ISOLE E OLENA - CHIANTI CLASICO (TOSCANA - ITALIA)
Isole e Olena is a winery estate in the Chianti Classico wine region in Tuscany made up of two farms, Isole and Olena purchased by the De Marchi family in the 1950. Paolo de Marchi, the current manager/owner is the fourth generation of his family to be involved in the business of making great wines. Paolo was raised in Piemonte, but he always held dear the family property in Tuscany.
Paolo, himself an enologist, with the help of enologist Donato Lanati, has created some of the regions top wines. The estate Isole e Olena has not only the indigenous Sangiovese grape for making Chianti Classico, but has international grape varietals as well including Cabarnet Sauvignon, Syrah and Chardonnay. Isole e Olena Cepparello is Paolo’s flagship wine, introduced in 1980, a pure Sangiovese wine which set the standard for the pure Sangiovese movement.
Isole e Olena wines include: Isole e Olena Cepparello IGT, Isole e Olena Chianti Classico DOCG, Isole e Olena Syrah IGT, Isole e Olena Cabarnet Sauvignon IGT, and Isole e Olena Toscana L’Eremo IGT.
- Region: Tuscany, Italy
- Appellation: Chianti Classico DOCG
- Winemaker: Paolo De March
- Phone: 055 80 72 763 - 055 80 72 283.
- Address: Località Isole, 1 Barberino V.E. I-50021 Firenze
- E-mail: email@example.com
- GPS Coordinates: N 43° 30.279’ E 11° 14.240’
- Directions from Firenze: In Firenze Impruneta take the “Superstrada" (main highway) towards Siena. Then exit at San Donato in Poggio (4th exit), go left towards Castellina/San Donato. Pass San Donato to Castellina in Chianti/Siena. About 3 km beyond San Donato, take a right (signs Monsanto/Olena). After about 1km, at the fork keep left towards Monsanto and climb the hill, then down hill until you will see a little chapel to the right and the entrance of the estate to the left, right in front of the chapel.
- Directions from Siena: From Siena take the “Superstrada” in the direction of Firenze. Exit San Donato in Poggio, turn right, pass San Donato in the direction of Castellina in Chianti/Siena. About 3 km past San Donato take a right (signs Monsanto/Olena). After about 1 km, at the fork keep the left towards Monsanto and climb the hill, then down hill until you will see a little chapel to the right and the entrance of the estate to the left, right in front of the chapel.
- History: The name ‘Isole e Olena’ came about in the 1950s when the De Marchi family purchased and combined two adjoining estates, ‘Isole’ and ‘Olena’, each of which dated back hundreds of years. The estate is located in the heart of the Chianti Classico region at the midway point between Siena and Florence. Fourth-generation winemaker Paolo De Marchi studied Agriculture at the University of Turin and worked several harvests in California and France. When he first arrived at the family estate in 1976 from his home in Piemonte, he found much need for improvement and modernization in the Chianti Classico region. One of the initial projects involved planting single vineyards of international varieties. Through these advances, Paolo ultimately discovered a way to balance tradition with innovation.
(Paolo's) pride in his estate, on the western side of the Chianti Classico zone, is evident at every turn of the road... As we tour the vineyards or taste the wines, there is one theme to which De Marchi returns again and again: the typicity of Chianti. It is, for him, more than a philosophical or stylistic debate. It has to do with the relation of wine to the land on which the vines are grown. Stephen Brook (Decanter, May 2006).
- Viticulture: Perched atop the hillsides of western Chianti Classico, just north of the village of Castellina, Isole e Olena lays claim to some of the most prized vineyards in the region. Its 50 ha of vines reach altitudes of about 400 m above sea level and receive an average of 35 inches of rainfall annually. The soils consist of a mix of limestone, clay slate and sandstone, which allow for sufficient drainage in times of heavy rain and retain moisture during droughts. For the past 25 years, the estate has experienced an extensive replanting project including research on clonal selection, density of planting, soil mapping and vineyard management techniques.
Proprietor Paolo De Marchi has left an indelible and highly personal stamp on Isole e Olena, and all of Chianti Classico for that matter... De Marchi stands apart from many of his colleagues for his vocal opinions and intense dedication to the vineyard above all else. Since taking over his family’s estate... De Marchi has transformed Isole e Olena into a powerhouse. Antonio Galloni (Wine Advocate, June 2012).
