Last month I had the opportunity to participate in a webinar hosted by Susannah Gold, Oltrepò Pavese Brand Ambassador, Vinitaly International Italian Wine Ambassador, and founder and owner of Vigneto Communications. I knew little to nothing about Oltrepò Pavese before Susannah’s presentation. Now, after learning more about Oltrepò Pavese, tasting some wine samples, and viewing photographs of the region that resembles Tuscany, I am ready to visit this under-the-radar wine region.
Where is Oltrepò Pavese
Oltrepò Pavese is located in southern Lombardy, with Piedmont to the west, Emilia Romagna to the southeast, Liguria to the south, and Milan about 25 miles north. The top viticulture region is in the middle of Oltrepò Pavese, between the plains of the Po river and the highest hills where the Apennine Mountains begin.
Fast Facts about Oltrepò Pavese
Oltrepò Pavese is located on the 45 parallel, the same as Bordeaux and Oregon.
There are ~33,359 acres of vineyards, ~7413 acres of Pinot Nero, and ~1700 wineries.
The main grape varieties are Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir), Croatina (an indigenous red grape), Barbera, Riesling, Pinot Grigio, Uva Rara, Pinot Blanc, and Moscato.
Oltrepò Pavese ranks first in Pinot Noir production in Italy and third in Europe after Burgundy and Champagne.
There are 6 DOCs:
- Oltrepò Pavese DOC: This is the regional DOC.
- Buttafuoco Oltrepò Pavese DOC: Buttafuoco is a style of wine that covers red wines that are still or semi-sparkling. The blend is Barbera, Croatina (25-65%) and Uva Rara and/or Vespolina up to 45%.
- Bonarda Oltrepò Pavese DOC: This is a style blend, not a grape like Bonardo from Piedmont. The blend is Croatina (85-100%), with Barbera, Ughetta/Vespolina, and Uva Rara making up no more than 15% of the balance. There are frizzante and still versions.
- Sangue di Guida Oltrepò Pavese DOC: A sweet red wine with low alcohol around 6%. The blend incorporates Barbera (25-65%), Croatina (25-65%), Uva Rara, Ughetta(Vespolina), and/or Pinot Nero, making up a maximum of 45%. It can be made vivace, frizzante, or spumante style.
- Pinot Nero Oltrepò Pavese DOC: Pinot Nero has traditionally been used to produce the region’s sparkling wines. (minimum 95% Pinot Nero in the final blend).
- Pinot Grigio Oltrepò Pavese DOC: Still and Frizzante styles are produced. Pinot Grigio can also be used to craft Metodo Classico wines.
In addition to these 6 DOCs there is a Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico DOCG – a sparkling wine produced in the traditional (Champagne) method called Cruasé. It is a rosé made mostly from Pinot Nero.
Sources: Susannah Gold, Vigneto Communications and The Wine Bible, Karen MacNeil
My Tasting Notes
Disclosure: The wines were provided to me as media samples. All opinions are my own.
2021 Ca’ Di Frara Pinot Grigio Oltrepò Pavese DOC
13.5% abv | ~ $16.00 | 100% Pinot Grigio
Pale yellow in color. Aromas of citrus and flowers. On the palate, medium-bodied and medium(+) acidity. Flavor notes of lemon and minerals. A bright, fresh Pinot Grigio with a soft round mouthfeel. The perfect sipping wine or paired with a simple light white fish preparation.
2020 Camara’ Tenuta Mazzolino Chardonnay, Provincia di Pavia IGT
12.5% abv | $17.00 | 100% Chardonnay
Pale straw in color with a green hue. On the nose tropical fruit and citrus notes. On the palate, medium-bodied with medium(+) acidity. Flavors of grapefruit, minerals, and a hint of pineapple. A refreshing wine with good acidity. I paired this with a crab cake salad with avocado on the side and a citrus honey Dijon mustard vinaigrette.
2020 Calatroni Siliquastro Sangue di Giuda Oltrepò Pavese DOC
6% abv | ~$10.00 | Croatina, Barbera, and Uva Rara
Pale to medium ruby in color with a purple rim. Red fruit notes on the nose with a bit of fizz when poured. On the palate, sweet with a medium(-) body, tannins, and medium acidity. Flavors of red jammy notes and a lingering hint of cranberry on the finish. The producer suggests fruit or jam tarts and tea biscuits as a pairing.