly more sheep than people, Capra Sarda is a semi-hard pecorino-style cheese, but made with goat’s milk. It’s salty, snackable, and mineral-driven, with notes of caramel. It’s equally delightful on a cheese board as it is grated over pasta or salad.
Castelrosso is a weirdo, but a loveable one. Imagine that you made a big wheel of cow’s milk feta and grew a rind on it, which slowly ripened the feta, creating different flavors and textures throughout the wheel. That’s basically Castelrosso, hailing from Piedmont. Its middle crumbles like your favorite feta, but with more mushroomy, grassy flavors. The ripest part of the cheese, a quarter-inch layer between the rind and middle called the creamline, has a pudgier texture and earthier flavors.
Okay, okay, we know you know Parm, but hear us out — this is Parm unlike any you’ve tasted before. It’s still the much-loved Parmigiano Reggiano, but made with only the milk of Swiss Brown cows (hence the “Solo di Bruna”), which is how Parm was made in the Middle Ages. This breed of cow has a higher casein (milk protein) content in its milk, which leads to a creamier, toastier cheese and flavors reminiscent of toffee and hazelnuts. Where there are several hundred producers of our dear Parmigiano Reggiano, there are only four Solo di Bruna producers. A wonderfully snackable, elegant treasure.
With estimates of between 500 and 600 grape varieties grown in Italy, it’s tricky to distill this iconic wine-soaked peninsula into basic baby sips.
If you start at the Italian boot and drill down, you’ll find a land of incredible wine growing diversity.
From the Alps in the north to the Apennine mountain range, functioning as Italy’s backbone running north to south, and the Mediterranean Sea cheerfully surrounding the country with its buffering influence on weather patterns, Italy is a grape grower’s dream.
Best Italian Red Wines for Beginners
Italy’s best red wines for beginners tend to share three common characteristics:
they are bold in flavor intensity
they lean heavily into familiar fruit flavors and aromas
they can typically be found for under $20 a bottle
We’ve rounded up a short starter guide of Italian wines you must try – top to bottom, and east to west.
If Italy is the boot, Sicily is the soccer ball about to be launched. Sitting on the tip of Italy’s toe, Sicily is the largest of the Mediterranean islands. As Sicily’s rockstar red grape, Nero d’Avola’s fruity nature brings plenty of bright red cherry, tart blackberry, and peppery spice to the glass.
A heady combination of fruit meets structure, showing zippy acidity and moderate alcohol levels. Nero d’Avola promises to mellow out with a bit of time in the glass (or decanter) and partner up incredibly well with juicy bison burgers, Mom’s lasagna, or your local meat lover’s pizza. Easy to drink, and even easier on the wallet – expect to shell out $10-20 for a bottle of snappy Sicilian adventure.
Montepulciano reigns as the second most planted grape in Italy (after Chianti’s Sangiovese). In terms of label lingo, typically the wines based on the Montepulciano grape tag the regional name on the end of the grape (i.e. “Montepulciano d’Abruzzo” – is literally the Montepulciano grape from the region of Abruzzo).
Smooth, silky textures surround dense layers of black fruit flavor. Expect this wine to run completely dry with a medium- to full-bodied profile and plenty of palate pep to handle grilled game, Italy’s best salumi, regional pastas with tomato sauce, and local cheese finds. You can enter the Montepulciano scene with as little as $8. That said, we recommend turning it up a quality notch for around $20 bottle – promising more body, complexity, and more overall balance.
Negroamaro is grown in the hotter climes of Puglia, on the heel of Italy’s proverbial boot. A tannic beast, Negroamaro can come off as rich or rustic, smooth or sassy, depending on the vintage, proximity to the Ionian Sea’s cooling effects and, in all honesty, the winemaker’s prowess.
Often blended with Primitivo to tone down the tannins and amp up the sweet red fruit factor, Negroamaro promises to play well with all sorts of zesty barbecue digs: pulled pork, sweet chicken, tangy Texas ribs, and more.
Primitivo (aka Zinfandel) is also grown in Puglia often as a complementary blending force to tame the tightly wound tannins of Negroamaro.
However, Primitivo is one of Italy’s lush and plush red wine divas sought as a solo bottling for its generous fruit and sultry spice along with elevated alcohol, and the instantly approachable tandem of low acidity and modest tannins give it a bold, but smooth mouthfeel.
A natural with cured meat, tangy grilled veggies, brats or burgers, Primitivo is a flavor force to be reckoned with. Expect to part with 15-25 bucks for a full-throttle bottle of Puglia Primitivo.
