Blind tasting S. Italian varietals

In trying to differentiate between lesser known Southern Italian varietals blind, here is a listing of bottled characteristics from the public domain, with origin. I will cross-check the conclusions with my own tastings, and comment further.

Variety, [sample size], origin Characteristics
Catarratto [30]
Western Sicily
It was historically used as a high yielding bulk filler in a marsala blend. Good quality wines are achievable if yields are restricted, better sites and sympathetic wine making used. There are plenty of varietal examples, and is not uncommonly blended with eg pinot grigio, carricante, chardonnay, zibibbo (aka moscato di alexandria). Whilst examining varietal wines, I came across three orange wines. The variety occurs as two strains, catarratto comune (higher sugar, lower acid) and catarratto lucido (assumedly then lower sugar and higher acidity).
What to look for
Aromas and flavours of citrus, floral, tropical and herbal; medium tending towards full bodied, with fresh acidity, lees ageing seems popular.
Raw data
: oak exposure/lees ageing: [13] lees ageing (8), skin contact(2), oak aged, part fermented in French oak.
Body: light -> medium, medium(13), medium (+) (6), full(2).
Acidity: fresh/crisp(11), moderate, high.
citrus [33] citrus(10), lemon(7), grapefruit(5), citrus peel(4), citrus zest(2), lemon confected, lemon grass – lemony with a touch of ginger about it, lemon sherbet, lime, orange.
floral [17] citrus blossom (5), orchard fruit blossom(3), floral(4), chamomile, dried flowers, iris, violet, wisteria.
tropical [16] tropical (9), banana, melon(3), pineapple(2), passion fruit.
other [15] savoury(6), honey(5), slight bitterness on finish(3), bread crust.
herbal [14] herbs (8), eucalyptus, fennel, hay, sage, tea, thyme.
orchard [6] apple(2), apple green(2), apple red, pear.
stone [6] apricot (3), peach (2), white peach(2).
nuts [4] almond(2), nutty (2).
oak [4] balsamic(2), cedar, toasty.
spice [4] aniseed, ginger, spicy, sweet spice.
Fiano [23]
Campania, Puglia, Sicily
What to look for
Unoaked, ranging from medium to full bodied, medium (+) acidity, with a rich fruit profile, most notably of yellow citrus and apple, then increasingly richer peach, tropical fruit and floral notes, quite often with a nutty hazelnut side and Mediterranean/garrigue herbs.
Raw data
Oak: unoaked [all].
Body: [m->f]
Acidity: noted as  fresh ie medium (+) [21]. Aromas/flavours
herbal[15] mint(3), sage(3), basil(2), herbal(2), oregano(2), tomato leaf(2), fennel.
citrus[14] citrus(6), grapefruit(6), bergamot, lemon.
tropical fruit[14] tropical fruit(7), melon(3), banana(2), mango(2).
orchard fruit[12] apple(8), pear(4).
floral[10] floral(6), acacia, broom,  hawthorn, jasmine.
stone fruit[10] , peach(5), peach white(4), nectarine.
nuts[7]  hazelnut roast(5), almond(2).
other[6] honey(3), spice(2), smoky.
Greco [27]
Campania, but also Calabria
My tasting notes
What to look for
Unoaked, medium to full-bodied, medium (+) acidity, with a profile dominated by orchard fruit and significant richer stone fruit – notably ripe pear, then apple and peach, with a strong floral dimension, and noting bitter almond, which seems to be a signature note, along with a herbal dimension.
Raw data
: unoaked [all].
Body: [m->f].
Acidity: noted as fresh ie medium (+) [24]. Aromas/flavours
orchard fruit[40] pear(20), apple(7), apple yellow(7), orchard fruit(6).
stone fruit[30] peach yellow(13), white stone fruit(5), apricot(4), nectarine(3), peach white(3), yellow stone, stone fruit.
floral[25] white flowers(12), citrus blossom(4), acacia(3), hawthorn(3), broom(2), apple blossom.
citrus [20] tangerine(6), lemon(6), lemon zest(4), grapefruit(2), lime, orange skin.
nuts [14] almond bitter(13), hazelnut toasted.
spice[9] ginger(3), white pepper(2), cake spice(2), anise, vanilla.
tropical[7] pineapple(3), tropical(3), banana.
herbal[6] herbal(11), sage(3), fennel(2), mint, basil.
other[10] savoury(6), honey(3), smokey.