- Vinification: For Paolo, showcasing the “typicity of Chianti” is more than simply a philosophical or stylistic debate. As a winemaker, his number one priority is to connect the wines to the land where the vines are grown. Through this hands-off approach to winemaking, these wines are uniquely known for linking a freshness to a contrasting intensity, depth and longevity. In 1980, Paolo pioneered his flagship wine, Cepparello, made from 100% Sangiovese. This wine has been classified as a “Super Tuscan”, as it violates the traditional Chianti Classico regulations that include a white grape variety into the final blend. As a result of Paolo’s successful technique, this wine set the standard for the pure Sangiovese movement.
“De Marchi concedes that in his career he has learned some things, but they often lead to more questions. ‘As you get better,’ he explains, ‘the target moves.”’ Robert Camuto, The Wine Spectator.
ISOLE E OLENA WINES
- Isole e Olena Chardonnay: Initially, Paolo planted Chardonnay to blend with Trebbiano and Malvasia but later discovered how great the grape showed on its own. In 2007, he replanted Chardonnay vines over a block that was previously planted with Trebbiano. The wine is a blend of five Burgundy clones that are selected for their freshness since that is a crucial component for warm weather. The vineyard sits on a northeast facing slope, where it catches the morning sun but remains relatively cool otherwise. The wine is barrel fermented (1/3 new French oak), undergoes partial malolactic fermentation and batonnage (stirring of the lees) to smooth out any rough edges produced by the wine’s intense citrus fruit and acidity.
- Isole e Olena Chianti Classico: A blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and a pinch of Syrah, which is added depending on the vintage. Estate-grown, hand-harvested grapes are fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks with approximately 15 days of maceration. During fermentation, racking and pumpovers takes place twice a day. After malolactic fermentation, the wine is racked into barrels and 4,000 liter casks where it matures for about one year.
- Isole e Olena Cepparello: The flagship wine consists of 100% Sangiovese aged in French oak barrels. Over the years, Paolo has refined his Cepparello by giving it more air during vinification and increasing time spent in oak from 12-14 months to 18-20 months. Although De Marchi started focusing on the use of better quality oak around 1993, it is the increased age of the vineyards themselves that have given Cepparello its overall finesse. The wine is made from a top selection of the estate’s best fruits from the vineyards in Barberino Val d’Elsa in the northern part of Chianti Classico.
- Isole e Olena Cabernet Sauvignon Collezione de Marchi: Estate-grown, hand-harvested fruit is left to macerate on the skins for approximately four weeks. During this time, racking and pumpovers occur twice a day. After completing malolactic fermentation, the wine is racked into barrel. The wine is 100% barrel aged – 40% new oak (80% French and 20% American) for 24 months. The wine is released two years after bottling and has up to 15 years aging potential.
- Isole e Olena Syrah Collezione De Marchi: The first Syrah vines at Isole e Olena were grafted onto old Canaiolo vines in 1984. Paolo De Marchi’s original intention was to use Syrah in the Chianti Classico blend together with Sangiovese and Canaiolo. The 1984 Chianti Classico DOCG regulations permitted the addition of 10% of a non-traditional grape variety, which resulted in many producers adding Cabernet Sauvignon to the blend. De Marchi was more interested in Syrah and was so satisfied with his results that in 1987 he planted a new 2 ha vineyard with Syrah clones from Rhone Valley, France. Today, the Syrah vines are planted on 3 ha. Grapes are 100% destemmed and fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with ten days maceration on the skins. Racking and pumpovers take place once a day. The wine spends one year in barrel (25% new – both French and American oak) and remains two years in bottle before release.
- Isole e Olena Chianti Classico Gran Selezione: Blend of 80% Sangiovese, 12% Cabernet Franc and 8% Syrah. Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc grapes are fermented in open top oak vats, undergoing three to four weeks of maceration. The Syrah undergoes a short pre-fermentation cold soak in stainless steel with two weeks of maceration before it is pressed into barrels. The Isole e Olena Gran Selezione ages for two years in French barriques and two years in oak casks prior to bottling.
- Isole e Olena Vin Santo: 65% Malvasia del Chianti, 35% Trebbiano. Estate-grown, hand-harvested grapes are dried for 3-5 months before pressing, after which the must is racked into ‘caratelli’ (small barrels of varying composition) where it ferments and ages for five years before bottling. The wine remains on the ‘madre’ or starter culture for the entire aging/fermentation period and is neither racked nor filtered. The resulting wine comprises of only 12% to 15% of the initial yield.
