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  ABC Wine Issue 1, October 2002   
ItalyItaly  Contents 
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Italy


 Talking about Italy and its wines, it means, first of all, to start a long journey rich of history, culture, grapes, lots of grapes, millenarian traditions and a vastness of types of wines that it is hard to find in any other country of the world. From Alps to Sicily, among the lovely hills of the wonderful Italian views, it is almost impossible not to see, almost everywhere in the country, long and huge areas of vineyards. In Italy, vine is practically cultivated everywhere; it is present in every region and each of them has its typical and local grapes, sad to admit, they are almost forgotten or underrated, every Italian region makes wine and it is an essential part of their traditions since ever. By seeing this endless view of vineyards, it reminds you about the name the ancient Greeks were used to refer to Italy “Enotria Tellus”, that is the land of trained vines, a sure sign that the vine and wine were present and well established in Italy since Greek colonization times.


Italy and its regions
Italy and its regions

 It is believed that vine was introduced in Italy by Etruscans, the mythical people established in central Italy in ancient times, however there are historical signs that makes believe vine was already present before Etruscan times. Anyway, it is certain that Etruscans were the first ones to set the first forms of viticulture and to make wine in Italy. Etruscans understood since the very beginning the importance and the strategic role of vine and wine and, although they were not big wine drinkers, they had good commercial and economic benefits from wine and they even sold their wine in Bourgogne, France. However, Etruscans did not introduce vine and viticulture in other countries, perhaps because they did not want to tell others about the secret of their commercial success. The spreading of vine and wine, not only in the Italian territory, was widely contributed by the Romans that introduced vine and the custom of drinking wine everywhere they went and in every land they conquered.

 Even Greeks greatly contributed to the spreading of vine and wine in Italy, they did not only introduce new techniques of wine making and viticulture, they also introduced new and important vine species, most of them are still and widely spread in Italy and they are used to make excellent wine.

 By seeing the huge vastness of species and quantity of grapes present in the territory, in Italy there are more that 300 different grapes species, it seems that Mother Nature was particularly generous and wanted Italy to be the country of vine and wine. Unfortunately, the richness of grapes in Italy is not really appealing to the wine makers of this country, they often ignore this extraordinary resource not found in any other country of the world. Maybe, the charm of the so called “international grapes” and the fact that the wine made from them can be easily sold, do not make the consumers and the producers realize about the wines made from local grapes. They probably are considered as minor wines and less attractive, anyway they are surely good, these grapes are capable of making wine of unique pleasure and interest.

 The cultivation and the revaluation of the local grapes should be considered as an important aspect, something that producers should not take lightly; it is, at last, an explicit invitation to producers to revaluate and properly consider the huge richness of the grapes offered by their lands.


 

 Italian enology has witnessed in the past twenty years a real and dramatic revolution, mainly because of the drastic change of the wine consumption and because of the growing competition with producers from others countries, Italy changed its production style, mainly made of quantity, and started focusing on quality. Wine making is a historical tradition of Italy and it is widely spread in every part of the territory; every farm or agricultural business had a vineyard and made wine. Wine was considered as an indispensable resource for living, for centuries wine has been considered as food instead of a beverage, therefore the more, the better. Despite of some historical efforts, some of them were also rigid and drastic, conducted in some part of Italy in order to change the production style and to make rules for quality, the development of wine production in Italy flourished in the course of centuries without specific laws or restrictions leading to a massive production of quantity instead of quality. This aspect surely contributed to the decay of Italy in the international wine scene and led Italy out of the competition with other European countries, such as France, that favored a production of quality over quantity.

 The will and the comprehension of focusing on quality and the need to increase the quality of wines, emerged during the second half of the 1800. That time has been the beginning of the Italian enology renewal, a sure drastic change that finally led quality prevailing over quantity and the Italian wine started conquering the world again; Italy is now considered as one of the most important producers of quality wines. After having had an outstanding success with its famous and renowned wines of the Roman times, famous and acclaimed everywhere, and after the shameful decay of the Italian enology of the past centuries, Italian wines are finally took the right way, although slow but determined, to the world market and consumers from everywhere are looking for Italian wines again and are highly regarded.

 

The Italian Quality System

 The first attempts to make laws to legally promote the production of quality wines in Italy and to safeguard the viticultural areas were conducted at the beginning of the 1900. The first real quality system that set rules to guarantee the quality of wines and their place of origin, was introduced in 1963, when Italy had to introduce some EEC (European Economic Community) laws about wine's quality production and appellation of origin. The law n° 930 dated 12 February 1963 introduced for the first time in Italy an appellation of controlled origin and set a difference between “table wines” and quality wines. With this law Italy also introduced and recognized the EEC acronym VQPRD (Vino di Qualità Prodotto in Regione Determinata, Quality Wine Produced in Determined Region)

 The current Italian quality system is ruled by law 192 of the 1992 that fully replaced the precedent law of the 1963. Besides safeguarding the areas of quality production, this law set criteria and methods of quality production as well as the minimum requirements in order to entitle a wine to a specific appellation. The system primarily defines the geographic area of the appellation, grapes and proportions admitted for a specific wine production, the maximum yield per hectare, minimum percentage of alcohol by volume, the styles and types of wines recognized by the appellation system, the minimum time of aging before the wine can be sold, chemical and physical characteristics as well as organoleptic qualities.

