Italy has been famous for its wine and wine-makers since Roman times. Today that tradition continues as every region in Italy produces wine. In fact, the country of Italy has over one million acres of vineyards under cultivation, most remarkably indicating how much Italians love their wine.
Each region is special for a certain type of wine. Each type of wine enhances and complements the food of its region. Among the many appellations of Italy, are the wines of Tuscany and Piedmont, surely the most famous and sought-after. Wine-lovers the world over crave the renowned Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello di Montalcino, the famed Killer B’s of Italy’s heartland.
What makes these wines so special? First, they are all reds, and not just any reds. Each of these reds from Tuscany and Piedmont regions reflects what is best and most characteristic of the wines of Italy. Though made from different varieties of grapes, each is lusty, rich and dark. Like all Italian red wines, these varieties are made to go with food, tempting and gently caressing the palate in the consumption of fine Italian cuisine.
Brunello di Montalcino, the first of the Killer B’s, is born of the sangiovese grape, the pride of Italy in the gently undulating Tuscan countryside. By law, the wine must be aged for 2 years in oak and at least 4 months in the bottle. Traditionally made, the wines are full of cherry fruit, earth, and cedar. Among the most expensive of all Italian wines, Brunello must be 100% sangiovese grape. Its dark, fruity taste goes best with grilled meat and game, making it a favorite in steakhouse restaurants. In fact, one-third of all Brunello is exported to the United States where it is wildly popular.
The nebbiolo grape, meaning “little fog”, is notoriously difficult to cultivate, but finds its true home in the Piedmont area of northern Italy where the renowned Barolo and Barbaresco wines are produced. Traditionally-produced Barolo can age for fifty years-plus, and is regarded by many wine enthusiasts as the greatest wine of Italy. Barolo is often described as having the aromas of tar and roses; the wines are noted for their ability to age and usually take on a rust red tinge as they mature. When subjected to aging of at least five years before release, the wine can be labeled a Riserva. Barolo is a powerful wine and can overwhelm delicate foods. In its home region of Piedmont, Barolo complements heavy meat dishes, thick risottos and rich pasta entrées.
Vineyards producing Barbaresco, may be a scant 10 miles from those of the Barolo variety, and though they share many similarities, they are distinctly different. Touched with a gently maritime influence, Barbaresco grapes ripen earlier than the Barolos, so are less tannic. This means they require less time to age, up to a year less, and tend to come to full fruition at an earlier age than the harsher Barolo. Both complement the same robust dishes.
Wine-lovers the world over turn to these famous Italian wines for the most satisfying accompaniment to not only Italian cuisine, but any hearty meal. The rich, dark and smooth taste of each of these Killer B’s tends to leave a memory that is not soon forgotten. For this memory, aficionados turn time and again to these fine wines, the end product of more than 2000 years of Italian wine-making.