A Chianti wine Italian pronunciation: ['kjanti] is any wine produced in the Chianti region, in central Tuscany, Italy. It was historically associated with a squat bottle enclosed in a straw basket, called a fiasco ("flask"; pl. fiaschi); however, the fiasco is only used by a few makers of the wine now; most Chianti is now bottled in more standard shaped wine bottles. Baron Bettino Ricasoli (later Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Italy) created the Chianti recipe of 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo and 15% Malvasia bianca in the middle of the nineteenth century.
The first definition of a wine-area called Chianti was made in 1716. It described the area near the villages of Gaiole, Castellina and Radda; the so-called Lega del Chianti and later Provincia del Chianti (Chianti province). In 1932 the Chianti area was completely re-drawn and divided in seven sub-areas: Classico, Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colline Pisane, Colli Senesi, Montalbano and Rùfina. Most of the villages that in 1932 were suddenly included in the new Chianti Classico area added in Chianti to their name-such as Greve in Chianti which amended its name in 1972. Wines labelled "Chianti Classico" come from the biggest sub-area of Chianti, that includes the original Chianti heartland. Only Chianti from this sub-zone may boast the black rooster seal (known in Italian as a gallo nero) on the neck of the bottle, which indicates that the producer of the wine is a member of the Chianti Classico Consortium, the local association of producers. Other variants, with the exception of Rufina from the north-east side of Florence and Montalbano in the south of Pistoia, originate in the respective named provinces: Siena for the Colli Senesi, Florence for the Colli Fiorentini, Arezzo for the Colli Aretini and Pisa for the Colline Pisane. In 1996 part of the Colli Fiorentini sub-area was renamed Montespertoli.
During the 1970s producers started to reduce the quantity of white grapes in Chianti. In 1995 it became legal to produce a Chianti with 100% Sangiovese. For a wine to retain the name of Chianti, it must be produced with at least 80% Sangiovese grapes. Aged Chianti (38 months instead of 4–7), may be labelled as Riserva. Chianti that meets more stringent requirements (lower yield, higher alcohol content and dry extract) may be labelled as Chianti Superiore, although Chianti from the "Classico" sub-area is not allowed in any event to be labelled as "Superiore".
- Chianti subregions: The Chianti region covers a vast area of Tuscany and includes within its boundaries several overlapping Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) regions. Other well known Sangiovese-based Tuscan wines such as Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano could be bottled and labeled under the most basic designation of "Chianti" if their producers chose to do so. Within the collective Chianti region more than 8 million cases of wines classified as DOC level or above are produced each year. Today, most Chianti falls under two major designations of Chianti DOCG, which includes basic level Chianti, as well as that from seven designated sub-zones, and Chianti Classico DOCG. Together, these two Chianti zones produce the largest volume of DOC/G wines in Italy.
The Chianti DOCG covers all the Chianti wine and includes a large stretch of land encompassing the western reaches of the province of Pisa near the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Florentine hills in the province of Florence to the north, to the province of Arezzo in the east and the Siena hills to the south. Within this regions are vineyards that overlap the DOCG regions of Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Any Sangiovese-based wine made according to the Chianti guidelines from these vineyards can be labelled and marked under the basic Chianti DOCG should the producer wish to use the designation.
Within the Chianti DOCG there are eight defined sub-zones that are permitted to affix their name to the wine label. Wines that are labeled as simply Chianti are made either from a blend from these sub-zones or include grapes from peripheral areas not within the boundaries of a sub-zone. The sub-zones are (clockwise from the north): the Colli Fiorentini which is located south of the city of Florence; Chianti Rufina in the northeastern part of the zone located around the commune of Rufina; Classico in the centre of Chianti, across the provinces of Florence and Siena; Colli Aretini in the Arezzo province to the east; Colli Senesi south of Chianti Classico in the Siena hills, which is the largest of the sub-zones and includes the Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano areas; Colline Pisane, the westernmost sub-zone in the province of Pisa; Montespertoli located within the Colli Fiorentini around the commune of Montespertoli; Montalbano in the north-west part of the zone which includes the Carmignano DOCG. As of 2006, there were 318 hectares (786 acres) under production in Montalbano, 905 ha (2,236 acres) in the Colli Fiorentini, 57 ha (140 acres) in Montespertoli, 740 ha (1,840 acres) in Rufina, 3,550 ha (8,780 acres) in the Colli Senesi, 150 ha (380 acres) in Colline Pisane, 649 ha (1,603 acres) in the Colli Aretini, and an additional 10,324 ha (25,511 acres) in the peripheral areas that do not fall within one of the sub-zone classifications. Wines produced from these vineyards are labelled simply "Chianti".
