Sunday, January 17, 2016

Is DOCG in the Future for these Five Hopeful Regions?

From the ♫ Catanzaro dreaming on such a winter's day ♫ department...

With the 74th DOCG, Nizza, now official, Italian oenophiles are asking, “What next?” For five regions, Vallée d’Aoste, Liguria, Trentino-Alto Adige, Molise and Calabria, left at the shoreline without as much as a single DOCG, it begs for some DOCG soul-surfing.

Is there not one wine worthy of a DOCG from each of these regions? Is the DOCG classification even that important, or relevant, as it once was thought to be? If it has lost some of its caché, how come Nizza pushed to become the 74th DOCG after a lengthy recess?

Establishing that there is some emotionality about the subject, as well as a political aspect to this which can be, at times, highly charged with regional fervor, are there wines from these five regions, that if the DOCG floodgates were reopening, might be wines to consider? Let’s take a look.

Vallée d’Aoste
An odd little region, but one that is bewitching. Alpine aspect, where vines struggle to grow in heights and temperature extremes. If there were to be just one DOCG, what would it be? Petit Rouge? Donnas Superiore?

An extension of the French Riviera or a satellite of Piedmont? Tuscany? For ages, Liguria has drawn visitors to its rugged coastline. Fresh air, seafood, beaches, hiking, Liguria is not without its many charms. But what one wine aspires to DOCG? Colli di Luni? Rossese di Dolceacqua? Cinque Terre Sciacchetrà? Perhaps Ormeasco di Pornassio?

Trentino - Alto Adige
Another alpine setting, with many wines made in a variety of styles from grapes known and obscure. Surely the technology and the Teutonic drive that dominates activity in the vineyards is worthy of one, or maybe more than one, wine. Which one would it be? Teroldego Rotaliano? Or maybe something more playful, like Lago di Chiappa?

The odd one out in this gang of five. For years, no more than a gas stop on the way between Abruzzo and Apulia. Molise hasn’t been known, traditionally, for great wine. But the Maremma, on Italy’s west coast, didn’t rise to its heights until after the end of the 2nd World War. Why leave Molise out? Which begs the question, “Is there a wine from Molise which represents greatness of place and character like a Brunello, a Barolo, an Amarone?" Maybe a Tintilia? Or something totally new, like a Penzolare di Isernia?

Some think Calabria houses the viticultural soul of modern Italy’s vines. One need only see the site that Attilio Scienza and Nicodemo Librandi established, housing many of the ancient vines that theoretically grapes like Sangiovese and Nebbiolo might have sprung from. Calabria is the ancient grandparent but are their wines worthy of 21st century consideration for something like a DOCG? Perhaps I'm just Catanzaro dreaming on such a winter's day. Maybe Melissa, after all these years? Why not just give it to Ciro, or maybe re-invent the category and call it Circe? Or combine the two and come up with Circinato? Circinato DOCG, it has a ring to it. It'd be safe and warm.

Tuscan Turtle Roll
And while we’re at it, why not elevate the Bolgheri Sassicaia DOC (not to be confused with the Bolgheri DOC, from which it spun off in 2013). I mean, really, if we can sustain an Albana di Romagna DOCG (since 1987!) come on. Give it up to the folks in Bolgheri who with that one small step, turned out to be one giant leap, for Italian wine.

"If it swells, ride it!" - Unknown surfer

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