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Jan 12, 2005 02:02 PM

Wine: "most important Italian indigenous varietals"

  • k

Now I like wine and I have some basic knowledge of wine. I don't make any claims beyond that and I bow humbly before the experts around here.

That said, I read something in the NYT today that doesn't sound right to me so I'm trying to make it a teachable (learnable?) moment.

In an article about wines from Campania (see link below), the following quote appeared:

"'I consider aglianico with nebbiolo probably the most important Italian indigenous varietals,' said Riccardo Cotarella, an oenologist who has worked with some of Campania's most important winemakers."

Like I said, I'm no oenologist but shouldn't the sangiovese grape get a little love here?

So which is it:
a) sangiovese really isn't on the "most important" list
a) sangiovese is not "Italian"
b) sangiovese is not "indigenous"
c) Mr. Cotarella had been tasting all day when he gave that quote.

Thanks for any wisdom on this!


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  1. Sangiovese is grown primarily in Tuscany, not Campania.

    1. e
      Elaine (Snutteplutten)

      There are 2000+ indigenous Italian varietals, and every Italian winemaker will (understandably) tell you that those from his own backyard are the memorable ones.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Elaine (Snutteplutten)

        If he was quoted correctly, the statement is quite telling. Mr. Cotarella is from Umbria and is well-known for his work with Sangiovese wines in his own backyard.

        1. re: Melanie Wong
          Elaine (Snutteplutten)

          Didn't realize that he was from Umbria- that does make the statement more interesting.

      2. As the other posters implied, you have to look at where he is coming from on that quote.

        Sangiovese is thought by some to have been cultivated in central Italy back at least to pre-roman times. That sounds pretty Italian and indigenous to me. I suspect all the brunello, chianti, and super-tuscan producers think it is on the important list.

        It is interesting, though, that he mentioned nebbiolo.

        Maybe the correct answer really is D

        1. Technically, there is no indigenous Italian wine. Period.
          Nor greek. Grapes, olive trees and wheat were brought in from the near east and north africa. Grapes (vinifera) are native to the Caucasus and stretch to the Black sea and caspian. Wild that is.

          There is also no indigenous Irish potato, etc.