Oltrepò Pavese is 40 miles south of Milan and frequently called Tuscany of the North. It is the largest wine-producing area of Lombardy and one of the largest in Italy. Unfortunately, it’s not well known in the U.S. However, Consorzio Tutela Vini Oltrepò Pavese is seeking to change that, as we recently discovered in a webinar. Please join us on this journey to learn more about these wines. Thanks for being our guide, Susannah Gold, founder of Vigneto Communications. Read on for details.
The first mention of viticulture in Oltrepò dates back to 40 BC. In 1884, Oltrepò boasted 225 grape varieties. These days, there are only about dozen. Now, the wine industry is both promoted and protected by Consorzio Tutela Vini Oltrepò Pavese. More than 160 wineries and 1,300 growers associate with the consortium.
The consortium wants Pavese to be known for quality and environmental, economic and social sustainability. They call it “ethical sustainability.”
Oltrepò comprises four valleys and four regions. As a result, it’s known for its biodiversity.
As well as amazing wine, Oltrepò Pavese offers delicious food experiences to tourists. And the area features medieval villages, castles, and lots of excellent hiking and mountain biking. Biking is so prevalent that wineries keep in contact with those who rent bikes, in hopes they will follow the Eno-tourism route of outdoor wine tastings.
In addition, the views are panoramic. On a clear day, you can see the Alps.
The Wines of Oltrepò Pavese
The region contains about 275 miles of hills and 13,000 hectares of vines with seven designations. Pinot Nero, Croatina, Barbera and Riesling are the four main wines. However, Uva Rara, Ughetta / Vespolina, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Cortese Bianco, Moscato, Malvasia and Muller-Thurgau grapes also grow there. This range means these wines can be paired with many foods, ranging from appetizers to desserts.
Conte Vistarino Ries Riesling Renano 2017 ($20)
What a beautiful wine. This is unlike any Riesling we’ve ever tasted. Well-balanced and smooth, the wine opens with aromas and flavors of white fruits and flowers, along with bright acidity and minerality. If has more structure and is rounder than a typical Riesling from other countries. It pairs nicely with many sides in a Thanksgiving feast, but it also complements seafood dishes. We plan to enjoy this white wine all year round.
Frecciarossa Giorgio Odero Pinot Nero 2016 ($30)
This elegant Pinot Noir offers notes of red fruit, blackberries, spices and cocoa, and paired well with turkey on our Thanksgiving table. Oltrepò Pavese is located on the 45th parallel like Oregon. It is the world’s third-largest area for Pinot Nero. Frecciarossa is one of the region’s oldest estates, founded in 1918. They sourced the grapes from 20-year-old vines, where the soil is a mix of lime and clay. Consequently, the soil kept enough water during the hot season, which resulted in an excellent ripening of the grapes.
Canneto Pavese Quaquarini Francesco Sangue di Giuda 2020 ($18)
In Italy, this Sangue di Giuda is considered a feather in the cap of Canneto Pavese, “a sweet red wine frizzante par excellence.” While we are not fans of sweet wine, lots of our friends would love this. Sangue di Giuda blends Croatina (65%), Barbera (25%) and Ughetta di Canneto (10%). Pair it with cold cuts, dried fruits, tarts, shortbread or other pastries. It is low in alcohol at 6%. Serve it slightly chilled.
Castello di Luzzano SOMMOSSA Bonarda Frizzante 2020 ($19)
Unlike Argentina, Bonarda is not the name of a grape in Italy. Rather, it is the name of a wine, in this case, 100% Croatina. Aromas of blackberries and black currants mirror the flavors on a tangy palate. This Bonarda frizzante is earthy, savory and sweet, so it complements cold cuts, grilled meat, pasta and cheese. Serve it slightly chilled. Documents citing the wines of Luzzano date back as far as the 12th century.
Summary: Oltrepò Pavese
In conclusion, Consorzio Tutela Vini Oltrepò Pavese hopes wine enthusiasts in the U.S. will soon become more familiar with their delicious, food-friendly wines. This beautiful wine region is one of the largest in Italy, with more than 160 wineries associated with the consortium.
Similarly, we hope you will join us on this journey to learn more about Oltrepò Pavese and taste some of these wines, many of which are available in the U.S. Cin Cin!
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Margot and Dave