Menzioni Geografiche Aggiuntive

Demystifying the Wine Regions of Italy

Even avid wine enthusiasts will balk at the mention of MGA, an acronym for Menzioni Geografiche Aggiuntive. It may take a couple glasses of wine for you to become adventurous enough to attempt to pronounce it, however you might want to learn more about what MGA means in regards to your wine consumption as well as how it can guide you to your next favorite bottle of wine.

Wine regions are a bit mystifying in any country, though Italian regions tend to be the most confusing of all, particularly when it comes to Barolo, Barbaresco, and Alba in the Piemonte region. There is no shortage of wine terms to fill your cup with and MGA adds yet another one for connoisseurs to attempt to wrap their heads around.

In short, with this system, MGA has delineated the names of places within Barolo and Barbaresco so only one monopole can hold the name of its producer. The delineation process was completed in 2010 with the end result tallying in 181 names total of MGA among 11 communes that wineries can use on their labels.

Perhaps learning this is even more mind-boggling than before but fear not. Filling your glass with wines from this region will be no less palate-pleasing than before. However, if you’re looking for MGA designations on your bottle, this distinction is not required to be labeled on the bottle you’re drinking. You’ll have to do your fair share of research if you’d like to partake in an MGA wines from Barolo, Barbaresco or even Alba, renowned for being the gourmet capital of the world. Rare white truffles and an abundance of Michelin-starred restaurants…need we say more?

The Piemonte region of Italy is impeccable when it comes to wine production. Some of the greatest wines to ever have been produced have been lovingly created from start to finish in the vineyards surrounding the Alps. When it comes to Barolo and Barbaresco though, most people are inclined to lump them together. After all, these regions are both located in Northwest Italy. They both also make wine with Nebbiolo grapes. According to Geoff Kruth, renowned Master Sommelier, there are quite a few distinctions.

Namely, the soils are wholly different from one another. Barolo wines produce more tannins while the Barbaresco soil lends richer nutrients. Those seeking to taste Italian wines with less tannin-kick to them should select from Barbaresco. Barolo wines are also stored for one year longer than Barbaresco. Barolo ages for three years before gracing the market, which reduces the tannins and lends it the remarkable flavor that has propelled it into the hearts of wine lovers the world over.

A picture is worth 1,000 words though, and thanks to Alessandro Masnaghetti’s Great Vineyards Encyclopedia collection, it’s a useful tool to help Italian wine enthusiasts demystify the MGA within the Piemonte region visually while providing 20 years of intensely-detailed research to sort out the confusion. Since the names of the terroir have been used on Italian bottles of wine, the MGA system attempts to make a formal definition of the location.

No doubt a painstaking process, the fruits (forgive the pun) of Masnaghetti’s labor have certainly paid off in this accurate depiction of maps with highlights of towns and terroir for these Piemonte regions. The fine details include 3-D maps that highlight the vineyard contours, fact sheets on each cru, and a glossary of the names of places and brands as well as historic zones.

Although the MGA is still relatively confusing for many, it is a step in the right direction to guide consumers searching to sample distinctive wines from the Piemonte region. It is as diverse and extensive as the regional cuisines found from the tip of the toe of the boot all the way on up, and while it tends to be unclear at times, one thing is for certain: the wines from Piemonte are marvelously complex in flavor, a welcome type of complexity when it comes to attempting to understand the regional distinctions.

With MGA, Barolo is getting more recognition stateside than before, however the other regions of Piemonte are finally coming to light, something that every wine drinker will no doubt come to appreciate. Your local wine shop can surely make some recommendations fit to accompany your next dinner. Make a night of it by indulging in the style of cuisine from this area. Regardless of whom you choose to dine with, the tastes of traditional Piemonte cuisine are robustly rich and elegant. Indulgent ingredients like butter and sage, anchovies, and of course when the season is in full swing, white truffles, make for memorable meals. Accentuating them with the finest wines of Barolo, Barbaresco and Alba is the ideal complement, one that is sure to net you compliments of your own.

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