Oltrepò Pavese Wine Region in Italy: vineyards, cellars and good food
The wine from the Oltrepò Pavese is one of the catalyst poles at a tourist level in this area of Lombardy; an area that is located in the region of Pavia and more specifically south of the river Po, for which it is geographically close to both Emilia Romagna and Piedmont, still making part of Lombardy.
The peculiarity of this area is the presence of many typical products including the famous wine of Oltrepò Pavese. The Oltrepò Pavese is located on the 45th parallel axis where all the world’s largest wine-producing areas are located and for this reason in this area more than 60% of the wine from Lombardy is produced; specifically, this area is famous for the largest productions of Pinot Noir, Bonarda and Riesling. Oltrepò Pavese is the third Italian denomination per hectare in production and the first national area when it comes to the production of the Pinot Noir.
The wines from the Oltrepò area are produced in a delimited region in the province of Pavia (that is in the hilly area of the province of Pavia, south of Po river), are divided in DOP (Protected Designation of Origin) and DOCG ((Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin) and for this reason can only be produced in this region; in the province of Pavia there is also an IGT (Typical Geographical Indication) wine.
The main vineyards of the Oltrepò region
In Oltrepò, you can find mostly the following vineyards:
- Pinot nero
- Pinot Grigio
- Pinot Bianco
The IGT wines of the province of Pavia
The IGT wines of the province of Pavia include all types of wine produced in the province of Pavia and not necessarily linked to the Oltrepò Pavese so we have whites, reds and rosé (wherever possible sparkling, passito and novello)
DOP wines of Oltrepò Pavese
A wine is protected as DOP (exactly as a food) when its organoleptic characteristics are closely linked to the production zone, i.e. influenced by climate, soil and environmental characteristics, but also production methodologies; a DOP wine is solely produced in a geographical area that is delimited and controlled in such a way that the producers comply with the specs established for that area and that production.
In the Oltrepò Pavese area there are 7 DOP wines:
- Oltrepò Pavese (red, white, spumante)
- Pinot grigio
- Pinot nero
- Sangue di Giuda
DOCG wines of Oltrepò Pavese
A wine is DOCG when, after 5 years as DOP, it is recognized as particularly valuable and therefore guaranteed even more. The DOCG designation implies that production and control rules are even stricter and more rigid.
The only DOCG wine of the Oltrepò Pavese is the Oltrepò Pavese Classic Method, a sparkling wine that can be produced using one of the following methods:
- Classic Method
- Classic Method rosè
- Classic Method Pinot Noir
- Classic Method Pinot Noir rosè
The classic method (metodo classico) foresees that sugars and yeasts are added directly in the bottle and that each bottle must rest for a maximum of 30 months in a horizontal position so that the fermentation takes place; once this period has elapsed, the bottles begin to be turned slowly until they reach the vertical position, at which time the bottleneck will come out to make the residue disappear. This is basically the same method that allow the production of the French Champagne.
According to the legal specifications, Pinot Nero must be used for the production of this wine at a minimum of 85% followed by Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Bianco.
The characteristics of the wine from the Oltrepò Pavese
Although we can not find just a single main feature for all wines, we can group them to find similarities and especially combinations.
The reds, which differ in special way for the basic aromas (almond in Bonarda, raspberries and strawberries in Barbera), are strong and structured wines that are well accompanied by cold meats and cheeses (e.g. the famous salami di Varzi) but also to complex and typical dishes such as braised meat.
The whites, with fruity notes, especially with regard to Riesling, are accompanied by river and lake fish, but also by vegetables.
Do not underestimate the Oltrepò Pavese Spumante which in addition to being excellent as an aperitif, is able to perfectly accompany sea food and vegetables.
Plan a trip to Oltrepò to hunt for wineries (but not only)
The Oltrepò, a few miles away from Milan, is well suited for a vacation to unplug and enjoy incredible views, great food and great wine. Also called “Piccola Toscana” (the small Tuscany), the Oltrepò can be explored very well by car following Strada del Vino e dei Sapori dell’Oltrepò Pavese on a route about 60 km long and a territory of 78 municipalities. In addition to good wine, you can sample typical products in the area, such as Varzi DOP salami, bacon, cotechino, cabbage, lard, formaggella from Menconico, Oltrepò crepe, sweet breadcrumbs and miccone bread. Moreover Oltrepò Pavese is a land of castles because of its feudal history; among them Montalto Pavese, Nazzano, Oramala and Zavattarello. From Voghera, the geographical capital of Oltrepò Pavese, you can reach other important centers such as: Casteggio with its ancient hamlet and Certosa Cantù, Broni, of medieval origins, Stradella, with its merl tower and the neoclassical cathedral but also Varzi , the symbol of the hills of the Upper Staffora valley, and Salice Terme with its salt and bromine and sulphurous waters.
Other useful tips for your trip to the Oltrepò
If you decide to organize a tour in Oltrepò Pavese I recommend the following places:
- Cantina Prime Alture Wine Resort: it is located in Casteggio and the family-run management makes it one of the nicest places if you are in the area. Try their wines: Centopercento Pinot Nero, L’altra metà del cuore Merlot, and the Metodo Classico Io per Te.
- Enoteca Regionale Cassino Po: selected products from local producers, wines that change weekly, seasonal and local menu. A lunch or a dinner to try.
- Castello Malaspina di Varzi: a castle that today is a hotel, a restaurant but not just. You can organize retreats, events, but also weddings or ceremonies. The location is gorgeous, the food is simple and all local.
The Oltrepò Pavese wine map:
[My trip to the Oltrepò Pavese region has been sponsored by the Lombardy Region under the project #inlombardia365. Opinions and suggestions are personal].