Italy is a land full of fascinating and unusual grapes that are indigenous or autochthonous, meaning that they have been there for a long long time, if not forever or original, or adapted to that place so much as to be unique. Read more about this topic here with tasting notes and pairings for several very rare Italian wines. In fact, that is one of my favorite aspects of Italian wines: there are so many interesting grapes to discover! And I’ve been on quest at least once a month for over five years to learn more and write about the interesting indigenous grapes of Italy.
So why bother with “international” grapes like Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, or Merlot grown and made into wine in Italy?
Simple: they’re good!
And since it’s the prompt for this month’s Italian Food Wine Travel Group of wine writers with host Martin Redmond challenging us this month to write about Italian wines made from non-native grapes, we’re turning our attention in that direction.
At first, we were going to write about Pinot Grigio which many people think is native to Italy because the Italian version of the wine is so popular and well known But Pinot Grigio grape originally came from France, where it is known as Pinot Gris, and is best known these days in its expressions from Alsace located in the far north and east near Italy.
Further, we thought it would be fun to compare three Pinot Grigio from Italy with three Pinot Gris from Alsace and to also take the opportunity to discuss the difference between run of the mill Pinot Grigio and that which comes from a DOC or DOCG. We have really nice samples from both regions we’re excited to taste and write about, plus we have a few from other regions of the world that we’d like to compare: our curiosity for these challenges is why we’re so good at tasting wine blind and surprised ourselves by winning a trip to France to compete in the World Wine Tasting Championship!
But then I heard that Sheila Donohue of Verovinogusto had imported a new sparkling wine from Italy made in the traditional method from Chardonnay grapes. When it comes to native Italian grapes, Sheila is a bit of a snob (in the nicest way!) , I figured it was not only phenomenal (because, well honestly, her wines all are!) but it must be superlative if she was going to be importing all the way to the US a sparkling wine made from Chardonnay grown in Italy. And unlike more well known regions for sparkling wine made in Italy from Chardonnay (like Franciacorta, Trento, and less so Oltrepo Pavese), this wine is from a newer DOCG, Alta Larga in the Piedmonte region of Italy famous for red grapes like Barbera and Nebbiolo (aka Barolo).
And yet, this delicious yet geeky (native yeasts! handmade!) sparkling wine made in the traditional method in Italy from Chardonnay belongs on your glass and on your table for your upcoming summer and fall celebrations!
And we are not only some of first people in the US to taste this wine, we are the first people to write about it! If you are a fan of fine wines from Champagne that have minimal dosage, you should check this sustainably grown wine made by a fourth generation farmer, Andrea Ivaldi, which overdelivers at $40 SRP.
Sheila says she just got this and other wines in from Ivaldi in May 2022, and this is the first time for this producer and his wines to be in the US, thanks to her company VeroVino . A small production winery in the Monferrato area of Piedmont, Italy situated in a farmhouse originally built by great-grandfather Guido, Ivaldi wines are made by the family that has cared for the surrounding vines for which they are certified with SQNPI for their sustainable farming practices. Andrea Ivaldi now runs the venture which, according to Sheila, exudes Andrea’s passion for winemaking and the wisdom of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
Made with native yeast fermentation, Ivaldi presents classic wines from the Monferrato where clay and calcareous soil provides structure and personality, which we found in this sparkling Chardonnay and we look forward to discovering in the other Ivaldi wines one day soon.
“100 years and four generations. That is the legacy of Ivaldi,” says Sheila on VeroVino.
2018 Ivaldi “Andrea” Extra Brut Alta Langa DOCG
Winemaker Andrea Ivaldi aged this wine on the lees for 30 months, then made it sparkle using the traditional Champagne method aka Metodo Classico. “The Alta Langa spumante is a recent addition to the Italian DOCG appellations, however, it has been perfected over decades in Piedmont and is reclaiming the history of sparkling wine in the area,” says Sheila. “One more thing – the wine is called ‘Andrea’… When I was with him in January when I first met him and tasted it, he kinda joked about how it was a bit ‘egotistical’ of him to name the wine after himself.”
If this was my wine I would do it too! It’s a perfect for this quality from Champagne would be $60 or more. Very summery.
Color: Deep lemon rind yellow, lemon drop, gentle perlage
Aroma: Brioche, yeasty, fresh apples, caramel
Palate: Acidity, fresh, bright, lemon with green apple mid-palate, , almond on the finish with grapefruit pith
Pairing: Sushi! Avocado, tuna, salmon, good especially the seaweed but the crab salad roll is better. The crab becomes so much sweeter with the wine, and it makes the wine sweeter too. So delicious with the seared ahi tuna salad loaded with mango and avocado. I would love to pair with this with king crab legs, or a salad with crab.