- Chianti Classico: The original area dictated by the edict of Cosimo III de' Medici would eventually be considered the heart of the modern "Chianti Classico" subregion. As of 2006, there were 7,140 ha (17,640 acres) of vineyards in the Chianti Classico subregion. The Chianti Classico subregion covers an area of approximate 260 km2 (100 square miles) between the city of Florence to the north and Siena to the south. The four communes of Castellina in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti, Greve in Chianti and Radda in Chianti are located entirely within the boundaries of the Classico area with parts of Barberino Val d'Elsa, San Casciano in Val di Pesa and Tavarnelle Val di Pesa in the province of Florence as well as Castelnuovo Berardenga and Poggibonsi in the province of Siena included within the permitted boundaries of Chianti Classico. The soil and geography of this subregion can be quite varied, with altitudes ranging from 250 to 610 m (820 to 2,000 feet), and rolling hills producing differing macroclimates. There are two main soil types in the area: a weathered sandstone known as alberese and a bluish-gray chalky marlstone known as galestro. The soil in the north is richer and more fertile with more galestro, with the soil gradually becoming harder and stonier with more albarese in the south. In the north, the Arno river can have an influence on the climate, keeping the temperatures slightly cooler, an influence that diminishes further south in the warmer Classico territory towards Castelnuovo Berardenga.
Chianti Classico are premium Chianti wines that tend to be medium-bodied with firm tannins and medium-high to high acidity. Floral, cherry and light nutty notes are characteristic aromas with the wines expressing more notes on the mid-palate and finish than at the front of the mouth. As with Bordeaux, the different zones of Chianti Classico have unique characteristics that can be exemplified and perceived in some wines from those areas. According to Master of Wine Mary Ewing-Mulligan, Chianti Classico wines from the Castellina area tend to have a very delicate aroma and flavor, Castelnuovo Berardegna wines tend to be the most ripe and richest tasting, wines from Gaiole tend to have been characterized by their structure and firm tannins while wines from the Greve area tend to have very concentrated flavours.
The production of Chianti Classico is realised under the supervision of Consorzio del Vino Chianti Classico, a union of producers in the Chianti Classico subregion. The Consorzio was founded with the aim of promoting the wines of the subregion, improving quality and preventing wine fraud. Since the 1980s, the foundation has sponsored extensive research into the viticultural and winemaking practice of the Chianti Classico area, particularly in the area of clonal research. In the last three decades, more than 50% of the vineyards in the Chianti Classico subregion have been replanted with improved Sangiovese clones and modern vineyard techniques as part of the Consorzio Chianti Classico's project "Chianti 2000".
In 2014 a new category of Chianti Classico was introduced: Chianti Classico Gran Selezione. Gran Selezione is made exclusively from a winery’s own grapes grown according to stricter regulations compared to regular Chianti Classico. Gran Selezione is granted to a Chianti Classico after it passes a suitability test conducted by authorized laboratories and after it is approved by a special tasting committee.
- Greater Chianti region: Outside of the Chianti Classico area, the wines of the Chianti sub-zone of Rufina are among the most widely recognized and exported from the Chianti region. Located in the Arno valley near the town of Pontassieve, the Rufina region includes much area in the Pomino region, an area that has a long history of wine production. The area is noted for the cool climate of its elevated vineyards located up to 900 m (2,950 feet). The vineyard soils of the area are predominantly marl and chalk. The Florentine merchant families of the Antinori and Frescobaldi own the majority of the vineyards in Rufina. Chianti from the Rufina area is characterized by its multi-layered complexity and elegance.
The Colli Fiorentini subregion has seen an influx of activity and new vineyard development in recent years as wealthy Florentine business people move to the country to plant vineyards and open wineries. Many foreign "flying winemakers" have had a hand in this development, bringing global viticulture and winemaking techniques to the Colli Fiorentini. Located in the hills between the Chianti Classico area and Arno valley, the wines of the Colli Fiorentini vary widely depending on producer, but tend to have a simple structure with strong character and fruit notes. The Montespertoli sub-zone was part of the Colli Fiorentini sub-zone until 2002 when it became its own tiny enclave.
