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If you’re on the lookout for new, exotic wines to impress guests at your next dinner party, look no further than these crisp, earthy varietals from Northern Italy.

Thanks to young, adventurous winemakers in Italy, France, Greece, Spain, and elsewhere, we’re now discovering long-lost grapes that have been forgotten and are now expanding our taste horizons.

Here are the top picks of the ‘forgotten’ grapes blowing traditional flavours out of the barrel.

  

WHITES

Pecorino

Pecorino is one of the country's wine success stories of the 21st century. With a flavour reminiscent of the spicy pecorino cheese, the wine variety boasts a crisp, structured taste, with perfect balance of acidity. Though popular in the 19th Century, it was once abandoned in favour of varieties that produce bigger grape yields. Pecorino has experienced a modern resurgence, rising again to popularity in the early 80s, particularly in the regions for which it is known: Marche, Abruuzzio, Umbria, Tuscany and Liguria.

Try it for yourself. Explore the likes of Velenosi Offida Pecorino DOCG Villa Angela, Villa Medoro Pecodino DOC and Tenute Barone di Valforte Pecorino IGP.

Fiano

Grown in the Campania region of Southern Italy, Fiano is a strong-flavoured white Italian grape variety. Fiano is considered to be a “classical vine”, with origins that date back as far as ancient Roman viticulture, and perhaps even by the Greeks before them. The small, thick-skinned grapes usually produce quite little juice, so the variety has a propensity for relatively low yields. The wine has a distinct nutty, herbal flavouring and pairs well with seafood and pasta dishes.

Discover bottles by Fattoria I Collazzi, Feudi di San Gregorio and Planeta.

Ribolla Gialla

Prominent in the North-Eastern regions of Italy, Ribolla Gialla grapes are characterised by their firm acidity, citrus and apple notes with faint hints of floral aromas. Ribolla Gialla is distinctly yellow in colour when ripe, and produces a light, fresh white made for early drinking.

Explore varieties by Eugenio Collavini and Le Monde.

 

REDS

Albarossa

Albarossa is a crossing of the Nebbiolo and Barbera grape varieties, bringing together the best qualities of both in production of a rich, spicy flavour. Grown primarily in Piedmont, Albarossa pairs well with hearty meals like stews, rich pastas and earthy flavours like mushroom.

Serve it alongside your next meal, see the bottle by Marenco.

Nerello Mascalese

Made from a dark-skinned grape that grows commonly on the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily, Nerello Mascalese has a fresh, perfumed and earthy flavouring, similar to that pinot, but with a wilder taste. The volcanic soils and high altitudes produce wines with immense character and complexity, but with a lightness that’s characteristic of higher altitude varieties.

Try Carlo Pellegrino and Planeta.

Ruché

Produced in limited quantities in northern Italy, Ruche is a fruity and approachable drop made to be enjoyed with cured meats, aged cheeses and truffles. Another wine experiencing somewhat of a resurgence, Ruche fits the current demand for light to medium-bodied reds that can be served lightly chilled. The little tannin content means it’s a wine meant to be drunk young – so go on, pour yourself a glass!

Get your hands on some of your own. Discover the range from Montalbera.