Posted by: tomciocco | January 23, 2014

ENANTIO: THE NEW (OLD) NAME FOR AN OLD VINE

As you may have gathered by now if you’ve read more than a few of the posts on this blog, I take great delight in the viticultural roads less travelled, and this post definitely represents a path that few have ever set foot down. The place is Trentino in northeastern Italy, and to be specific, the southern extreme of the region just east of the northernmost extension of Lake Garda, a tiny growing region called Valdadige.

The grape variety “on the bench” this evening  so to speak is the vine that is now (and once was called) called “Enantio”. Just prior to the recent renaming of this variety, the moniker it carried was the big mouthful of a name “Lambrusco Frastagliata”, but because the name “Lambrusco” is not only  most closely associated with sprizty wines from Emilia-Romagna, but is also used to denominate a whole other range of completely unrelated grape varieties found all over northern Italy. So, the official decision was recently made to revert to a name given to this grape (or what is reasonably thought to be this grape) by the Roman historian Pliny, who in one of his natural histories, sung the praises of a grape he called “Oenanthiae Vitis”.

As it turns out, via recent investigations into Enantio’s DNA structure, this variety is indisputably one of the members of the sub-Alpine family of grapes that includes such varieties as Lagrein, Marzemino, Teroldego and others. And though all of the locations of the branches of this family tree have not yet been determined, it seems very likely that Enantio is more likely grandfather than father or son.

This is my first encounter with Enantio, and I have to say that it was mostly a really good one, though I do have to say that in attempting to polish the stiff tannic structure for which this grape is apparently known, a bit too much new French oak was applied to this wine, at least for my tastes, but that said, if you have any sort of palate for big, rich, “modern” wines from California or Australia or South America, this Italian rarity will hold great appeal.

I matched this soft but still strapping red with a first course of brown lentil and rice soup followed by a baked timballo di crespelle (crepe timbale) that I layered with a multi-cheese-based sauce with spinach and two kinds of ‘shrooms (Cremini and Porcini).

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Azienda Agricola Roeno di Fugatti Enantio Valdadige Terredeiforti 2008

Almost completely black/purple color. Big, forward nose of blackberry, blueberry, creme de cassis, cloves, hibiscus, black truffle, roasted herbs, cooked seaweed, pine sap and burnt orange peel, all wrapped in a notable bow of new oak. In the mouth the wine shows a full body and a chewy texture with only moderate acidity and big but well-softened tannins that frame flavors of prune, myrtle, pomegranate syrup and melted dark chocolate. Warm and fairly dry dried rose petal finish.

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