2015 Italian Harvest Report

by Carl Camasta

The 2015 Italian harvest is in the books, or should I say, in the cellar. And by all accounts it was amazing. In spite of an unusually hot and dry growing season and an earlier than usual harvest, every region reported better than average quality. But the biggest news is that the overall volume of wine exceeded all other countries. Italy is once again the number one wine producer in the world. Perennial powerhouses, France and Spain, finished second and third, respectively.

This is no minor accomplishment, since last year France produced about 20% more wine than Italy. The dry climate seemed to benefit the Italians as they saw their production increase by 13% while the French struggled to duplicate last year’s numbers and, in the end, saw a 1% decrease.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture’s Maurizio Martina, “Italy is declared the home of wine, and is once again the leader in winemaking! Our land has given us an extraordinary gift of over 500 wine varieties and we will continue to support the all the hard work our winemakers have put in over the year. We are determined to support and exceed the export of wine even more, which already makes over five million euro in annual exports.”

Sandro Boscaini, President of Federvini, one of the most important wine institutions of Italy added, “2015 is also proving to be a great year in wine sales and exports. In spite of a market, which is problematic, export sales have grown everywhere, with the exceptions of Russia.”

The largest increase in production seems to be coming from Tuscany, Sicily and Puglia. All three regions have also seen double digit increases in exports. Hopefully, the increased production and the strength of the dollar will lead an increase in high quality wines at affordable prices.

Here are a couple of wines from those regions that already meet that criteria….Godere!

I Messapi Primitivo di Manduria Region: Puglia Price: $16.99
Primitivo is the most well-known grape in Apulia. And the Manduria appellation yields some of the best expressions of Primitivo. Often compared to California Zinfandel, Primitivo is a dark, juicy red wine with soft tannins and berry-like flavors. Great with tomato based pasta dishes and aged cheese.

Leone de Castris Salice Salentino Region: Puglia Price $14.99
Salice Salentino is produced from Negroamaro grapes that are grown near the town of Salice on the Salento peninsula. The aroma is full of dark berries and vanilla. On the palate it is full and dry with a touch of earthiness and spice. A great wine for grilled steaks or roasted meats.

Carpineto Dogajolo Toscano Rosso Region: Tuscany Price: $12.99
This is one of my “Go-To” wines. A Sangiovese base wine with a touch of Cabernet and Merlot. It spends a short time in oak barrels and is released about a year after the vintage. The wine has aromas of cherry and spice and is soft and easy to drink. It is one of those wines you can drink on its own but, pairs nicely with pizza, pastas, and burgers.

Terre di Bruca Nero d’Avola “Quaranta” Region: Sicily Price: $14.99
This winery is located in the hills outside of Palermo. When you swirl this wine the aromas of ripe cherries will almost jump from the glass. The cherry flavors are accented with a touch of black pepper and balanced with good acidity and soft tannins. It is perfect for grilled tuna, roast chicken, roast pork, and pasta with tomato based sauces.

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