I have always admired Italian wine for its distinct flavors and affinity for food, and I’ve always wondered why they aren’t more popular along our Gulf Coast. The crisp whites are fantastic with our local seafood, and the lush reds pair perfect with pasta. The exotic wine labels and numerous unfamiliar grape varietals can be a bit intimidating, but they are well worth the effort to seek out.
The 2008 Feudi Di San Gregorio Falanghina (I know, it’s a mouthful!) has been one of the most interesting white wines I’ve tasted this year. Falanghina (Fal-an-geena) is a rather obscure ancient Roman grape grown in Campania near Mount Vesuvius. It has an intense nose of fresh cut honeydew melon and lemon, a good bit of acidity and a long, slightly tart finish. The Feudi Falanghina is a lively wine that is much more tantalizing than the wildly popular and overrated Pinot Grigio. A very complex wine for $14.49.
You would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like pizza or pasta with homemade marinara. The 2008 Di Majo Norante Sangiovese from Molise in Southern Italy would be an ideal matchup. Di Majo Norante (De-my-oh Nor-an-tay) is one of the top value estates, and it amazes me how they churn out this 90 point Robert Parker rated wine for $9.99! Sangiovese, Latin for “the blood of Jove,” is the pride of Tuscany and the key grape in Chianti. Surprisingly full-bodied with hints of cherry, earth and cedar in a more fruit forward style but still unmistakingly Italian.
Learning more about Italian wine can be an adventure, but like anything good, it’s a worthwhile pursuit. There are a mind-boggling 3,000-plus registered grape varieties in Italy alone! The Falanghina and Sangiovese are two you should get to know. They express the flavor of Italy, are versatile with food and very affordable. Come on down to Seville’s Wine Shop and get turned on to a new experience.
Seville Quarter, 130 E. Government St., Pensacola. 434-6211, or visit www.sevillequarter.com.