- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Baglio di Pianetto, “Ramione,” IGT Sicily, 2002, $19

The abbreviation “IGT” on an Italian wine label stands for “Indicazione Geografica Tipica,” which translates as “typical place name.” It’s an odd designation because producers often employ it when they want to use untraditional grape varieties or winemaking techniques. Yet with more good IGTs being made these days, what counts as “typical” in Italian wine is changing rapidly.

This is especially true in regions previously known more for quantity than quality — particularly those in the south of the country. Italian wine from the regions of Basilicata, Calabria, Puglia and Sicily are undergoing a delicious renaissance, led in large measure by IGTs.

Today’s tasty Sicilian red is an IGT wine because the vintner includes equal portions of the indigenous grape, nero d’avola, and the imported variety, merlot, in the blend. The result is a wine that successfully walks the line between tasting internationally styled and regionally distinct. Soft and supple, with plenty of bright, red-fruit flavor, it also exhibits an intriguing spiciness and a dusty, characteristically southern Italian undertone.

While no one wants southern Italian reds to lose their earthy edge, wine lovers everywhere can rejoice when they taste better — meaning more nuanced and sophisticated. This one does just that. Medium-bodied, it should pair especially well with poultry, pork or fairly robust pasta dishes. (Imported by Paterno Wines.)

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