Playing to the sweet-tooth, Brachetto is Piedmont’s light-bodied, sweet, and fizzy semi-sparkling dessert wine. Brachetto grown anywhere in Piedmont is labeled simply as “Brachetto” on the bottle, while Brachetto d’Acqui, a classified DOCG, carries the classic Old World naming protocol: “Brachetto” is the grape and “Acqui” is the hilly growing district in southern Piedmont.
This particular style of bubbly begs for dessert partnerships, with all things chocolate high on the love list (it’s one of the few chocolate and red wine pairings sommeliers recommend). Flavors include red fruits, candied flowers, and cream. Expect to pay close to $20 for Brachetto – after all, fun and festive comes at a price.
Affordable Example: Fizz 56 Sparkling Red Brachetto
Cleverly translated as “little sweet one,” though don’t expect gobs of sweetness to welcome your taste buds. Dolcetto is usually dry, with blueberry and cherry fruit-driven notes.
This is an easy sipper, happily ready to roll right out of the bottle, and shows soft fruit character with a little less zippy acidity upfront. Not overly picky, when it comes to food pairing, Dolcetto is a flexible friend to antipasto plates, cured Italian meats, and plenty of red-sauced pasta themes.
Barbera is Piedmont’s everyday wine that’s perfectly poised to rock the red fruit flavors sans the mouth-drying tannins. While the ruby red color pigments are dark and dense, the actual palate profile is light and bright with the consistent lively background zing of food-friendly acidity. Barbera comes loaded with ripe cherry, blackberry, and earthy herbal tones to dominate the nose and ready to rumble on the palate as well.
Given the silky textures, soaring acids, and laid-back tannins, consider partnering Barbera up with sausage risotto, prosciutto and smoked cheese, beef stew, and the classic Napolitano pizza. No need to pay a lot to snag a tasty bottle of Barbera – many run under $15. You’re welcome.
Affordable Example: Castelvero Barbera (Piedmont)
Get the Book
Hands down, this is the best beginner book about wine. International bestseller. By the creators of Wine Folly’s award-winning site.
Rosé is arguably the wine industry’s biggest success story of the 21st century. Winemakers worldwide are producing more pink juice than ever before, and those of us in the U.S. have more to choose from than any other time in our history.
As with any other product category, from brick oven pizza to alternative rock, success inspires imitation. To the chagrin of those of us who love wine, there’s been a rush to market by an endless line of mediocre imitators looking to profit off the pale-pink, bone-dry Provencal style.
More optimistically, however, this trend has also led a number of winemaking regions to increase their focus on rosé. For consumers, looking beyond the obvious Provencal producers can pay dividends.
This is especially evident in Italy’s Bardolino region, near Lake Garda’s eastern shores. Bardolino’s pink wine, Chiaretto (pronounced key-a-ret-toh), is largely unknown in the U.S. but perfectly suited to our palates.
These wines are about as pale as rosé gets — chiaro is the Italian word for clear — and feature intensely floral aromas with citrus notes, followed by a steely, fiercely acidic palate. Each bottle has a salty, savory quality evocative of the lake shore. Applying the term “minerality” has become a wine writer cliché, but Chiaretto earns this descriptor — as does Bardolino Rosso, the region’s red wine.
The recent rise of Chiaretto can be attributed to the tireless work of Angelo Peretti, director of the Bardolino wine consortium. Peretti, along with a group of producers following his vision, is creating what is now known locally as “the rosé revolution.”
Chiaretto production in Bardolino dates back to the late 1800s, but it was traditionally seen as a cheap, simple, summertime beverage. “For a long time Chiaretto was dark in color and could not age at all,” Peretti says. “Winemakers didn’t respect the native grapes. By August or September it would collapse, become oxidized.”
In 2008, Peretti starting thinking about Corvina. Famously part of Italy’s legendary Amarone della Valpolicella wines, the grape also happens to be Bardolino’s main variety.
“I thought the right way to produce rosé at Lake Garda was to respect the territory, including the saltiness of the regional soils, as well as the native grape and its naturally lighter color,” he says.
Peretti began teaching local producers French rosé techniques, such as using soft pressure on the grapes, keeping very low temperatures during harvest — which requires picking early in the morning — and fermentation that preserves Corvina’s light color and citrusy flavors.
In 2014, the revolution had a breakthrough. “We had a dramatic vintage that year,” Peretti says. “It was very rainy, and everybody thought it would be impossible to make good wine. So I asked the producers to try the methods we’d been talking about, because they had nothing to lose. And it was a big success. They learned not only that they could do it this way, but that it was easy, and that the market response was great.”
“Italy has a long history in the production of rosé,” Angelo Peretti, director of the Bardolino wine consortium, says.