Grillo [23]
What to look for
Acidity can tend to be unremarkable, depending on when picked. About 20% use oak in some way, there are some sauvignon blancesque notes, suggestive of earlier picking and cool fermentation in stainless steel. Medium bodied on average at 13%, with very little spread, with lees and oak activity adding body and texture. Yellow citrus is dominant, herbal and floral notes are significant, with riper orchard, stone and tropical appearing with successively riper fruit.
Raw data
Oak/lees ageing
[10]: lees ageing(5), barrel aged(4), fermented in oak.
Body: [m]
Acidity: noted as fresh ie medium (+) (9), noted as average(7).
citrus [28] lemon(8), citrus(6), lemon zest(5), grapefruit(4), lime(3), orange peel, tangerine.
herbal[13] herbal(3), dried herb(2), hay(2), sage(2), currant leaf, cut grass, thyme, vegetal.
floral[12] floral(4),white flowers(2), citrus blossom(2), acacia, wild flowers, broom, wisteria.
orchard fruit[11] pear(4), apple green(3), apple red(3), orchard fruit.
other[11] saltiness(5), savoury(3), honey(2), crystallised fruit.
stone fruit[11] stone fruit(5), apricot(2), peach(2), nectarine, peach white.
tropical[9] pineapple(4), tropical(2), banana, papaya, passion fruit.
nuts [7] almond(4), almond bitter, nutty, walnut.
spice[2] fresh ginger, spicy oak.
Falanghina [31]
Campania, Molise and Puglia
What to look for
Falanghina exists as two distinct varieties­: falanghina beneventana, and falanghina flegrea. The census of Italian varieties does not differentiate between them. Both are high in acidity. Flegrea is grown in Campania (its signature white variety), Molise and Puglia, with a reported sensory profile of peach and apricot, yellow apple, crushed cherry pit and apricot kernel, with a leafiness. Its best appellation is suggested to be DOC Falanghina de Sannio. Beneventana is grown in Campania. Relative to flegrea, it is reportedly less aromatic less fruity, more floral, and again showing a green/leafy note. It is usually unoaked, and suits sparkling and passito. The best appellation is suggested to be DOP Benevento.
Raw data
Oak/lees ageing[2]: lees ageing(2).
Body: [m->m+]
Acidity: noted as fresh or crisp ie medium (+) (19).
citrus[25] citrus(10), lemon(3), orange peel(3), tangerine(3), citrus zest(3), candied citrus, grapefruit, lime.
tropical[24] tropical fruit(6), banana(6), melon(6), pineapple(4), guava, pomegranate.
floral [22] white flowers(7), floral(6), honeysuckle(3), acacia(2), orange blossom(2), broom(2).
stone fruit [19] stone fruit(6), peach(5), dried apricot(2), peach yellow(2), peach white(2), apricot, nectarine.
orchard fruit [18] pear(7), apple(5), apple green(4), apple yellow, quince.
nuts [8] almond(5), nutty(2), roasted hazelnut.
spice [7] fennel(2), vanilla(2), ginger, spice, white pepper.
herbal [7] dried herbs(4), herbal(3).
other [5] savoury(2), beeswax, honey, petrol.
ansonica (aka inzolia) [9]
almost all in Sicily
Most often seen in blends, with major partner catarratto, but also vermentino, chardonnay, moscato, sauvignon blanc, and others. Nicolas Belfrage in Brunello to Zibibbo, writes of its existing use as a significant blending component, to add softness and flavour, as well as varietal use.

What to look for
As a varietal, 9 examples of ansonica were found, having quite tightly, a medium body, with as far as it is possible to draw conclusions from a small sample, a profile dominated by rich floral notes, tropical and citrus notes, with a smattering of others. So rather inconclusive, though Wine  Grapes suggests a signature nutty character.

Raw data
Oak/lees ageing: fermentation
Body: [m]
Acidity: no mention [9]
floral [5] acacia, floral(2), jasmine, honeysuckle
citrus [2] lemon zest, orange peel
tropical [2] melon, banana
other [8] almond, apple, dried fruit, herbs, honey, peach yellow, vanilla.


About citbp

I am interested in everything about wine, from site selection to tasting.
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