An Unusual Italian Red Wine: Tintilia del Molise DOC

What a pleasant surprise! Yesterday night I was in Milan, Italy, and went to a restaurant with a friend. While I was browsing their wine list, a very peculiar wine caught my eye: they had a bottle of Tintilia in the cellar!

Now, unless you are REALLY into Italian wine, you will most likely be like, what the heck is Tintilia? Which is a fair question as it is one of the least known wines in the vast Italian repertoire, but it also gives me the opportunity to tell you something about it – so, if you are interested, read on!

Tintilia is the name of a red grape variety that is indigenous to the small region of Molise, in Southern Italy. Tintilia is often mistakenly believed to be the pseudonym in Molise of the Sardinian “Bovale Grande” grape variety. This is a red grape which is widely grown on the island of Sardinia, Italy, and is generally used in blends. Bovale Grande is the same
clone as the Spanish grape Bobal, which had been brought to Sardinia by the Spaniards at the time of their domination back in the XV century.

However, genetic testing performed at the University of Molise on 22 samples of Tintilia coming from 21 vineyards in Molise conclusively proved that Tintilia is actually a grape variety that is genetically different from Bovale Grande and is indigenous to Molise.

Because of its low productivity, many Tintilia vineyards had been abandoned and this peculiar grape variety risked falling into oblivion, until recently a select number of quality producers from Molise invested in growing Tintilia grapes and in making quality varietal wines from such grapes. Just a few of these commendable producers (with their best Tintilia wines in parentheses) are: Catabbo (Tintilia del Molise Riserva DOC), Cantine Salvatore (Tintilia del Molise Rutilia DOC) and Angelo d’Uva (Tintilia del Molise DOC, the one I got to try yesterday night).

From an appellation viewpoint, Tintilia is one of the red grape varieties allowed for the “Molise DOC” appellation, which was created in 1998 and encompasses an area in Molise surrounding the towns of Campobasso and Isernia.

From a wine tasting perspective, Tintilia wines are generally ruby in color, have fine red fruit (mainly cherries, strawberries, raspberries) and/or black fruit (mainly plums, blackberries, blueberries) aromas and, depending on the aging choices made by the producers, they can give out pleasant spice scents, such as licorice, tobacco and pepper. In the mouth they are pleasantly fruity, with good acidity, defined tannins and a relatively long-lasting aftertaste.

Tintilia is certainly not the king of Italian red wines, but, if you pick a bottle from a quality producer, it is an enjoyable red wine at an affordable price point. Suggested pairings would essentially be meats, from veal to pork to game.

If you want to know more about Tintilia, you may want to read a very interesting and informative article on the Website of Catabbo, a very good producer of Tintilia in Molise, and an article on the genetic testing of Tintilia samples that was published in The Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology.

So, that’s all folks as far as Tintilia is concerned: if you happen to come across a bottle of Tintilia, just give it a shot and let us know how you like it! And by the way, is there anybody out there who has already tried Tintilia out? If so, how did you like it?

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About Stefano

I am a photographer and an ISA certified sommelier. I contribute to two blogs, Flora's Table (the fine cooking and wine blog - www.florastable.com) and Clicks & Corks (my photography and wine blog - www.clicksandcorks.com). My photography Web site is at www.LightQuill.com
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9 Responses to An Unusual Italian Red Wine: Tintilia del Molise DOC

  1. Moritz Weibel says:

    Tonight, at my sister’s restaraunt , Canelé, in Atwater Village, California, I tried the Salvatore. It was perfect. I’ll definitely order this one again & again!

    • Stefano says:

      Thank you very much for taking the time to leave a comment and your feedback: much appreciated.
      I am very glad to hear that you liked this unusual, rare to find wine! I also enjoyed the bottle I had very much, and it is definitely good value for the money, which makes it score an extra point!
      Take care

  2. Caroline says:

    I wonder where i can get hold of this unusual wine? Thank you! Caroline

    • Stefano says:

      Hi Caroline,
      Thank you for stopping by and commenting.
      If I am not mistaken you are in Sweden. According to Wine Searcher, it looks like there are no wine stores in Sweden that carry Tintilia. I would suggest that you send an email or reach out directly to one or more of the producers mentioned in the post (if you click on their names, you will get to their Web sites) and ask them if they have a Swedish importer. Beside the wineries that are mentioned in the post, you may also consider reaching out to Cantine Cipressi who are also a very good producer of Tintilia (http://www.cantinecipressi.it/index.php/cipressi/setLingua/ENG). Should you encounter language difficulties communicating with them, just let me know and I may be able to help you.
      Hope this helps!
      Stefano

      • Caroline says:

        Hello again! Thank you so much for your quick responds. I will look this up. Yes, i’m from sweden i work in the business with wine as a salesman for systembolaget (the store). I also am an educated sommelier, took my examina this year a few weeks ago and now i want to now everything about wine. When i was in Italy, florens i met a pubowner who lived in molise when he was younger and recomended this special wine to me. So now i have to have it 🙂 thank you so much for your help, i will get back to you if i encounter any complications.

        Gracie mille!!

        Caroline

      • Stefano says:

        Glad to be of help, Caroline!
        Congratulations on passing your sommelier certification exam!
        And you are right, a quality Tintilia is certainly an interesting and peculiar wine, which I think you will find appealing, also because of its good quality to price ratio.
        When you get to taste it, please let me know how you like it!
        Ciao 🙂
        Stefano

  3. I have just opened a bottle of La Tintilia that a friend brought to me from Italy. It i undoubtedly one of the worst wines I have had in a long while. The DOC qualities note as one possible requirement as “peculitar”. It was certainly that: we had wines made for us that were infected with Brett and this wine was so similar that I thought I was smelling one of those bottles that we had long consigned to the scrap heap – sweaty, wet, mouldy old saddle leather would be the kindest description. As for taste – tannins and acidity dominated and there was a total absence of any fruit flavour.
    I won’t be looking to try Tintilia any time soon.

    • Adam says:

      Of course dude, what you expect drinking a bottle that came with a friend of yours in a luggage? It is a wine that needs to be handled with care. Wrong temperature and you kill it. Go to Italy and give it another go, if you can afford it.

  4. Congrats for your discovery 😀 The wine has a funny name, but it’s worth trying.

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