One cannot help feeling a little powerless in the face of natural extremes, witness the recent temperatures in Italy’s Mezzogiorno and particularly in Sicily where 43deg. C was registered across the vineyards – an unbelievable 109.4 degrees in Fahrenheit terms.   An unheard-of early to mid-August battle there, obviously, to get the harvests in before the grapes lose valuable acidity, let alone start cooking on the vine.     A situation compounded by the fact that harvesting hours had to be severely limited as daytime temperatures were simply too hot for the grape-pickers themselves, restricted in many estates to harvesting either very early in the day, or very late, or both.

One wonders what the wines resulting from this exceptionally freakish 2017 vintage will taste like once vinified and on the wine merchants shelves.   Watch this space!

Acidity is again the key in our wine choice for September, Brissaica DOC Ansonica 2016 which comes from the Maremma, Tuscany’s former coastal wetlands behind the Gulf of Argentario. In a successful bid to defeat the incidence of malaria this formerly difficult area hadlong since been drained and is now healthily the wild home of buffalo, wild horses, cowboys Italian-style and, well… productive vines. In terms of wine, plenty of quality can be found in the Maremma from a DOC established only twelve years ago, but the grape variety locally called Ansonica(as here) is very possibly the better-known Inzolia, an ancient vine variety thought tohave originated in Sicily. It appears successfully in unfortified blends elsewhere ‘down south’ in Italy and is a key component of the island’s fortified Marsala wine.

This month’s wine choice from the Tuscan Maremma area is at the unfortified end of the scale: fresh and clean as a whistle, bio-dynamically raised and the progeny of vineyards set on hillsides of sandy clay at around 300m overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. Breezy minerally un-oaked Brissaica could almost be called a seaside wine in itself.     My own tasting notes speak of a light herbaceousness on the nose, a delicate mix of nuttiness over stone fruit characteristics within, capped by a fresh acidity. There’s even a wisp of a salty finish, too, making it ideal as a wine to match with shellfish.   I’ve written elsewhere of the reticence of Italian wines, be they red or white, to interfere negatively with the taste of their local cuisines, and having put Brissaica to the test alongside a frittomisto di maremyself I can confirm that it was a very happy pairing indeed.

Salute tutti! While what’s left of the summer last

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN Italy (Tuscany)
NAME OF WINE Brissaia Ansonica 2016
STYLE Food-friendly bio-dynamic dry white
PRODUCER Fattoria di Magliano, Serpeti
ALCOHOL 12.0% abv.
RETAILER Lea & Sandeman Ltd.
PRICE £15.95 a bottle or £14.50 at case rate