Sunday, April 19, 2009

Lost In Piedmont...

If I got lost in Piedmont, I blame it all on the Moscato d'Asti. The sweet dessert wine commonly known as Moscato or Muscat, which is currently being cultivated with wild success in California from wineries like St. Supery, is here named after its town of origin, in this case Asti. The Moscato d'Asti I tried all had a perfect balance of intense honey-suckle sweetness and light, dance off your tongue cleanness; a feat I am always amazed at. I'm glad to see that the oldest grape variety in the world has aged so delicately.

Recently the editor for a travel guide I write for asked if I'd found any Italian white wines that I'd recommend. Since the Moscato, I've been tasting mostly reds and I haven't been paying too much attention to Pinot Grigio, but the wonderful Fiano grape is currently doing very impressive things, particularly Fiano di Avellino and Lacryma Christi.

I have found that most Fiano based wines have a wonderful lemoniness to them (though some, such as I Pastini's Fiano Minutole, verge on dish soap) with a cutting acidity that makes the finish almost bitter. It is a great palate cleanser. Fiano di Avellino is a DOCG wine. I liked A Casa's when I tried it, having both a brightness and a limey, pithy finish. It was light bodied. As far as I know, however, A Casa's wines are not available in the U.S. Try out Terredora di Paola's instead.

If Fiano di Avellino is a more balanced take on Fiano, then Lacryma Christi (literally translating to "The Tears of Christ", full history offered in this prior post) leaves no holds barred. I like to try Lacryma Christi bianco as often as possible because it is very versatile. My favorite so far is Vinosia's Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio 2007, also unavailable in the U.S., named such because the grape vines grow in the volcanic soil of Mt. Vesuvius. Lacryma Christi is often medium to full bodied and reminiscent of Chardonnay for this reason. However, instead of the toast or butter of California's Chardonnay, Lacryma Christi has intense minerality with a great depth of character. I can even say it reminds me of Limoncello for a moment before the peppery bitterness envelopes.

Since traveling through Piedmont, I've made it to Puglia, where I'll be living for the next months. Once moved in, I thought it would be a good idea to acquaint myself with as many Pugliese wines as quickly as possible, and I attended a wonderful wine convention in Puglia last night, where I tried hundreds of local wines. In my next post, I'll try to sort them out and offer my first impressions.

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