The best red wines from Molise
In the mere 6,400 hectares of area under vine in Molise, most of which is in the Campobasso province, half of the viticulture takes place in the hills and half in the mountains. The climate is semi-continental due to the upland plains in the Samnite and Abruzzo Apennines, which affect the grapevine cultivation due to hot summers, cold winters, and snowfall. In this region, all the red wines are produced in line with the DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) designation, including Tintilia del Molise and Biferno. The first DOC, Tintilia del Molise, uses the black Tintilia grape variety, which was at risk of almost complete abandon for years. Some forward-thinking agronomists, including Giuseppe Mogavero, were responsible for the recovery and awareness campaign for this historic grape variety, which is now experiencing renewed production. The wines produced from the Tintilia grape variety have a beautiful ruby red colour, spiced aromas, often black pepper and nutmeg, a full palate, impressive body, and good length. The production protocol allows for three types: red, Riserva and rosé versions.
The Biferno DOC spans the upper basin of the Biferno river, between the mountains of Sannio and the Matese mountains in the Apennines. Quite a well-ventilated microclimate, sea breezes and a good temperature range create excellent conditions for the production of quality wine. A good amount of the vineyards in this DOC zone are at 500 metres above sea level for red grapes and up to 600 for white grapes. As highlighted previously, Rosso Biferno can be produced in standard, Riserva, Superiore and rosé versions. The first, Biferno Rosso DOC, is made from Montepulciano (70–80%) and Aglianico (10–20%), a blend that produces a ruby red wine with aromas of crunchy red fruit, violet and rose, an intense palate with impressive body, and good tannin. The Biferno DOC Rosso Riserva must be aged for longer, while the Superiore has a higher ABV by at least one per cent. In both cases, the wines become more complex and full-bodied than the standard version. There is also the Pentro di Isernia DOC zone, where the reds are rosés are made with Montepulciano and Sangiovese grapes, with some Tintilia. In addition to these, there is the Molise DOC, which includes almost the entire regional territory.
Pairings to try
The Molise DOC wines are relatively new. In fact, this region was one of the latest to be recognised as a DOC zone. Despite this, Molise’s wine-making tradition has been gaining importance for years. So, when it comes to pairings with food, you are spoilt for choice with the wines in this region! Want some examples? A Biferno Rosso DOC pairs well with meat dishes, mature pecorino, soppressata (salami), risottos, polenta with meat sauce, or elaborate pastas. If you love tasty, flavoursome dishes, like lamb or kid, you could opt for the Biferno Rosso Riserva, which is so full and complex that it can hold its own in the pairing. The Riserva also pairs perfectly with baked pasta, while the Superiore is more suitable for pasta with beans and rise with gorgonzola. Tintilia is a splendid wine that makes an ideal accompaniment for strong flavours, from mature cheeses to grilled meats, and from mutton to game.
More harmonious flavours and aromas
Tintilia is particularly sublime when drunk with traditional regional dishes, like kid, but also with stewed white meats, first courses with meat-based sauces, and truffles. If you want to experiment with pairings outside of the region, you could prepare a succulent Florentine steak or a tasty tapenade, testing the pairing ability of these character-rich reds. With a Pentro di Isernia DOC wine, you could try delicate first courses, mature cheeses, soups, and roasts, while an Aglianico del Molise is ideal with pasta or risotto with meat sauces, with game, or with mature cheeses. Cabernet Sauvignon can be paired with roast rabbit, hard and slightly spicy cheeses, cured meats, and pasta. Try a Montepulciano with baked rabbit, semi-mature cheeses, baked pasta, and any cured meats. Whereas if you are a fan of fried or salted fish, pair it with a Sangiovese, which is also excellent with pasta. Give them a try!