Oltrepò Pavese wine region is one of Italy’s best-kept secrets. Oltrepò is located in Lombardy, just 40 miles south of Milan. The region is one of the biggest wine-growing areas in Lombardy. Still, a well-kept secret, the wines of Oltrepò Pavese are slowly gaining recognition around the world, especially amongst food and wine lovers.
The Po River is the longest and biggest river in Italy. Oltrepò means on the other side of the Po. Oltrepò Pavese is a region that looks like a bunch of grapes and is located around the city of Pavia. Pavia is a beautiful town surrounded by a gorgeous region with hills and vineyards. Many residents of Milan own homes in Oltrepò. The picturesque countryside makes it ideal for bike riding and hiking.
Lombardy touches several regions; Piedmont, Emilia Romagna, Liguria. It is near the Apennines and the Alps which influence winemaking in Oltrepò. Additionally, it is not far from the coast of Liguria so you have the influence of the seas. The climate is a mix from the Ligurian Sea to the South, the Po River and the Piedmont Mountains. In terms of soils, you have Dolomite rocks and sand and you also have clay and limestone. There are lots of flatlands in the region, but according to regulation, viticulture takes place in the hills.
The Consorzio Tutela Vini Oltrepò Pavese was founded in the 1960s, which is quite early for an Italian Consortium. There are approximately 160 producers, 1300 growers with 13,000+ hectares of vines. Due to the soils and terroir, the wines are perfect for aging, and you can lay down in the cellar. With the round full-bodied nature of these wines, they are ideal for winter sipping.
HISTORY OF OLTREPÒ PAVESE
The clearest evidence of the presence of vines in Oltrepò comes from the Bollettino del Comizio Agrario Vogherese of 1876, which documents the discovery of a fossilized vine trunk, found near Casteggio(Clastidium). The first mention of viticulture in Oltrepò belongs to Strabone, who lived between 60 B.C. and 20 A.D. In fact, in 40 B.C.. Strabone documented his passage through the Oltrepò. He wrote of “good wine, hospitable people and very large wooden barrels”.
In the 1800s, Oltrepò Pavese had about 225 grape varieties. Today Pinot Nero is their star grape variety in addition to other main grapes like Croatina, Barbera and Riesling. You must venture and try these other grape varieties from Oltrepò, but today’s exploration will focus on Pinot Nero.
PINOT NERO IN OLTREPÒ PAVESE
Like Oregon and Burgundy, Oltrepò is located on the 45th parallel. So it is not surprising that Oltrepò is also widely known for its Pinot Nero. It is the third-largest area for Pinot Nero in Europe, after Burgundy and Champagne.
A region that once grew 225 local grape varieties, today is producing just a handful of grapes. Pinot Nero has stood the test of time and has emerged as its star grape variety. Starting in the mid 19th century Pinot Nero started to emerge as the ideal grape for the local terroir of Oltrepò Pavese. Pinot Nero is a difficult grape to harvest and over time has shown that the soils, climates and hills of Oltrepò are where this noble grape variety thrives. Oltrepò Pavese wine producers have taken full advantage of this phenomenon. They produce elegant red wines as well as sparkling wine in the classic method from Pinot Nero. Below is a list of the various DOCG and DOC wines produced with Pinot Nero.