The Montalbano subregion is located in the shadow of the Carmignano DOCG, with much of the best Sangiovese going to that wine. A similar situation exists in the Colli Senesi which includes the well known DOCG region of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Both regions rarely appear on wine labels that are exported out of Tuscany. The Colli Pisane area produces typical Chiantis with the lightest body and color. The Colli Aretini is a relatively new and emerging area that has seen an influx of investment and new winemaking in recent years.
- Grapes and classification: Since 1996 the blend for Chianti and Chianti Classico has been 75–100% Sangiovese, up to 10% Canaiolo and up to 20% of any other approved red grape variety such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot or Syrah. Since 2006, the use of white grape varieties such as Malvasia and Trebbiano have been prohibited in Chianti Classico. Chianti Classico must have a minimum alcohol level of at least 12% with a minimum of 7 months aging in oak, while Chianti Classico's labeled riserva must be aged at least 24 months at the winery, with a minimum alcohol level of at least 12.5%. The harvest yields for Chianti Classico are restricted to no more than 7.5 t/ha (3 tonnes per acre). For basic Chianti, the minimum alcohol level is 11.5% with yields restricted to 9 t/ha (4 tonnes per acre).
The aging for basic Chianti DOCG is much less stringent with most varieties allowed to be released to the market on 1 March following the vintage year. The sub-zones of Colli Fiorentini, Montespertoli and Rufina must be aged for a further three months and not released until 1 June. All Chianti Classicos must be held back until 1 October in the year following the vintage.
Jancis Robinson notes that Chianti is sometimes called the "Bordeaux of Italy". The flexibility in the blending recipe for Chianti accounts for some of the variability in styles among Chiantis. Lighter bodied styles will generally have a higher proportion of white grape varieties blended in, while Chiantis that have only red grape varieties will be fuller and richer. While only 15% of Cabernet Sauvignon is permitted in the blend, the nature of the grape variety can have a dominant personality in the Chianti blend and be a strong influence in the wine.
Chianti Classico wines are characterized in their youth by their predominantly floral and cinnamon spicy bouquet. As the wine ages, aromas of tobacco and leather can emerge. Chiantis tend to have medium-high acidity and medium tannins. The acidity in the wines make them very flexible with food and wine pairings, particularly with Italian cuisines that feature red sauce, as well as with beef, lamb and game. Basic level Chianti is often characterized by its juicy fruit notes of cherry, plum and raspberry and can range from simple quaffing wines to those approaching the level of Chianti Classico. Wine expert Tom Stevenson notes that these basic everyday-drinking Chiantis are at their peak drinking qualities often between three and five years after vintage with premium examples having the potential to age for four to eight years. Well-made examples of Chianti Classico often have the potential to age and improve in the bottle for six to twenty years.
- Chianti Superiore: Chianti Superiore is an Italian DOCG wine produced in the provinces of Arezzo, Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena, in Tuscany. Superiore is a specification for wines produced with a stricter rule of production than other Chianti wines. Chianti Superiore has been authorized since 1996. Chianti Superiore wines can be produced only from grapes cultivated in the Chianti wine areas except from those vineyards that are registered in the Chianti Classico sub-zone. Vineyards registered in Chianti sub-zones other than Classico can produce Chianti Superiore wines but must omit the sub-zone name on the label. Aging is calculated from 1 January after the picking. Chianti Superiore cannot be sold to the consumer before nine months of aging, of which three must be in the bottle. Therefore, it cannot be bottled before the June after picking or sold to consumers before the next September.
- Special editions: Chianti Classico was promoted as the “Official wine of the 2013 UCI Road World Championships” and sold bottles dedicated to the Championships with special labels.
Super Tuscans are an unofficial category of Tuscan wines, not recognized within the Italian wine classification system. Although an extraordinary amount of wines claim to be “the first Super Tuscan,” most would agree that this credit belongs to Sassicaia, the brainchild of marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta, who planted Cabernet Sauvignon at his Tenuta San Guido estate in Bolgheri back in 1944. It was for many years the marchese’s personal wine, until, starting with the 1968 vintage, it was released commercially in 1971. The growth of Super Tuscans is also rooted in the restrictive DOC practices of the Chianti zone prior to the 1990s. During this time Chianti could be composed of no more than 70% Sangiovese and had to include at least 10% of one of the local white wine grapes. Producers who deviated from these regulations could not use the Chianti name on their wine labels and would be classified as vino da tavola - Italy's lowest wine designation. By the 1970s, the consumer market for Chianti wines was suffering and the wines were widely perceived to be lacking quality. Many Tuscan wine producers thought they could produce a better quality wine if they were not hindered by the DOC regulations.
