08/08/07 – Italian varietals grown in the USA

By Jesse on August 6, 2007


Sounds like a crazy idea, I know, to try and find Italian varietals that aren’t grown in Italy.  Well, maybe that’s because I’ve been going crazy following the loss of my beloved glasses.  At Jason’s party, those treasured companions of mine who were my closest friends on my trip “down under” and ever since were unceremoniously taken and hidden by one of the guests, who — five minutes later — somehow failed to remember where they had put them.  Not only that, but inexplicably none of the seven or eight other guests could seem to recall either where the glasses had gone or who was responsible for the heist.  Conspiracy?  I hope not.  Long story short is that if you come to the meeting tomorrow, you’ll see me pitifully without my favorite pair of glasses for the first time in many months.

As far as Italian varietals go, we’re in slightly better shape.  We’ve used wine club money to purchase a flight of four wines from Santa Barbara’s Mandolina winery.  They are:

–Mandolina 2006 Pinot Grigio. Wild strawberry and quince flavors illustrate that, like love, Mandolina’s winemaking skills obey no color lines.
–Mandolina 2002 Nebbiolo fits in just fine in its adopted homeland. But most immigrants aren’t this soft and chewy. And even fewer offer tempting aromas of dried cherries, rose water, plum jame, and sweet clove. Welcome home, Nebbiolo – you’re one of us now.
–Mandolina 2005 Sangiovese, part of a rising tide of Sangiovese comin’ outta Cali. It’s easy to see what’s the hubbub, bub: characteristic Sangi aromas of wild strawberry, tea, and leather mingle with flavors of wild cherry and anise in a passionate opera of the senses.
–Mandolina 2002 Toccata salutes the classic blends of Tuscany, with a splash of Bourdeaux varieties to keep things contemporary. As smooth and spicy as a habanero milkshake, it dances a wild tarantella to the rhythm of wild strawberry, black currant, red raspberry, black cherry, and violet.

Please feel free to pick any classical Italian varietal that’s made somewhere other than Italy, especially California.  As we know, the Italians do produce some good Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, etc., but these are not distinctly Italian grapes.  Instead, try to stick to:

–Pinot Grigio
–Pinot Bianco (pinot blanc)
–Moscato (muscat canelli)

       The Italians, like other Europeans, are also fond of using place-names to describe their wines, and some of these terms may have been appropriated by producers abroad.  For example, if you see a bottle of California Chianti or Brunello, go ahead and bring it (check first to make sure that it’s made from Sangiovese).  Same deal if you see a Barolo, Barbaresco, Valipocella or Soave from outside Italy — as long as they’re made from distinctive Italian grapes, they’re a good bet.

**These will be bottles you’ll want to look for at a wine shop, as large grocery stores may have a good supply of Italian wines but probably not of Italian varietals grown in the US.  Plan accordingly.  (Remember, you can always bring $10 instead.)

We’ll be meeting at Theresa and Joe’s new place on the Miracle Mile.  Bring an American bottle of Italian inspiration, and we’ll see you all on Wednesday at 9pm.