As we’ve seen in our previous wine blogs, to give a comprehensive and well-deserved context about the different types of wine is virtually a never-ending and somewhat challenging feat. Nevertheless, Sciacca has endeavoured to give a concise synopsis of but a few of the varieties of wines we have in our wide-ranging wine list. This time, we decided to take you on a journey to discover three of our many popular selections of white wines…
Greco di Tufo
This wine’s grape is a replica of Greco Bianco and was introduced to Campania by the Pelasgians, an ancient people from Thessaly in Greece. To truly appreciate this Italian wine, you need to go back in time, to over 2000 years ago, when the Greeks occupied the southern spreads of the country and first planted vines there.
Greco di Tufo is responsible for what is perhaps the region’s most admired white wine, made principally from the grape variety that shares its name. Indeed, one of the most important white grapes still cultivated today is the aptly christened Greco, specifically named as such to pay homage to the early Greek settlers. The name Tufo refers not only to one of the villages from which the wine comes, but also the type of rock on which the village was built.
The appellation received its DOCG status in 2003. Each wine must contain a minimum of 85% Greco di Tufo grapes, and up to 15% of Coda di Volpe Bianca grapes is also permitted, at the discretion of each winemaker. A sparkling Greco di Tufo spumante variant can also be made, and must be aged for at least three years, prior to its release.
Greco is most famously grown in the province of Avellino – historically known as Irpinia- located inland some 30 miles east of Napoli and the sea. In and around the town of Tufo – named for the tufaceous soil – the wine is known as Greco di Tufo. Many Campanian wines – both white and red – are described as having mineral flavours, which is due in large parts to the local soils, many of which have been transformed by deposits of lava from Mount Vesuvius over the centuries.
The vines from which Greco di Tufo wines are made are cultivated at an altitude of 1310–1640ft (450–500m), where the cooler temperatures allow grapes to enjoy the persistent summer sunshine without overheating or having their photosynthesis shut down. This allows them to ripen without losing too much acidity, an effect magnified by the higher diurnal temperature variation here.
Greco di Tufo stands out from the crowd thanks to the unique characteristics of the sulphur and tufa-rich volcanic and clay soils; such characteristics probably lend the wine its perfume and mineral complexity. The refreshing, crisp white wine is known for its aromatic notes of lemons, pears and toasted almonds and a lingering mineral finish.
Enter the Falanghina – a grape with expectations. Falanghina is an ancient Italian white-wine grape, purportedly of Greek origin. It’s also said that Falanghina is the grape variety behind Falernian, the most celebrated wine of Roman antiquity and the inspiration for Falerno del Massico. There has been a resurgence of interest in Falanghina since the turn of the century, and there is now a movement to restore the reputation of this once-venerated grape.
Like the previously explained Greco, most Falanghina is grown in Campania, in southern Italy. The vines flourish in the permeable volcanic soils around Mount Vesuvius and the warm Mediterranean climate. The berries are yellow skinned and glazed with a thin layer of protective wax. As a wine, Falanghina can have an elusive pine scent, but is better identified for its citrus-blossom aromas, particularly its bitter orange trace. On the palate, it characteristically displays classic apple and pear flavours, depending on where it’s grown, with spicy or mineral notes.
Falanghina is often merged with other homegrown Italian varieties, or produced as a sweet passito wine, but varietal expressions of this interesting grape are becoming more popular. What’s more, there are at least two sub-varieties of Falanghina: Falanghina Flegrea and Falanghina Beneventana. The best-known production zones are located just north of Naples.
There’s something very idiosyncratic about Falanghina. This white grape has been grown in southern Italy for epochs. Thriving in the Irpinian hills of Campania, to the east of Naples, where it’s escaped destruction by a tide of international varieties because “it’s so isolated here,” says Feudi di San Gregorio’s Francesca Festa.
Falanghina offers a gentle, neroli-scented, mouthful of summer that’s easy to drink and is equally comfortable simply flushing off the frustrations of the day as accompanying fish straight off the barbecue. Falanghina is very versatile as a white wine. It’s light and tangy enough for lunch, yet fresh enough to drink in the garden.
Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris are usually interchangeable. That said, it’s useful to know that Pinot Grigio to suggests a dry ‘Italian’ style wine whereas Pinot Gris infers a fruity ‘French’ style.
Pinot Grigio is not just the vigorous mouth-moisturizer you might expect. In actuality, there are three main types of Pino Grigio that have some prominent differences between them. The 3 Main Types of Pinot Grigio:
• Minerally & Dry
• Fruity & Dry
• Fruity & Sweet
Minerally & Dry
This style is most well-known from the northern parts of Italy and traverses the foothills of the Alps nearly all the way from Italy through Austria and even Romania, Slovenia and Hungary. The mountains are a prevailing force on the agriculture, assuring that the grapes keep their high acidity.
When drinking this wine, you should expect an exceptionally dry texture that pairs seamlessly with mussels or French fries – a perfect accompaniment for warm summer days. This style is the archetypal Pinot Grigio, treasured for its simplicity, ‘lack of fruit’ and sometimes briny quality.
Fruity & Dry
Specialists often choose the title Pinot Gris to define this fruit-driven style of Pinot Gris. You’ll be able to taste undertones of lemon, yellow apple and white peach. This manifestation of fruit in the aroma signposts that these wines grew in a more sun-friendly climate.
Apart from the fruity fragrances, the wines have less powerful tartness and more of a silky textured mouthfeel. This is because winemakers habitually add specific bacteria after the alcohol fermentation which ‘digests’ sharp acids and ‘excretes’ smooth acids. This process is called Malolactic Fermentataion — where Malic acid is the harsh acid and lactic acid is the smooth oily one.
Fruity & Sweet
Conceivably the only place in the world that makes a quality sweeter-style Pinot Gris is Alsace, France. For centuries Alsace attempted to recreate the intensely sweet white wine called Tokaji (‘toe-kye’) drunk by kings in Transylvania and the Ottoman empire. In fact, up until 2007, Alsace could use the words ‘Tokay d’Alsace’ on their bottles instead of Pinot Gris!
Today, Alsace is one of the only provinces in the world making a sweet style of Pinot Gris. With flavours of sweet lemon candy, honeycomb and honey crisp apples, winemakers apply very cutting-edge winemaking practices to augment the mouthfeel texture and use late harvest and noble rot grapes to optimize the flavour potential.
From crisp white wine to delicately pink rosé or deep ruby red wine, we can assure you that our extensive list of wines will surely satisfy your thirst for a quality glass of wine. Whether it’s chilling out after a week’s work with some colleagues, celebrating a loved one’s birthday or toasting to your anniversary with your significant other, we believe there’s no better way to accompany life’s festivities than imbibing a rich glass of wine.
We invite you to Sciacca to come and peruse through our wide selection of these rich drinks, whatever you’re in the mood for. So, what are you waiting for? Book your table at Sciacca to enjoy the company of your friends and family while drinking and being merry!