Most wine stores stock Italian wines the same way tour operators offer trips to the Mediterranean country. You might see a 10 day trip to Italy advertised as, 4 days in Rome, 3 in Milan, 2 in Tuscany and 1 day somewhere else to make you think you saw the entire country. Wine stores are much the same, 40% Tuscany, 30% Veneto, 20% Piemonte and 10% falling under the not so sexy header of “Other Italian.” My apologies to all the wine store managers out there reading this and feeling self conscious.
I have pulled the cork on five samples that would fall under the “Other Italy” banner. It looks like I might have grabbed these alphabetically as they all start with Feudi. I guess I could always Google what Feudi means, but I rather enjoy my certainly wrong assumption it is Italian for family feud. Conflict can make for some passionate art, and we can only think of feud that created Romeo and Juliet. I can guess Feudi refers to a Feudal system and the way the land is owned and the grapes are collected. But I will avoid wikipedia on this one as I prefer my romantic take on things.
I have concentrated one producer from Puglia. Feudi Di San Marzano is a well distributed house that offers both DOC and IGT products. Their Primitivo DiManduria DOC Sessantanni 2006 and PrimitivoDi Manduria DOC Sud 2007 are both very smooth ruby red to violets. The Di Manduria product has an enhanced roundness that booms and caresses and reminds me of Luciano Pavorotti singing duet with Bono on Ms. Sarajevo. Pavorotti’s voice is so strong and could overpower the rest of the song but yet his maturity is the tie that binds. As you may know that song was about finding normalcy, if not beauty in the midst of a conflict that could easily compared to an old feud. By the way the Di Manduria vines are a healthy 60 years young. Black is the colour of my next love: the Negroamaro Puglia IGT Farnese Feudi Di San Marzano 2008. I need to dive deeper into this dark coloured grape. When tasting this grape for the first time as 100% ingredient, I initially wondered if Negroamaro was related to the black grape, Malbec. Negative, on the connection but this product does have some Malbec/Cahors notes. Great listening companion, Nina Simone’s Black is The Colour of My Love and you can find more conflict in her voice than even Shakespeare could have shaken a stick at.
From the east coast of Italy to an island off the west coast, Sardegna has had its share of conflict as the French, Spanish and even Austrians have also made claims on that island over the years. That French influence perhaps came through in the Cannonau grape, which is simply grenache by a Sardegnian name. Pretty much what you would expect from a grenache but maybe a fruitier version thereof – the grapes are exposed to lots of intense sunlight. Sardegnians are known for their a cappella choral music along the lines of Gregorian chants… fumble around your music collection and find Gregorian chants, bonus points to you if have some. They also offer a Vermentino Di Sardegna DOC Albithia 2007 which had lilly and vanilla notes on a white table wine with a penchant for sweetness. This would be perfect for smoked salmon appetizers and Carly Simon’s seminal album No Secrets.