The Colli Bolognese winemaking area to the south west of Bologna is home to the Pignoletto grape, an indigenous variety which gives crisp, dry whites in both still and sparkling styles. Little known outside Emilia Romagna, these wines were the find of my trip particularly the sparkling versions which, for me, were crisper and more refreshing than Prosecco, a wine now seen all over wine stores and supermarkets here in the UK.
Pignoletto Frizzante is made under the Colli Bolognese Classico DOC classification and is made from the grapes of one vintage. It is typically refreshing and light with citrus and green apple flavours, making it an excellent aperitif and an unusual match for fresh, young cheeses and light starters. The still wines which are produced under the Colli Bolognese Classico DOCG are dry and fuller-bodied with citrus flavours again and sometimes a hint of tropical fruit. The Enoteca Regionale Emilia Romagna, situated in the charming hilltop town of Dozza, is a regional wine board promoting the quality of the region’s wines and they list these tempting pairings for the still Pignoletto: toasted bread with truffle, tortellini in broth, tortelli filled with courgette flowers, fried shellfish and fish in general.
I’m wondering which dish to try with my sole bottle of still Pignoletto brought home from Lodi Corazza, a family-run business whose Pignolettos are stunning and are shown in the photo at the top of this post. The label on the still wine shows the statue of Neptune which can be found in Bologna’s main square and Zigant is the local dialect term for a giant.
The Pignoletto grape was for some time thought to be Riesling but actually it is more similar to Grechetto, grown mostly in Umbria and one of the varieties used in making Orvieto. Whilst the Colli Bolognese area is thought to produce the best Pignoletto, it can be found in other parts of Emilia Romagna. At Tenuta Montecatone in the hills above Imola we tried a sparkling version with stone fruit characteristics made under the Pignoletto dell’Emilia IGT classification. I wait with anticipation for a sample of still Pignoletto, also labelled under the regional Emilia category, from Cantina Barone in Castel San Pietro Terme where they will be bottling the new vintage in the next few days.