Pignoletto, Part 2: a Grechetto Gentile shopping list.
Part 1 of this article explained Pignoletto and its transformation. The grape variety is now called Grechetto Gentile. Pignoletto is now a wine from a specific, legally protected location. This Part 2 is a companion piece focusing on 18 representative examples of Pignoletto DOC and DOCG wines. These include wines available in the UK. Those only available in Italy have a “guide price” in Euro. Meanwhile, * shows my favourites.
I also bought many more bottles to try at home.
From hundreds of examples, here are 18 to try; listed by their respective categories. It’s not a definitive list, but all will give a great deal of pleasure. Most of the producers have a wide range of excellent wines, including DOC Colli Bolognesi wines, so look out for those too.
DOC Pignoletto – sparkling
Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference Spumante Brut NV. Made by Cantina Riunite CIV, an excellent value introduction to the style. Stone-fruit flavour, dry, a somewhat frothy mousse. Sainsbury’s £7.50.
Tesco’s Finest Spumante NV. Again from Cantine Riunite CIV. Lively fizz awarded an IWC Silver Medal. Quite the party animal if a little sweet. Tesco, £9.99
Cleto Chiarli* Vecchio Modena Spumante Brut NV. White flower aromatics, white fruits on the palate, full fizz and dry style with a good length. Refreshing and finishes cleanly. Best of the UK supermarket Pignoletti. Waitrose £9.99
DOC Pignoletto subzones – sparkling
Gruppo Cevico Frizzante DOC Colli d’Imola 2016. 100% Grechetto Gentile. Soft and floral aromatics, a little lime fruit, residual sugar to balances the high acidity and heading towards off-dry. Vincognito, £10.50
Sentito Extra-Dry Spumante DOC Reno 2015. Those preferring an off-dry style should try this. Well made, the balance of sugar and acidity is excellent. Buy Fine Wine, £10.98
Cavicchioli/GIV* Spumante DOC Modena NV. Full fizz, dry style. Dominated by green apples, a little herb complexity on the finish adds interest and distinction. Drinkmonger, £9.95
General guide price in Italy for DOC Pignoletto would be around €4.50. The DOC wines usually work best as an apéritif.
DOCG Colli Bolognesi Pignoletto – sparking
Isola* Cuvée Picri, Spumante 2016. 85% Grechetto Gentile plus 10% Chardonnay and 5% Riesling Italico. There’s a little creaminess from the Chardonnay and an extra aromatic dimension from the Riesling. Only 5,000 bottles made per year. €8 in Italy.
Tenuta Santa Croce* Nettuno, Spumante 2016. Lime flavoured bubbly! Brut Nature, no dosage. Rounded acidity. Terrific example. Lovely with Parmesan shavings or shellfish. €7.50 in Italy.
Il Monticino* Frizzante 2016. No malolactic fermentation, so a rapier acidity and Brut style. Try this as a match for the rich Cotoletta alla Bolognese. €8.50 in Italy.
Montevecchio Isolani* Frizzante 2016. Superb organic example. Fully dry. Green-tinged, gentle frizzante style, mouth-filling concentration. Limes and apples cut with leesy salinity and white pepper. A lovely wine, brilliant with Risotto. €9 in Italy.
Floriano Cinti* Frizzante, NV. 100% Grechetto Gentile. Dry, citrus, green apples, pears and good length. Creamy, finishing clean and crisp. Stone Vine & Sun, £11.95. €7 in Italy.
Orsi Vigneto San Vito* Frizzante Sui Lieviti 2015. 95% Grechetto Gentile. It’s is a “natural” biodynamic wine made in the ancestrale, (Pet’ Nat) style. There’s spontaneous fermentation of wild yeasts and long cool fermentation to preserve the aromatics. The second fermentation is in the crown-capped clear bottle. There’s sediment, and this should be mixed and drunk cloudy. Yellow colour, aromas and flavours of limes, bruised-apple and apricot. With yeasty funkiness and baked bread, and it’s very persistent. A superb artisanal wine, frizzante bubbles give it texture. Try this with truffles or parmesan. Tutto Wines and Noble Fine Liquor £20.00. Well worth the extra money, €10-12 in Italy.
The DOCG and low yields do offer a big step up in quality for the modest extra outlay. They are also excellent food wines, particularly with cheeses, starters and pasta.
DOCG Colli Bolognesi Pignoletto Classico Superiore – still wine (Fermo)
Fattorie Vallona* Ammestesso. Single vineyard, organic. Made without any wood yet there are hints of vanilla mixed up in bold lime fruit. Great freshness and length, creamy texture. A lustrous wine with limes on the nose and palate. Chestnut soup or porcini pasta make a good match. My favourite Fermo Pignoletto. €12 in Italy.
Tenute Santa Croce* Sit a Montuì. Single vineyard, organic, very carefully produced. Super freshness and enough complexity of fruit and minerality to get you coming back for more. Perfect with risotto. €10 in Italy.
Il Monticino* 2016. Matured on the lees with lots of stirring (battonage) to pick up additional flavours. White flower aromatics. A moreish saline edge to the apple and pear fruit. Smartly made, try it with Tortellini. €7.50 in Italy.
These still wines are delightful and show just how good Grechetto Gentile can be. Usually, they eschew wood, which lets the quality of the grape variety shine through. For me, this is Pignoletto at its very best, superb partners for Italian cuisine.
Most of the currently available UK wines are Spumante in style. Huge wineries produce large volumes using the Charmat method for supermarkets. Marketed by supermarkets, they are crowd-pleasing alternatives to Prosecco at attractive prices. Consequently, these wines have been highly successful, especially during the Christmas party season. That also means that recognition of Pignoletto in the UK is gradually increasing too.
However, that’s only the beginning of the Pignoletto story. The real glory of Pignoletto comes from the artisanal DOCG Frizzante and Fermo wines. I hope the DOCG expansion means that these exciting food-friendly wines will become more widely available here in the UK. More good UK examples of Pignoletto by Lodi Corraza, La Casetta, Bassoli and Manicardi can be found online at Tannico.
Meanwhile, get yourself to Bologna, try Pignoletto for yourself. My advice is to bring back as much as you can carry! And while you’re there, why not visit FICO.