To Try: OYSTERS would be to die for… I just couldn’t keep this wine out of my glass long enough to acquire some!
Check out these non-native Italian grapes made into wines in Italy! Read the invitation from host Martin Redmond here.
- Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla will be whipping up Deviled Eggs and a Chardonnay from Alto Adige
- Lynn of Savor the Harvest will be sharing The ‘Other’ Wine Grapes in Italy
- Linda of My Full Wine Glass will be offering us Trentino: Another option for Pinot Noir fans
- Jennifer of Vino Travels – An Italian Wine Blog will be presenting Blending the Non-Native Grapes of Puglia with the Trentatre Rosso
- Susannah of Avvinare will be contributing Oltrepo’ Pavese – Pinot Noir Reaches New Heights
- Deanna of Wineivore will be dishing up Butternut Squash Risotto Paired with Organic Merlot“
- Gwendolyn of the Wine Predator will be exploring Chardonnay Blanc de Blanc: Ivaldi’s Andrea Alta Langa DOCG #ItalianFWT
- Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm wonders An Italian Merlot? Sì, Grazie
- Host Martin Redmond will be sharing Mussels With Garlic and Parsley Paired with Cantina Terlan Kreuth Chardonnay.
The Italian Food, Wine and Travel Twitter Chat about Italian wines from non-native grapes is coming up Saturday morning August 6 at 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. Pacific. Join the conversation with host @martindredmond using the hashtag #ItalianFWT
08/06/2022 11:00 a.m. EST
Welcome to the #ItalianFWT chat on Italian Wines from Non-Native Grapes. Introduce yourself, and from where you are tweeting. Share a link to your blog if you’d like.
08/06/2022 11:05 a.m. EST
Q1 We’re talking about Italian Wines from Non-Native Grapes today. When did you first learn about international grapes like Chardonnay and Merlot being planted in Italy and bottled on their own rather than being blended with Italian grapes? #ItalianFWT
08/06/2022 11:10 a.m. EST
Q2 What wine did you pour? What grape variety and from what region in Italy? Share a link to your blog if you wrote on the topic today. #ItalianFWT
08/06/2022 11:15 a.m. EST
Q3 Tell us about the country the grape is originally from. Did the Italian wine possess the character (aromas/flavors) you expected from the grape variety based on your previous experience? Any surprises? #ItalianFWT
08/06/2022 11:20 a.m. EST
Q4 Tell us something interesting about the wine or winery that you selected. Any fun facts? Anything notable we should know? #ItalianFWT
08/06/2022 11:25 a.m. EST
Q5 What food did you pair with the wine? If so, how did the pairing turn out? Would you do it again? Share a pic or link to your blog. #ItalianFWT
08/06/2022 11:30 a.m. EST
Q6 When you decided on your food and wine pairing, did you decide on the food first or the wine? #ItalianFWT
08/06/2022 11:35 a.m. EST
Q7 Would you be interested trying more Italian wines from non-native grape varieties? If so, which ones? #ItalianFWT
08/06/2022 11:40 a.m. EST
Q8 Italian wines from international grapes seem to be on the decline as consumers and winemakers are more interested in making wines in which native varieties can shine. Your thoughts? Agree or disagree? #ItalianFWT
08/06/2022 11:45 a.m. EST
Q9 Let’s talk travel. Have you visited the region your wine is from? If not, what cities or regions in Italy are your travel wish list, and why?
08/06/2022 11:50 a.m. EST
Q10 #Winophiles Any final thoughts about Italian Wines from Non-Native Grapes? Tell us!
08/06/2022 11:55 a.m. EST
Shoutout to the #ItalianFWT bloggers who wrote about our theme this month and joined us today. Cheers! @ArtPredator @Culinary_Cam @WendyKlik @Wineivore @Vinotravels21 @linda_lbwcsw @vignetocomm @savortheharvest
08/06/2022 11:57 a.m. EST
Next month the Italian Food, Wine and Travel group will explore Sardinian Wine with @jillbarth, so keep an eye out for the invitation. #ItalianFWT
08/06/2022 12:00 p.m. EST
Thanks for joining the August #ItalianFWT chat on Italian Wines from Non-Native Grapes. Thanks to @martindredmond for supporting our intrepid Italian Food and Wine bloggers