Italy is known for its rich variety of grape varieties and diverse wine production. While popular varieties like Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, and Barbera dominate the market, there are many lesser-known grapes that produce exceptional wines. In this article, we will explore some of these lesser-known Italian grape varieties, including Nerello Mascalese and Corvina, and their unique characteristics.
Nerello Mascalese is a red grape variety primarily grown in the volcanic soils of Mount Etna in Sicily. It is often compared to the famous Nebbiolo grape of Piedmont due to its similar high acidity, elegant structure, and ability to age well. Wines made from Nerello Mascalese are known for their delicate aromas of red berries, herbs, and spices, as well as their bright acidity and fine tannins. They have a unique combination of power and finesse, making them a favorite among wine enthusiasts.
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Corvina is a red grape variety that is primarily grown in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy. It is one of the primary grapes used in the production of the famous Amarone and Valpolicella wines. Corvina wines are known for their rich flavors of cherries, plums, and spices, as well as their full-bodied and velvety texture. They often exhibit complex aromas and have a long aging potential. Corvina is typically blended with other local grapes such as Rondinella and Molinara to create the unique and iconic flavors of Amarone and Valpolicella wines.
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Other Lesser-Known Grape Varieties
In addition to Nerello Mascalese and Corvina, there are numerous other lesser-known grape varieties in Italy that are worth exploring. For example, Aglianico is a red grape variety grown in southern Italy, particularly in the regions of Campania and Basilicata. Aglianico wines are full-bodied with intense flavors of dark fruits, spices, and earthy notes.
Vermentino is a white grape variety primarily grown in Sardinia and Liguria. It produces aromatic and refreshing white wines with flavors of citrus, green apple, and herbal notes.
Another white grape variety to mention is Greco di Tufo. It is grown in the Campania region and is known for producing rich and complex white wines with flavors of tropical fruits, honey, and a distinct minerality.
Exploring lesser-known Italian grape varieties like Nerello Mascalese, Corvina, Aglianico, Vermentino, and Greco di Tufo can be a rewarding experience for wine enthusiasts. These grapes offer unique flavors and characteristics that showcase the diverse terroir and winemaking techniques of the different regions of Italy. So next time you’re looking for a new wine to try, consider stepping outside the popular varieties and delve into the world of these hidden gems.