Oltrepò Pavese is 25 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. Consorzio Tutela Vini Oltrepò Pavese both promotes and protects this wine region. Thanks to Susannah Gold, founder of Vigneto Communications, for guiding us on the journey to learn more about these wines. As you can see in this photo of samples we received, the industry does not use a specific bottle size.
Oltrepò Pavese: Tuscany of the North
The first mention of viticulture in Oltrepò dates back to 40 BC. These days, there are only about 10 grape varieties grown there. But in 1884, Oltrepò boasted 225. Oltrepò comprises four valleys and four regions, and is known for its biodiversity. Consorzio Tutela Vini Oltrepò Pavese wants it to be known for quality and environmental, economic and social sustainability. They call it “ethical sustainability.” Consequently, more than 160 producers and 1,300 growers associate with the Consorzio, and produce 75 million bottles annually.
As well as amazing wine, Oltrepò Pavese offers delicious food experiences to tourists. And you’ll find medieval villages, castles, and lots of excellent hiking and mountain biking. The views are panoramic. For example, on a clear day, you can see the Alps.
Tuscany of the North Wines
The area 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.
Vanzini Pinot Grigio 2021
What a unique 2021 Pinot Grigio from Vanzini. First, we noticed the unusual bottle shape for a Pinot Grigio. Next came intense aromas of apples, pears and bananas, echoed on the palate. Further, we experienced the minerality and salinity from the vineyard soil of sandstone and clay at 400 meters above sea level. Finally, we appreciated the structure and elegance of this 100% Pinot Grigio. We have never tasted a similar Pinot Grigio, and we really enjoyed it. This wine is complex and full-bodied, and you can savor it without food, as we did. However, it will also complement fish dishes or a cheese plate. Vanzini, a family winery since 1890, obtains grapes from their own 33 hectares, and similarly, from 30 hectares owned by others.
Tenuta Mazzolino Camara Chardonnay IGT 2020
Tenuta Mazzolino‘s impressive100% Chardonnay is unoaked, with crisp acidity and lots of minerality. Aromas of lemons, grapefruit, apples and sage lead into flavors of stone fruit and lots more citrus. As a result, we would not be able to tell that this is a Chardonnay in a blind tasting. Several critics compare it to French Chardonnay. We don’t often bump into a Chardonnay from Italy, so this is a very pleasant surprise. We loved it. Pair it with seafood, risotto or medium-aged cheese. The Braggiotti family has owned the Mazzolino Estate since 1980. They farm 20 hectares of vineyards, comprised of clay and slightly calcareous soils.
Cà Montebello di Scarini Luige Sangue di Giuda 2021
Cà Montebello‘s Sangue di Giuda blends Barbera, Croatina and Uva Rara grapes into a lightly sweet, medium-bodied red wine frizzante. Common in Oltrepò Pavese, Sangue di Giuda is one of the few red dessert wines in the world. Aromas of blueberries, raisins, raspberries, and cherries mirror the palate. Even if you’re not fans of sweet wine, open this light sparkler, slightly chilled, over the holidays. Serve it with pastries, or try it with biscuits, spicy cheeses or roasted chestnuts.
Calatroni Mon Carul Pinot Nero Fioravanti 2020
Having turkey during the holidays? Open a bottle of Calatroni Mon Carul Pinot Nero Fioravanti 2020. And if turkey doesn’t grace your holiday table in the weeks ahead, pair this wine with salmon, pasta or rare steak. This is 100% Pinot Nero, aka Pinot Noir, from Oltrepò Pavese, which is Italy’s largest Pinot Noir producer, and the third largest in Europe, after Burgundy and Champagne. Calatroni Mon Carul has been certified organic since 2019. Located on the 45th parallel, the region shares many similarities with Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
Summary: Tuscany of the North
In conclusion, Oltrepò Pavese wines are both food-friendly and wallet friendly. This beautiful wine region is one of the largest in Italy, with more than 160 wineries and 1,200 growers associated with the consortium. We hope you will join us on this journey to learn more about Oltrepò Pavese.
For instance, you could give a gift bottle to a friend or take it to your dinner host this holiday season. Or pour it at your own holiday party. These are very versatile wines. Cin Cin!
Meanwhile, find us here at Write for Wine and on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Margot and Dave