"Italy surpasses all other countries in the number of grape varieties."
...Burton Anderson, The Wine Atlas of Italy
The Rest of the Story
More and more of those Italian varietals are making their way to
California. My panel tried a number of the Golden State versions, and
these six topped the tasting.
6th - Tocai Friulano (tow-kie free-oo-lan-oh)—A leading white-wine
grape of northeast Italy that makes light, crisp wines to be drunk young.
'96 Robert Pepi Tocai Friulano, Central Coast,
5th—Sangiovese (sahn-joh-VAY-zeh)—The grape that dominates
Italy's best-known red wine, Chianti...light, fresh.
4th—Barbera (bahr-BEAR-ah)—As far back as 1967 my students
were clamoring for a greater California production of this very drinkable
red. Today, plantings are increasing considerably.
- Pinot Grigio (pee-noh GREE-joh)—Makes a very spunky white
with more pizzaz than an unoaked Chardonnay.
2nd—Charbono (shar-BOH-noh)—Origins are murky, but this
full-bodied red isn't. This example is by John Richburg, who probably
has more experience with this grape in California than any other winemaker
(he made it for decades at Inglenook).
Winner—Another Sangiovese - My panel loved the cherry-berry
'94 William Wheeler Sangiovese, California,
$19 (Owned by Boisett, U.S.A.).
Areas of countries (sq. miles):
Which one of these three countries is the world's largest wine producer?
Answer: The smallest, Italy!