Now, Peretti aims to make Bardolino’s rosé revolution permanent. He is encouraging producers to embrace a philosophical and cultural shift. Gone are the days when rosé was just a byproduct of more important reds.
“Rosé is not a method,” Peretti says. “To make great rosé, we need to respect the terroir, the identity and characteristics of each area.” This includes selecting specific sites and training the vines differently from those intended for red production.
“For Chiaretto, we want citrus notes, but for Bardolino [rosso] we prefer that ripe cherry fruit,” Peretti says. “Chiaretto grapes must be harvested earlier to maintain freshness, and we must grow the vines to achieve the correct phenolic ripeness and to avoid green notes. We have to split our vineyards between rosé and red wine, in order to produce the best quality in both.”
This is particularly challenging in Italy, where rosé is less popular than in France and the U.S. Italy is the world’s second-largest exporter of pink wine, but Italians rank sixth in rosé consumption. Category growth has remained elusive. Much of what Italians do consume falls in the cheap, bulk category made for mindless summertime quaffing.
Historically, demand for Chiaretto’s previous iteration (short shelf life, dark color) came only from northern Italy and southern Germany. But increased quality and marketing, especially via social media, is beginning to open markets like the U.S., Canada, and Scandinavia. It’s even growing in France, which Peretti compares to selling ice cream at the North Pole.
Though he’s not eager to over-expand, Peretti sees continued opportunity for a steady, consistent growth. Chiaretto production increased 12 percent in 2017.
“Nowadays we sell Chiaretto all year, in comparison to only March through August previously,” he says. “One of the best months is November. It’s incredible.
“By looking to our soils, our land, and our grapes,” he continues, “we’ve found our identity. Now our goal is to present that to new markets. Not to produce wines for a particular market, but instead to find the markets that match our identity.”
Chiaretto is still very much a niche product; production is about 5 percent of the pink wines coming out of Provence. The market for Chiaretto is those more interested in authentic quality products than T-shirt or hashtag slogans. That’s what the Bardolino producers are counting on, at least.
In April 2018, Peretti began his “next revolution.” A new agreement connects the five Italian regions that have historically produced rosé from indigenous grapes, including Chiaretto di Bardolino, of course; Valtenesi Chiaretto (made on the Lombardy side of Garda, using Groppello); Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo (made from Montepulciano); and rosato from two parts of Puglia: Salice Salentino (Negroamaro) and Castello del Monte (Bombino Nero).
“We don’t see ourselves as competitors, rather as complementary,” Peretti says in a rare show of amity among Old World wine regions. “So we’ve decided to try to explain, to both Italians and the world, that Italy has a long history in the production of rosé and that each region has unique characteristics to offer.”
“We want to help people understand that historical rosé does not just come from France,” he says. “We are proudly sure of our quality and believe we can offer strong competition to the popular French rosés.”
With all the news coming out about Barolo and Barbaresco, it’s the perfect time to brush up on the amazing grape behind these wines. Why? Prices are notching up from these two Nebbiolo regions, so you’re likely to find great values from neighboring areas.
First things first, a little bit about Nebbiolo:
Imagine getting kicked in the face by a ballerina.
Nebbiolo has this exact same kind of elegant brutality.
One the one hand, it’s elegant. Nebbiolo is best drank from a Pinot-shaped glass so that its delicate aromas of roses, raspberry coulis (“koo-lee”), and anise waft into your nose.
On the other hand, it’s brutal. When tasted, Nebbiolo has so much astringency and mouth-drying tannins that your eyes start watering.
It’s a visceral experience. You’ll either love it or hate it. Naturally, we love it.
Many Faces of Italian Nebbiolo
In truth, not all Nebbiolo has rip-roaringly high tannins. Also, not all Nebbiolo smells like flowers. Each region in Northern Italy has a different expression of the stuff. Here are the ones to know:
The color is pale garnet, which doesn’t really give you any clue of the intensity in this wine. Its rigid tannins, bold flavors, and higher alcohol (usually around 14% ABV) are more like something you’d find in Bordeaux.
Sommeliers love to describe Barolo with two words: “roses” and “tar.” Of course, Barolo is actually the fruitiest and most full-bodied of all the Nebbiolo regions in Northern Italy. Expect flavors of raspberry, red cherry, roses, potpourri, cocoa, anise, licorice, allspice, truffles, and a clay lick.
Barolo wines age at least 18 months in the barrel, with a total of three years aging before release. Even though that sounds like a lot, this wine is really meant to age. Most traditionally-made examples only start to come around at 10+ years (when all the tannins chill out).
