Italy is one of the most varied wine countries in the world, particularly because they have so many indigenous varietals – over 6000! There are no generalizations to be made, especially in a country where climates and soil are so varied from one section to another. Italian wine labeling doesn’t necessarily make things any clearer, since sometimes the name of the grape is used and sometimes it isn’t. Mauro Cirilli, native of Venice and current Wine Director at Press Club in San Francisco, recently helped us break it down in Wine School at SFWC.
The most interesting and compelling lesson of the evening came courtesy of a delicious Cannonau red from Sardinia, which is their local name for Grenache or Garnacha. Guests that evening loved this incredible wine for its earthy and funky qualities, and this one didn’t disappoint with its barnyard, herbs, mushrooms and long finish. But then Mauro dropped some serious knowledge on us by explaining that recent DNA analysis performed on fossilized Cannonau seeds had shown the grape’s existence in Sardinia predated what was previously thought to be its earliest discovery in Spain. So Grenache/Garnacha/Cannonau is actually now known to also be an indigenous variety of Italy. Sorry France and Spain, we love ya but this one goes in the Italy column now!