Custoza, if you’ve not heard of it, is located Northern Italy in the Provence of Verona—comprised of nine townships, named after village of Custoza, a hamlet of Sommacamapgna. The hills originate from glacial deposts between Verona and Lake Garda – massive amount of deposits created an incredibly complex and variable soil situation. The main soils are calcareous clay, interspersed with gravelly rocks and sand. It is this soil structure that greatly differentiates Custoza from surrounding DOCs. It is the soil that creates a uniqueness to the white wines produced, providing a savoriness that will make any doubter of the reality of ‘minerality’ a true believer.
I find Santa Barbara wine country so interesting. As a kid, Santa Barbara always meant vacation—hot days, sandy toes, beach water I could actually swim in. (If you grew up along the San Francisco shoreline, you know what I mean when I say Pacific Beach is never that welcoming). So, it’s interesting that a placed perceived as a summertime getaway where board shorts and flip flops are basically the dress code, could produce wines with any kind of delicacy. Let alone the cool-climate grapes for which it’s gained a reputation, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
But as all you fellow wine nerds know, the cool thing (pun not intended, but not deleted either) is that because of tectonic plate-shifting, Santa Barbara’s Transverse Ranges are exactly that—transverse. Whereas most of California’s coastal ranges run from north to south, limiting some inland locations from cool ocean breezes and fog patterns, in Santa Barbara the ranges go from east to west, thereby funneling in that cool ocean air.
The two major AVAs are Santa Maria and Santa Ynez, the latter of which contains four sub-AVAs: Santa Rita Hills, Ballard Canyon, Los Olivos, and Happy Canyon.
But at the end of 2020, Santa Barbara County finalized the approval process for its seventh appellation—Alisos Canyon AVA
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.