Riserva Wines labeled Barolo “Riserva” are aged for a minimum of five years.
Vigna on a label indicates a single vineyard wine.
There are eleven different communes of Barolo, with two different main taste styles (based on the soil type: limestone vs. sandstone). (Of course, winemaker influence matters too, but that’s a story for another time.)
The lighter-tasting wine communes include La Morra and Barolo, with limestone-based soils.
The bolder-tasting wine communes include Serralunga d’Alba, Monforte d’Alba, and Castiglione Falletto, with more weathered sandstone-clay soils.
The mostly fertile limestone-based soils in Barbaresco (along with its slightly milder climate) results in wines with noticeably less tannins than Barolo.
That’s not to say Barbaresco isn’t tannic; it’s still a monster! It’s just a nicer, friendlier sort of beast.
In terms of flavors, Barbaresco delivers amazing red fruit. Aromas of strawberry, raspberry, cherry syrup, and cotton candy all mingle together on top of roses, potpourri, and lighter notes of anise. It’s not quite as “tarry.”
Barbaresco must age 26 months (~2 years), with at least 9 months in the barrel.
Barbaresco Riserva must age 50 months (~4 years), with about 24 months in the barrel.
Roero also sits within Alba in Piedmont right in-between Barolo and Barbaresco. This wine continues to fly under the radar even though it was recently elevated to DOCG status in 2004. Nebbiolo wines are every bit as intense and structured as Barolo (but usually at a fraction of the price). They also have Barbaresco’s sweet fruit.
Leave a call-out below if you’re a Somm who’s freaking out (in delight) about Roero. We’d all love to hear what you’re drinking.
Roero Riserva requires at least of 32 months of aging, including six months in the barrel.
What’s a DOCG?
Italian wines follow a classification system indicated on the neck of the bottle. DOCG is technically the highest classification standard for protected designation of origin. (It stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). Find out more about how Italian wines are labeled.
Other Nebbiolo Regions
Boca Nebbiolo is called Spanna here and wines also blend in Vespolina and Uva Rara. These are earthy, rustic wines with high acidity, high tannin, and often iron-like aromas from the region’s soils.
Bramaterra Nebbiolo is also called Spanna here and blended with Vespolina and Uva Rara. Wines are lighter in style with simple fresh red berry and rose aromas with medium tannin and ample acidity. Many consider it a sin to open a bottle before 10 years.
Canavese Nebbiolo A single-varietal Nebbiolo with a minimum of 85% Nebbiolo (but often more) coming from Northern provinces in Piedmont where the rare white, Erbaluce, grows. Wines seem to be equally floral and earthy with strong tannins and licorice notes. For quality, seek out those serious examples with around 14% ABV!
Carema Another Northern Piedmontese gem that produces Nebbiolo on the lighter side – imagine roses, violets, truffles, and wild strawberries. Aging must be at least three years and the Riserva bottlings require four!
Fara Nebbiolo is called Spanna in Fara Novarese and wines include Spanna, Vespolina, and Uva Rara. Fara is thought to be a very ancient wine, grown in the hills west of Milan. Wines have rich dried fruit and rustic leather aromas.
Ghemme DOCG and Gattinara DOCG Two neighboring Northern Piemontese regions producing single-varietal Nebbiolo wines with rich dried fruit aromas and rustic earthy notes.
Langhe Nebbiolo Langhe is the region that encompasses Barolo, Barbaresco, and Roero. Vineyards in sites outside of the DOCG regions are positioned in the lower hills or on North-facing plots where it is harder to ripen Nebbiolo. Still, on outstanding vintages, this is a great place to hunt for values.
Lessona The best Lessona is 100% Nebbiolo, although some include a blend of Vespolina, Croatina, and Uva Rara. The region’s sandy soils produce wines of lithe elegance with perfumed floral notes of roses, peonies, and violets. On the palate, Lessona has high acidity and is very structured, making it wise to age them for 10 or so years to reach their peak.
Nebbiolo d’Alba An even larger region that encompasses much of South Central Piedmont produces a great deal of value-driven Nebbiolo wines. Nebbiolo d’Alba ranges in taste from fruity and floral to herbaceous and rustic. This is a wine where the right vintage will really make a difference!
Valtellina, Lombardy In neighboring Lombardy there is a transverse valley that opens to Lake Como. Here, in the south-facing hills, you’ll find Nebbiolo is called Chiavennasca. The region is much cooler and produces wines with tart, earthy berry notes and high acidity. This is where you’ll find the rare Sfurzato or Sfursat wine, which is essentially a Nebbiolo made in the style of Amarone della Valpolicella.