Italian novello wine is the typical wine you see in abundance on the shelves starting at the end of October all the way to the end of November. Vino novello in Italian literally translates as “young wine” and this refers to the process used in making this type of wine. It is often compared to its French counterpart beaujolais nouveau which is similar in process but different in the variety of grapes used and the harvest and release time. The concept of “young wines” is though credited to the French and dates back to the 1930s when a man by the name of M. Flanzy developed the method.
So, what is Novello Wine?
Novello wine in short is a method of fermentation in which the grapes are fermented whole and not crushed, using carbonic maceration with a rapid fermentation process of anywhere from 10 to 20 days. The grapes ferment under their own weight making the process ideal to get the color from the grape without getting too many of the tannins, keeping acidity moderate and fruity flavors high. This rapid fermentation is different from the typical fermentation process which can last months. The alcohol content of these wines generally remains quite low and averages at about 11%.
Italy uses various grapes to create novello wine which include Barbera, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir, Refosco, Sangiovese and Ciliegiolo. The result of the rapid fermentation is a vibrant, vivid wine which is purple in color.
It is important to note that the French Beaujolais nouveau uses the carbonic maceration method for 100% of its grapes, whereas the Italian novella can use carbonic maceration for 100% of its grapes but is only required to use 40%, and the other 40% could be produced using the traditional fermentation method.
Now these are the basics when it comes to methods used but if you want to know something a bit more useful, it is good to keep in mind that these are low alcohol wines, that generally cost less and must be drunk by Spring time giving you a great excuse to stay in and enjoy an autumn meal with an autumn novello wine!