So you’re a bit of a fiend for the old vino eh? Well luckily for you, it’s almost harvest season in Italy, home to some of the world’s most well known wines, such as Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino in Tuscany, Barolo and Moscato d’Asti in Piedmonte, and Etna in Sicily. Beginning in October, grapes from vineyards across the country are harvested by hand or mechanically. This is a long and tiring process, however the final results make this effort more than worthwhile.
Italy holds a strong wine tradition dating back to before the Ancient Greeks, who introduced wine making to Sicily and southern Italy around 800 BC. The Romans further extended wine production after the defeat of Carthage in the 2nd Century BC and wine production has never stopped growing since. With over one million vineyards, Italy is the largest producer of wine across the globe. Throughout Italy, there are roughly 350 types of ‘authorised’ grapes in use throughout wine production, not to mention the 330+ wines that have obtained the Controlled Designation of Origin (DOC) certification, and 70+ with the Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin (DOCG) certification. This all makes Italy an amazing destination for a wine vacation!
Italians and tourists alike look forward to November 6, the biggest date on the wine calendar every year when first wine – so called ‘Vino Novello‘ or ‘young wine’ – from that year’s harvest is ready to drink! This light and fruity red is produced using several types of grapes. The alcohol content rarely exceeds 11% and the aroma is often very subtle. Fermentation can be accelerated during the production of Novello through a number of techniques, such as adding CO2 into the large sealed barrels where the wine is stored, reducing the fermentation time to roughly 20 days. Novello was first produced in the 1970s and was officially recognised in 1987.
Vino Novello wines produced in Italy differ every year so this alone is a reason to sample the latest product of this nation’s heritage. To get a true sense for the colour of your Novello, tilt the glass against a whitewash background and admire. When smelling the wine, be sure to consider qualities like fruits, herbs and flowers. Tasting should include factors such as body, sweetness and balance. Vino Novellos can be paired fantastically with steaks and cheeses, however you could try chocolate and bananas too.