The Metropolitan Vineyard
|A Wine for Every Occasion|
These days are witnessing the progressive abandon of areas that are less suitable for grape growing, and moving toward a less intensive viticulture more focused on quality, following the DOC wine market request. Yield per acre is down and many small, family-run businesses, with members that are just part time vintners out of love for the product, are finding themselves more and more in need of cooperating with larger estates, in order to keep up with the current pace of re-evaluation of the local vitivinicolture. The larger estates have the needed equipment and means to produce modern wines and market the final products, in a struggle to promote the whole local production, economic growth and increased competitiveness of the whole local enology, improving the links between products and traditions, quality and typical characteristics of the wines.
|The 'Bassa' (Lower Padana Plain) and its local products|
|The 'Bassa Padana' – that is the Padana Plain south of the fontanili, or natural springs that generate the web of irrigation canals that expand the whole flatland – has always been, and still is, a rich, fertile agricultural area that provides traditional, ancient-flavored products.
In addition to the most widely known DOP cheeses, such as the Grana Padano (similar to Parmesan cheese, but produced in a wider controlled area), the Provolone Valpadana, Taleggio, Quartirolo Lombardo and the Gorgonzola, there are rare delicacies such as the Granone Lodigiano, a dark-rind cheese that ages for as long as four years; the fresh, sweet Mascarpone cheese, made exclusively with the cream of cow milk in the Lodi and Abbiategrasso areas; and, finally, the Pannerone, a soft, unsalted cheese aged for short time and typical of the province of Lodi and the southern part of Milan.
Another local specialty is the salame Milano, a large kind of sausage seasoned with spices, white wine and garlic made in the municipalities of San Colombano and Codogno. The town of Belgioioso is widely known for the local amaretti (almond biscotti). The traditional tortionata almond cake is typical of Lodi, as is the case with focaccia unta (greasy bun), known locally as Chissöla oonta (in local dialect) .
To complete the picture, following are the local typical agricultural products: cereals, famous rice varieties such as Arborio, Volano, Vialone Nano, Roma, Baldo, Carnaroli and Sant’Andrea; various fruits, among which cherries and figs.
Currently over 50% of the grape production is used to make DOC and IGT wines, for a total of about 2.75 tons of grapes yearly. In fact, in addition to the DOC San Colombano al Lambro, in 1995 IGT Collina del Milanese (Milan area hills) which, as opposed to what happens in other parts of Italy, does not represent a 'degraded' appellation, but rather aims to promote single vineyard wines and the local Spumanti (Champagne-like, sparkling wines), produced either according to the traditional or the Charmat methods, in addition to other special types of wines, such as some interesting sweet Passiti (dessert wines) made with Malvasia grapes. In 1987 the Consorzio Volontario di Tutela Vini DOC San Colombano al Lambro (Consortium of the Volunteer for the San Colombano al Lambro DOC Wines), whose headquarters is the Belgioioso (Beautiful and Happy) Castle of San Colombano. The main goal of the consortium is to improve the image of the DOC and the IGT, through promotion and quality control of the wines produced by the associates, both at administrative as well as a chemical / organoleptic level.
After the wines have chemical and organoleptic tests made by the tasting commission of the Chamber of Commerce, which is mandatory for all the DOC San Colombano wines, the producers associated with the consortium may apply for the certifying logo – featuring a stylized image of St. Colombano with a grape – which is given after the wines have cleared another test by the tasting commission of the consortium. Thus, the certifying logo is tantamount to a double guarantee of quality, and that the wines are genuine and typical of the area. Though it still not widely known, the certification is already the unquestioned symbol of the willingness of an ancient rural community, seriously intent in finding its own wine identity, freeing itself from the long hegemonic shadow of the nearby DOC Oltrepò Pavese, which produces much more wine in a similar environment.
|Translated from Italian by WineCountry.IT|