When I was studying for my WSET Level 3 exam, I had this to say about the Greek wine region:
Greece is one of those wine regions that fascinates me, simply because the tradition of winemaking is so old. I’m one of those people that gets joy out of studying wine because it takes me into different cultures and different cultures’ histories. I kind of wish this section was a bit bigger in the WSET text book. But, I guess that gives me more room to dive deeper either on my own time or, dare I say it, in pursuit of my WSET Diploma??
And here I am, indeed studying for my WSET Diploma and there is much and more to know about Greece in our D3 text. I’m covering just three of the major PDOs here, along with conjunctive tastings.
Do you ever find that something just strikes you when you’re studying? Maybe a grape’s origin story, the history of a wine region, or maybe you just like the way a word sounds. It strikes you, and you are just able to memorize it for no other reason than you just fancy it. That’s me and Gavi di Gavi. Just seeing that phrase, hearing it, saying it out loud, it always brings a smile to my face.
When we think of Northeast Italy, we cannot forget Trentino, Alto Adige, and the Friuli regions—known predominantly for light, fruit forward, easy drinking white wines, typically for early consumption. There’s a broad range of international varieties produced. Specifically in Trentino and Alto Adige, which share geographic, cultural, and political ties to Germany and Austria, we find many varieties that grow in those countries as well. In Friuli, the aptly named Friulano is a dominant white wine grape, of course I believe most of our brain’s will veer toward Pinot Grigio grown in Grave di Friuli DOC. And don’t forget about the red wine grape Schiave. Pop Quiz: Where are more prestigious white wines produced and what is the dominant grape responsible for these higher quality wines? (You can find the answer below this post.)
Today, however, I want to zero in on Veneto: specifically, Valpolicella because there’s something going on in there that, even in my Level 3 I kept getting confused. And, unfortunately that confusion came back to me in my Diploma Studies. I want to take the time to dive into the definitions of basic Valpolicella, passito/appassimento, recioto, Amarone, and ripasso and (hopefully) solidify that understanding with a conjunctive tasting.
Today I’m zero-ing in on the northwest portion of Italy, specifically the key regions for the key red wine grapes grown—Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto. Pop Quiz:Can you describe each of these grape varieties’ key characteristics? How would describe the market positioning for each?
When I was studying for my WSET Level 3 exam, I put together a great general guide to Central Italy. I still find it very useful in that it helps me compartmentalize where the most important regions are on the Italian map and where the most prominent DOCs are within those regions. And that’s great. But as those of you studying for your Diploma-level exam know, that information just scratches the surface of what’s expected of us now.
Italy’s big. It can be intimidating if we look at it like one big chunk. For me, it’s Central Italy that really causes the most confusion. So I want to take some time to look at Central Italy in little pieces and call out a few specifics included in our Diploma level studies that weren’t mentioned in Level 3 that, to my eyes, seem like good nuggets of information to keep in the front of the brain come exam time.