The marchese Piero Antinori was one of the first to create a "Chianti-style" wine that ignored the DOC regulations, releasing a 1971 Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon blend known as Tignanello in 1978. He was inspired by Sassicaia, of which he was given the sale agency by his uncle Mario Incisa della Rocchetta. Other producers followed suit and soon the prices for these Super Tuscans were consistently beating the prices of some of most well known Chianti. Rather than rely on name recognition of the Chianti region, the Super Tuscan producers sought to create a wine brand that would be recognizable on its own merits by consumers. By the late 1980s, the trend of creating high quality non-DOC wines had spread to other regions of Tuscany, as well as Piedmont and Veneto. Modification to the Chianti DOC regulation attempted to "correct" the issues of Super Tuscans, so that many of the original Super Tuscans would now qualify as standard DOC/G Chianti. Most producers have brought their Super Tuscans back under legal regulations, notably since the creation of the less restrictive IGT Toscana designation in 1992 and the DOC Bolgheri designation in 1994, while the pioneer Sassicaia was prized with its own exclusive Bolgheri Sassicaia Doc.
In addition to wines based on the Sangiovese grape, many well known Super Tuscans are based on a "Bordeaux-blend", meaning a combination of grapes typical for Bordeaux (esp. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot). These grapes are not originally from the region, but imported and planted later. The climate in Tuscany has proven to be very good for these grapes.
While Tuscany is not the only Italian region to make the passito dessert wine Vin Santo (meaning "holy wine"), the Tuscan versions of the wine are well regarded and sought for by wine consumers. The best-known version is from the Chianti Classico and is produced with a blend of Trebbiano and Malvasia Bianca. Red and rosé styles are also produced mostly based on the Sangiovese grape. The wines are aged in barrels for a minimum of three years, four if it is meant to be a Riserva.
Vin Santo is made in Tuscany from hand-picked grapes that are hung from the rafters to dry. They are fermented in small cigar-shaped barrels called caratelli, and then aged in the caratelli for up to ten years in the roof of the winery. The wine develops a deep golden or amber color, and a sweet, often nutty, taste. Vin Santo is often served as 'Cantucci e Vin Santo', with almond or hazelnut biscuits which are then dipped in the wine.
PASSITO (STRAW OR RAISIN WINE)
Straw wine, or raisin wine, is a wine made from grapes that have been dried to concentrate their juice. The result is similar to that of the ice wine process, but suitable for warmer climates. The classic method dries clusters of grapes on mats of straw in the sun, but some regions dry them under cover, on roofs, or on modern racks, while some hang up the grapes or leave them to dry on the vine. The technique dates back to pre-Roman times, and most production of these wines has been in Northern Italy, Greece, and the French Alps. However producers in other areas are now starting to experiment with the method.
Straw wines are typically sweet to very sweet white wines, similar in density and sweetness to Sauternes and capable of long life. The low yields and labour-intensive production method means that they are quite expensive. Around Verona red grapes are dried, and are fermented in two different ways to make a dry red wine (Amarone) and a sweet red wine (Recioto della Valpolicella).
- History: A dried grape wine known as the Cypriot Manna was described in 800 BC by the Greek poet Hesiod. Similar principles were used to make the medieval Cypriot wine Commandaria, which is still produced today. Various Mediterranean raisin wines were described in the first century AD by Columella and Pliny the Elder. Pliny uses the Greek term for honey wine for the following raisin wine, "The grapes are left on the vine to dry in the sun...It is made by drying grapes in the sun, and then placing them for seven days in a closed place upon hurdles, some seven Feet from the ground, care being taken to protect them at night from the dews: on the eighth day they are trodden out: this method, it is said, produces a liquor of exquisite bouquet and flavour. The liquor known as melitites is also one of the sweet wines." Columella discusses the Passum wine made in ancient Carthage. The modern Italian name for this wine, passito, echoes this ancient word, as does the French word used to describe the process of producing straw wines, passerillage. Perhaps the closest thing to passum is Moscato Passito di Pantelleria from Zibibbo, a variety of the ancient muscat grape, produced on Pantelleria, an island in the Strait of Sicily (50 miles from Tunisia) opposite to where Carthage used to be.