I’m always eager to try wines from new places and I’ve got a good one for you: Oltrepó Pavese, in Italy’s Lombardy region. Thanks to the Italian Food, Wine & Travel writers group, I got a deep dive into this little known region and am here to share it with you!
While only 15 percent of Oltrepó Pavese wines are exported, you can find them in the U.S. (Try Winesearcher but you can always ask your local wine shop about them, too.)
Where? Oltrepó Pavese is in the far northern part of Italy in the region known as Lombardy. The town of Pavia – the centerpoint of Oltrepó Pavese – is 27 miles south of Milan. I was amazed by the volume of wine that comes from this region – 75 million bottles! Why hadn’t I heard of it? Probably because so little is exported – but the region is investing in marketing to introduce more Americans to these gorgeous wines.
Why’s it called that? “Oltrepó” literally translates to “the other side of the Po,” with the Po River being Italy’s longest river. And Pavese means … near Pavia (the town). Shazam!
What are the wines? The wines are varied, but you’re going to find a lot of Pinot Nero (aka Pinot Noir), as well as Croatina (an indigenous red grape), Barbera and Riesling. Plus: Pinot Grigio! (And yes, also about eight other white varieties). Want to check out the two I tasted? Come on.
Vanzini Pinot Grigio 2020 Ooh-wee, you guys – this wine! For starters, let’s establish the fact that the pinot grigio grape is not a green-skinned grape – like Chardonnay is or Sauvignon Blanc. It’s more pinkish-grey in color – but most PGs are white wines. Not this one! No – it’s almost like a rosé! I don’t have a lot of technical information about this wine, but here’s what I do know – there had to have been some skin contact for it to pick up the color and also? It’s DELICIOUS!
I got notes of peach jam, preserved Meyer lemon and ripe canteloupe, maybe a little green apple. It’s fuller bodied than I expected with a round and satiny texture. There’s a nice hit of acid that keeps everything in balance. I’ve never tasted a PG like this and I loved it!
I paired it with a “winter white-out” dinner of roasted fennel, parsnips and onion with a white rice / quinoa situation. Why all the white food? I have no explanation – it’s what I had on-hand!
All I did was slice everything into even sizes, added a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano and roasted at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. The thing that sent it to tasty town: a shower of lemon zest on top. Damn it was good – and it was perfection with the Vanzini Pinot Grigio from Oltrepó Pavese! From what i can find online, this wine is about $14 – which is an amazing value for this level of quality. This wine would be amazing with any kind of fish or seafood dish, chicken piccata – or a sheet pan of roasted white veg!
Torti Winery Route 66 “Get Your Motor Running” Pinot Nero 2018 Alright, let’s talk about this name, shall we? As it was explained to me, the importer thought it needed an American name to grab interest – so he created this line of “Route 66” wines. I thought it was kind of ridiculous, but then learned that it is a top, top seller so who am I to make fun of the name? The Torti family has been making wine since 1910 and is a three-generation family winery. They have serious wine-making chops and this Pinot Nero (same thing as Pinot Noir) is proof.
This is all fresh, earthy fall leaves, cherries, a subtle savory note, and a bit of black tea. It is light bodied, with a bright mouthfeel and a long finish. There’s oak on it, but it is very restrained. It’s super easy-drinking and at about $27, delivers excellent value.
I paired it with Beef-Mushroom-Barley Soup and it was perfect! The soup has a very beefy / tomato-y flavor that matched the frutiness of the wine. I can also imagine it with veal parmigiana, anything involving prosciutto, mushroom risotto, or sausage pizza.
But Wait, There’s More! This will be an especially fun Italian Food, Wine & Travel project, because everyone got different wines! In Oltrepó Pavese, you’ll also find a lot of sparkling wines – both red and white – as well as Welsh Riesling (which is a softer version of Riesling), and Sangue di Giuda (pronounced sang-way di juda), which is a sweet red wine that is often paired with cheeses and cookies (not together – you know what I mean). And to top it all off, the area takes sustainability seriously, and is one of the few regions actually following the 17 commandments of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. Bravo!
Oltrepò Pavese Discoveries by Italian Food, Wine & Travel Writers
I bet you want to read more about Oltrepó Pavese, right? Here are links to articles by others in our group, and you are invited to join our conversation on Twitter on Saturday Feb. 5 from 10-11am CST at #ItalianFWT. Salut!
- 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 (that’s me!) 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.”
For more info on these wines or the region, check out these links: