In Italian we call it Vino Novello, which literally mean new wine (novello being an arcaic Italian way of saying “new”). What is it, though?
Vino Novello it’s a red wine produced mostly in North Italy and it comes on our tables on November 11th, on Saint Martin’s day.
What is it? The first wine produced from the grape harvest of September. The main characteristic of this wine is the winemaking process, called “carbonic maceration”. This technique is often associated with the French wine region of Beaujolais, in which whole grapes are fermented in a carbon dioxide rich environment before crushing them (a process that frees the juices from the skin with yeast that converts sugar into ethanol). Carbonic maceration ferments most of the juice while it is still inside the grape - although grapes at the bottom of the vessel are crushed by gravity and go through traditional fermentation – and these grapes are placed in a steel container and left to ferment for 15 days. Only then the grapes are crushed and undergo the normal fermentation of 5-6 days.
The wine that results from it is very low in tannins, fruity and fresh, as it lacks the structure for long-term aging. In the most extreme case like Vino Novello or Beaujolais nouveau, the period between picking and bottling can be less than six weeks.
The Vino Novello is produced in most regions, although the production is very common especially in Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige and Tuscany. The grape varieties used for the Novello are: Merlot, Cabernet, Montepulciano and Barbera, although sometime a Novello is made with only one variety.
On the nose, it’s recognisable the scent of raspberries and wild berries in general, reflected as tasting notes. It goes very well with chestnuts or dessert that has chestnuts as ingredient, like castagnaccio, a plain chestnut flour cake, typical in the Tuscany, Liguria, Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna regions. It has to be served at a temperature that ranges from 14 to 16 degrees.
Written by: Elisa della Barba