I’m feeling adventurous tonight, so I thought I’d open a wine that I’ve never heard of: Insolia. I thought I knew most varietals, or at least enough to not be surprised when I see something unfamiliar, but I admit that this grape threw me for a loop. I have truly never heard of Insolia. What the hell is it?
Well a quick perusal of Wikipedia tells me it’s an white grape indigenous to Italy, primarily grown in Sicily, and and in Tuscany under the name of Ansonica. There are lots of other names it’s known by, but for our purposes, I’ll stick to Insolia.
I’ve read that it can be light and bright, like a sauvignon blanc or pinot grigio, but the one I’m tasting tonight strikes me more like a mellow chardonnay. The grape is often used in blends to make Marsala, a fortified wine.
This Feudo Principi di Butera — part of the Zonin family of wineries, which is the largest privately owned wine group in Italy — is so gentle I almost don’t want to breathe lest I upset its reverie. Just a touch of tingle on the tongue reminds me that this indeed made from a fruit; every other note is just pure silk. The dry grass with a nutty tone is balanced with a spray of tropical fruits, almost a creamy pineapple. Yes, I know “creamy” and “pineapple” don’t generally go together, but that’s just what this wine makes me think of.
Feudo Principi di Butera ferments its Insolia in steel barrels and allows it to age in the bottle, which likely accounts for the hint of fizz on the palate. What I find interesting is that this wine retains its dry, spry features (thanks to the steel barrels) while somehow achieving the creamy quality common in oak-aged wines. It is not smoky or oaky, but is somehow still smooth and almost buttery without the butter flavor.
Confused yet? Yes, that’s because this is a wine the likes of which you have probably never tasted.
The tasting notes recommend pairing it with vegetable-based soups, pasta dishes, fish soups, shellfish, or white meats. I am craving shrimp lightly sauteed in garlic butter with my glass of Insolia.
It took some Googling to find an average price for this wine in the U.S., but you can find it in the $14 vicinity at various online retailers.