We’re back almost two months now. Back from our Honeymoon, touring around Southern Italy from Campania to Puglia and back again. We had a great time, even if there were some interesting moments while driving. That’s all for another post however, this post is very much about wine and my observations from our two week adventure.
Fiano is Everywhere
Fiano is everywhere and I bloody adore it! I have written a more detailed post about this which goes into more detail on the ancient grape variety. It’s not terribly well known here in Ireland which really is a pity – it makes a cracking wine, particularly in the province of Avellino where it has a DOCG classification. It’s floral, fruity but unlike a lot of Italian whites – is not over acidic, perfect for sipping on in the evening.
Don’t be Afraid of the Locals
Local varieties are absolutely worth trying and the quality is surprisingly good. It’s very tempting to stick to what you know in a foreign country but you may well be missing out on some magnificent wines. Italy has more than 2,000 native grape varieties, very few of which they export. It is also much more interesting to taste these wines in their natural habitat. A Bombino Bianco may well be a bit too light for a cold Irish evening but it provides a lovely, refreshing option in the heat of Lecce.
Don’t be a Tourist!
Specialist food and wine shops are popping up all over Southern Italy but they are generally aimed at tourists and have prices to match. Yes, they will still be cheaper than home but you may get a fright when you see the same wine available in the local supermarket for less than half the price. Stay away from shops that sell local products of the area. Instead look for shops that, along with wine sell water in bulk – they are aimed at locals and will provide the best value.
A good rosato is hard to beat, especially in the mid-summer heat. We spent time in Puglia, Basilicata and Campania and all four regions are producing good quality, local rosato (rosé). As the south is so warm, the reds are often big, bold and full bodied. These can be difficult to enjoy in the heat of Summer and so the same grape varieties are used to make a whole host of rosato. I was particularly fond of varieties made from Nero di Troia and Nogroamaro in Puglia while the Costa D’Amalfi Rosato from Aglianico, Piedirosso and Tintore di Tramonti is the perfect foil for almost any dish.
Always keep your eyes open for a bargain. Just because a grape variety is starting to take off in other parts of the World, that doesn’t mean that they charge the same prices here. A good Aglianico del Vulture will set you back well over €20 here but, in Basilicata you could buy two and still have change from a tenner. These are big, tannic wines that are perfect for ageing – if you have a way of bringing them home, pick up a few bottles and hide them in the sock drawer for a few years.
Speaking of bargains, Southern Italy is a great place to treat yourself to some really excellent wine while on your holiday. An old Aglianico, a full bodied Primitivo di Manduria and even some of the Northern stars like Barolo and Brunello are all available for a fraction of what they cost here. Watch the vintages though – you don’t want to be drinking a very young Aglianico or Barolo no matter how little it cost!