Comeback Kids

Everyone loves a good comeback story. The struggles. The failures. The eventual rising up and emotional triumph. But what about when it comes to wine? Doesn’t seem like the two have anything in common, right? Oh, but how wrong you are. Wine has been around for a long, long time. Since about 6000 BC actually, if you can wrap your brain around how long ago that actually is. This means there has been plenty of time for the cycles of decline, quasi-extinction, growth, and prosperity in wine to leave their mark throughout history. In Italy alone there are about 3500 varieties, of which only about 700 are really used to make wine. A staggering number. Furthermore in Italy, there are several autochthonous varieties that were on the verge of extinction. Thankfully, they have been slowly and lovingly brought back to life and are now thriving.

“Uve Scomparse…Ma Recuperate”, or Lost but Recovered Grapes, was another tasting I took part in during Salone del Gusto and was presented by the students of the University of Gastronomic Sciences. We tasted four wines from Piemonte, Sicily, Veneto, and Sardegna all produced from 100% recovered autochthonous varieties or a blend of recovered, native, and international varieties.

Gamba di Pernice – The Gamba di Pernice (2007) wine is produced by Tenuta dei Fiori in Piemonte from 100% Gamba di Pernice,  one of the rarest and oldest varietals native to the region. Tenuta dei Fiori has worked hard for over twenty years to protect and cultivate this variety. The winery also produces Barbera, Moscato, Dolcetto, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. Gamba di Pernice is a red wine, reflecting a rusty color with notes of tobacco and dark chocolate. Tenuta di Fiori also offers apartments and suites for holidays and organizes wine tastings, seasonal truffle hunting, cooking classes, and mountain bike rentals.  I recommend visiting the area either in the spring as many of the surrounding villages organize festivals celebrating local cuisine or in October/November to enjoy truffle season. Visit their site for more information.

Perricone –  Acamate (2010) is produced by Valdibella in Camporeale, located in the western part of Sicily. Valdibella is actually a cooperative of farmers who are committed to sustainability and creating a more stable and balanced agro-ecosystem. Although Valdibella has also planted international varieties, they focus closely on cultivating native Sicilian varietals including the lesser known Perricone as there are very few producers who still maintain this variety. The 2010 Acamate is a red wine produced from 100% Perricone and is certified bio-dynamic. The wine is intense in color with a warm, medium body. It is aromatic and spicy, not too complex, and would make a perfect everyday wine. Additionally, the winery also harvests organic olives and almonds and produces olive oil, almond milk and almond butter. For further information on Valdibella’s practices and products, head over to their site.


Perera – Sisters Antonella and Ersiliana are at the helm of the Sorelle Bronca winery, producer of Particella 68, a Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut in the heart of the Prosecco region (Veneto). This wine is produced with 90% Glera and 5% each of Bianchetto and Perera varietal using the charmat method of production. Sorelle Bronca believe in low-impact agriculture, are certified organic and bio-dynamic, and produce this prosecco without added yeasts. Particelle 68 is a semi-aromatic, young wine and the Perera lends to its fruity and aromatic nose. To discover more Sorelle Bronca wines and their olive oil, take a look at their site.

Nieddera This native varietal comes from the beautifully wild Mediterranean island of Sardegna (one of my favorite places in Italy!). This region is typically known for its other native and perhaps more popular varietal, Cannonau. Azienda Vinicola Attilio Contini, one of the oldest and most prestigious wineries in Sardegna, produces the blended red wine Mamaioa Rosso (2011), consisting of over 50% Nieddera varietal combined with Cannonau and Merlot. They also produce a rose’ and red from 100% Nieddera grapes. The Mamaioa is a new initiative for Contini in that production is realized according to the principles of integrated agriculture, which call for limited and non-invasive treatments. Mamaioa is fresh, fragrant, and young and has the possibility to be quite an interesting wine if left to evolve for a few more years. To find out more about this wine and others, head on over to Contini’s site

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