Recently, I had the opportunity to learn and taste through the wines of Roero, located on the western side of the Langhe region, just below Asti on the map. The tasting and master class was provided by the The Consorzio di Tutela Roero. Founded in 2013, the Consorzio di Tutela Roero aims to protect and promote Roero Docg Bianco and Rosso through the synergy between vine growers and winemakers in the area. According to the Consorzio, the Roero appellation, a DOCG since 2004, covers a total surface of 1,158 hectares of vineyard, of which 889 are planted with Arneis vines and 269 with Nebbiolo vines. Out of an annual production of about 7 million bottles, just over 60% is exported.
And so was our focus of the tasting—the Arneis and Nebbiolo grapes, which can produce a variety of wine styles dependent on specific terroir.
As some of you know, one of my study methods is to create a quick “Top 10,” an at-a-glance list a few key points from a certain country or region. They’re broad, general facts that will test my memory (or, more like, alert me to the things I still have to memorize). I want to provide my Top Southern Italian 10 for you here, but I’ve included a few anecdotes as well—just a few findings that I found interesting that may help with memorization (or, at the very least, entertain you for a moment).
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?
If you’ve been touring Central Italy with me, then you know we’ve stopped on the West Side and East Side—but what about poor Umbria stuck smack dab in the middle? It is technically on the West Side, as it is on the west side of the Apennine mountain range, but in my mind I keep it separate.
When I think of Umbria I think of white wines made from Grecchetto, and this may be because that was the focus in Level 3. And while there’s not loads of details on this central wine region in our Diploma text, it does go into a bit more detail. So below I’ve compiled a list of key points as well as a little tasting.
Before moving forward, test yourself. How would you describe the climate and terroir of Umbria? What are the key characteristics of the Grecchetto grape and what wine styles are produced from it? What is the key red wine grape? Describe its characteristics and the wine styles produced.
On our last exciting episode of Central Italy Diploma Theory and Tasting, we walked along the west coast. (See DipWSET Theory and Tasting—Central Italy (Part 1)) Today, we take a look at the east coast. A fun little factoid I recently realized: If you take a look at the map of Central Italy, you see the Apennine mountains run down the center of the country “like a spine,” some say. Well, if it was a spine, it would have scoliosis—the mountain range curves, bulbs out on the east side, which means there’s less distance between mountain foothills and coastal ranges. So, unlike the expansive wine regions of the west coast, where vineyards planted inland have more continental climates and receive cooling influences from altitude, on the east side, we have a warm Mediterranean climate cooled by the Adriatic air that can reach some of those inland locations. Just thought I’d point that out because I thought it was cool.
Today we’re going to do a little review of Marche and Abruzzo and listen to Metalica. For a more general overview of Central Italy, based on WSET Level 3, please see Wine Region Overview: Central Italy.