- Oltrepò Metodo Classico DOCG, 70% min Pinot Nero, 30% Chardonnay,
Pinot Grigio or Pinot Blanc. Alc 11.5%, Acid 5 g/l min
- Oltrepò Metodo Classico DOCG Rosé 70% min Pinot Nero 30%
Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Pinot Blanc. Alc 11.5%, Acid 5 g/l min
- Oltrepò Metodo Classico Cruasé – Pinot Nero (75% min)
- Oltrepò Metodo Classico DOCG PN – 85% Min Pinot Nero 15% Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Pinot Blanc. Alc 12%, Acid 5.5 g/l min
- Oltrepò Metodo Classico DOCG Pinot Nero Rosé – 85% Min Pinot Nero 15% Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio or Pinot Blanc. Alc 12%, Acid 5 g/l min
- Pinot Nero dell’Oltrepò Pavese DOC since 2010 (min 95%), also comes in Riserva
TWO PINOT NEROS TO TRY
La Versa Pinot Nero Dell’Oltrepò Pavese DOC 2019
La Versa is a cooperative that was created in 2020 when it joined two historic cooperatives, Cantina Sociale Intercomunale in Broni and Cantina di Casteggio. Today it is one of the largest cooperatives with 700 shareholders, producing 4 million bottles with famed enologist Riccardo Cotarella making a line of wines for La Versa.
There is a beautiful ruby hue in the glass with an elegant nose of red fruit and spice. La Versa is inviting and seductive on the palate with lots of energy and finesse. Notes of red fruit and dark spice coat the mouth with the presence of bright acidity and integrated tannins. Pair this delicious Pinot Nero with cured meats, hard cheese and grilled shrimp.
Ca’ di Frara Losana Pinot Nero dell’Oltrepo Pavese DOC 2018
The winery Ca’ di Frara was founded in 1905 by Giovanni Bellani, today his grandson Luca is the owner. The winery is located in Casa Ferrari, near the Mornico Losana village, which is an ideal site for the cultivation of Pinot Nero. The vineyards are situated on beautiful hills that are shielded from high winds. The unique site has a microclimate that ensures mild temperatures in the winter and warm and windy summers. The territory, the climate, the 110-year-old history and passion make these wines extremely high quality.
The 2018 Pinot Nero is elegant with bright fruit and delicate aromas. The palate is soft with notes of red currants, strawberries and velvety tannins. Pair the wine with grilled salmon or pasta with a wild mushroom ragu.
**Photos Courtesy Consorzio Tutela Vini Oltrepò Pavese**
This February the Italian Food Wine Travel Group is exploring the wines from a region that is one of Italy’s best kept secrets, Oltrepò Pavese. Susannah Gold is our host and sent over samples to explore and discover this wine region. Be sure to join us on February 5th at 11 AM EST on Twitter at #ItalianFWT
See what my fellow wine writers discovered on their journey through Oltrepò Pavese.
- Payal of Keep the Peas shares “Just Now Discovering Oltrepò Pavese
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla adds Second Pours of Oltrepò Pavese Wines with Braised Short Ribs and Puff Pastry”
- Linda from My Full Wineglass brings “Flying under the radar with an Oltrepò Pavese sparkling rosé”
- Terri from My Good Life dishes about “Stone Crabs with Oltrepò Pavese.”
- Martin from Enofylz showcases “A Taste Of The Unsung Wines of Oltrepò Pavese”
- Deanna from Winevore posts “Wine for the Priest! from Oltrepo Pavese, Italy”
- David from Cooking Chat reflects on “Tasting and Pairing with Oltrepo’ Pavese Wines”
- Jeff from Food Wine Click! waxes about the “Surprising Wines of Oltrepò Pavese”
- Rupal from Syrah Queen post “Oltrepò Pavese Wines -One of Italy’s Best Kept Secret”
- Gwendolyn from Wine Predator showcases “2 Pinot Nero from Oltrepo’ Pavese #ItalianFWT”
- Wendy from A Day in the Life on the Farm checks out “Cheesy Vegetable Lasagna paired with Oltrepo Pavese Wine”
- Liz from What’s In that Bottle suggests we “Check Out “the Other Side of the Pó” for Tasty Italian Wines “
- Jennifer from Vino Travels adds “Pinot Nero in Abundance in the Oltrepò Pavese”
- Lisa from The Wine Chef writes “Off The Beaten Path: Oltrepò Pavese, A Wine Region to Know About.”
- Susannah from Avvinare, writes about “Wine Treasures To Be Found in Oltrepò Pavese.”