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Di Majo Norante Apianae Moscato (500mL) 2000
Founded in 1968, the Di Majo estate cultivates more than 200 acres under vine. In order to ensure consistent, high-quality production for all the estate’s wines, Alessio Di Majo hired renowned oenologist Riccardo Cotarella as a consultant. In addition to producing quality wine at an outstanding value, the Di Majo family is dedicated to practicing environmentally sound agriculture. The Di Majo Norante winery sits on the estate of the Marquis Norante of Santa Cristina in the region of Molise, along the Adriatic Sea between Puglia and Abruzzo. The cultivation of vines in this area dates back to 500 BC, when the region was inhabited by two pre-Roman civilizations, the Sanniti and the Osci. The estate has been dedicated to growing vines since the 1800s. In the 1960s a modern cantina was constructed and vines were replanted in the Ramitello area. Optimal exposure, constant breezes during the summer, excellent soil composition and a slope toward the Sciabolone and Madonna Grande valleys combine to create a particularly favorable environment for the production of wine here.
Named “Oenotria” by the ancient Greeks for its abundance of grapevines, Italy has always had a culture virtually inextricable from wine. Wine grapes grow in every region throughout the country—a long and narrow boot-shaped peninsula extending into the Mediterranean. Naturally, most Italian regions enjoy a Mediterranean climate and a notable coastline, if not coastline on all borders, as is the case with the islands of Sicily and Sardinia.
The Alps in the northern regions of Valle d'Aosta, Lombardy and Alto Adige as examples, create favorable conditions for cool-climate varieties, while the Apennine Mountains, extending from Liguria in the north to Calabria in the south, affect climate, grape variety and harvest periods throughout. Considering its variable terrain and conditions, it's still safe to say that most high quality viticulture in Italy takes place on picturesque hillsides.
Italy boasts more indigenous varieties than any other country—between 500 and 800, depending on whom you ask—and most wine production relies upon these native grapes. In some regions, international varieties have worked their way in, but are declining in popularity, especially as younger growers take interest in reviving local varieties. Most important are Sangiovese, reaching its greatest potential in Tuscany and Nebbiolo, the prized grape of Piedmont, producing single varietal, age-worthy wines. Other important varieties include Corvina, Montepulciano, Barbera, Nero d’Avola and of course the whites, Pinot Grigio and Trebbiano. The list goes on.
With hundreds of white grape varieties to choose from, winemakers have the freedom to create a virtually endless assortment of blended wines. In many European regions, strict laws are in place determining the set of varieties that may be used, but in the New World, experimentation is permitted and encouraged. Blending can be utilized to enhance balance or create complexity, lending different layers of flavors and aromas. For example, a variety that creates a soft and full-bodied wine would do well combined with one that is more fragrant and naturally high in acidity. Sometimes small amounts of a particular variety are added to boost color or aromatics. Blending can take place before or after fermentation, with the latter, more popular option giving more control to the winemaker over the final qualities of the wine.