When we say ‘native’ grapes, we refer to the hundreds of varietals only growing in Italy or originally from Italy (as opposed to international grapes such as Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay, etc.).

This month our beloved LCBO features a few Italian native grapes that you can find in the Vintages release catalogue of Saturday February 7..

Here are my picks:

  1. I am bias about the Nebbiolo grape. I love tannins and I like wines that go well with juicy recipes and lots of olive oil. Think of stews, roasted leg of lamb, minestrone with sausage or guanciale, and medium-rare steaks. Piedmonte is the region thatproduces Nebbiolo. I love its people, cuisine and vast territory that spans from the Alps to the Ligurian sea. I can’t resist organizing yearly wine tours in Piemonte!
    The two Nebbiolo-based wines featured this month (page 4) are a Barbaresco Marchesi di Barolo 2011 ($29.95) and a Barolo Beni di Batasiolo Riserva 2006 ($39.95). They are both ready to drink but you can also cellar it for a few years. They are ‘new world’ style: oak, long skin contact, and micro-oxidation.

2. Next, let’s go South! Try the Ocone Flora Falanghina on page 9 ($18.95). The aromas havea elegant concentration of aromatic flowers and lots of mineral salts from the local volcanic soil, very common for this grape. Falanghina is only produced in the Campania regions (Sannio wine area) and surrounding towns. This release is a rare occasion to sample it.

3. Never underestimate Puglia wines! A must-have in your cellar and at your table. Of course, Primitivo is the usual suspect that lines the shelves of our local wine stores. For a change, try the Negroamaro (page 17). The two wines Resta 2011 ($15.95) and Feudi Salentini 125 2012 ($14.95), are both well-priced and well-balanced. Enjoy with pork chops or orecchiette pasta with ragu — game ragu, if you can!