 The quality system is made of appellation categories defining distinct quality classes ideally structured in a “pyramid of quality” where the apex represents the highest quality level possible. The categories defined by the system, starting from the lowest quality level to the highest, are defined as follows:

 

  • Vino da Tavola (Table Wine)
  • IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica, Typical Geographic Indication)
  • DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata, Appellation of Controlled Origin)
  • DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, Appellation of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin)

 Some appellation laws also allow optional use of special types, usually used for special wines made by particular production techniques and they must be written in the label with the following terms:

 

  • Classico (Classic) - is a wine produced in the most typical and renowned area of the appellation, for example Orvieto Classico
  • Superiore (Superior) - is a wine having a percentage of alcohol by volume higher than the normal requirement for the appellation, for example Bardolino Superiore
  • Riserva (Reserve) - is a wine that went through a longer aging process than the normal requirement for the appellation, for example Aglianico del Vulture Riserva

 The “Vino da Tavola” category, defined as the lowest quality level of the system, represent a paradox because there are some good and excellent wines belonging to it, they sometimes are even better than some DOCG wines. The reason of this paradox is because some producers do not agree with the quality criteria set by the Italian system and decide to make wine according their own quality criteria and standards and as they are not recognized by any of the levels of the system, the only quality appellation they can be entitled to is the lowest one.

 The Italian quality system, although being rigid about some aspects, does not actually guarantee the real quality of wines belonging to specific categories: the highest guarantee offered by the system is concerned to the area of origin of the wine. In theory, a wine producer located inside of an appellation area and whose wines have the minimum requirements set by the quality law for that area, has the full right to legally classify his or her wines according the legal system and therefore recognized as quality wines. Despite the Italian Government organize regular and legal tasting commissions in order to evaluate and entitle a specific product the rank of “quality wine”, it is too obvious that quality of a specific appellation of controlled origin area greatly varies from a producer to another. This aspect does not help the promotion of the area's real quality as well as not helping those producers who believe in quality and make quality wines and prefer, for traditional reasons or because of strategic decisions, to have their wines entitled as DOC or DOCG. This surely is a drawback for the credibility of the appellation for a specific area.

 The IGT category, (Indicazione Geografica Tipica, Typical Geographic Indication) defines wide production areas, they usually comprise a whole region, and allow the production of wine with grapes admitted and recommended in the area, usually a wide possibility of choices, set less restrictions and therefore gives more freedom to producers to make his or her own decisions about production methods. This category, although represents the first real level of the quality system legally recognized, actually include a good quantity of wines having a very good quality and it is rich of nice surprises. This category should be carefully considered by consumers because, recently, producers of quality wines prefer to have their wines on this categories and set their own quality standards.

 The DOC category (Denominazione di Origine Controllata, Appellation of Controlled Origin) defines an area, usually narrower than an IGT, having more rigid production criteria if compared to the preceding level.


DOCG wine seals
DOCG wine seals

 The last quality category, considered as the highest quality level of the system, the DOCG, (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, Appellation of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin) defines very limited and narrow production areas and having production criteria and evaluation more rigid and strict when compared to the others. Wine bottles belonging to this category must have a seal on the neck in order to guarantee the content of the bottle and to prevent any fraud or adulteration. These seals are numbered and show the name of the appellation and are issued by the Italian Government. (See figure )

 Government seals have different colors according to the type of the DOCG wine: light pink is for sparkling wines, light green is used for white wines whereas magenta identifies red wines.

 The appellation system also admit, where applicable, the indication of the name of a sub zone, such as a specific vineyard, farm or estate, or the name of the place of origin, in order to narrow and safeguard even more the quality a specific area having superior quality in respect to the rest of the appellation. This actually is an adaptation of the cru concept used in France.

 The Italian system also allow the usage of particular acronyms to be written in the labels of special quality wines, such as sparkling wines (“spumante” in Italian) or fortified wines. These indications all derive from the acronym VQPRD (Vino di Qualità Prodotto in Regione Determinata, Quality Wine Produced in Determined Region) introduced by the EEC laws to designate quality wines. The acronym VQPRD, scarcely used in Italy, should be written in every bottle of DOC and DOCG wine. The special acronyms used for special wines are:

 

  • VSQPRD - (Vino Spumante di Qualità Prodotto in Regione Determinata, Quality Sparkling Wine Produced in Determined Region) is a quality sparkling wine produced in a determined appellation of controlled origin area
  • VLQPRD - (Vino Liquoroso di Qualità Prodotto in Regione Determinata, Quality Fortified Wine Produced in Determined Region) is a quality fortified wine produced in a determined appellation of controlled origin area
  • VFQPRD - (Vino Frizzante di Qualità Prodotto in Regione Determinata, Quality Slightly Sparkling Wine Produced in Determined Region) is a quality slightly sparkling wine produced in a determined appellation of controlled origin area

 

Production Areas

 Italy, thanks to the characteristics of its territory suitable for viticulture, it is extremely rich in grapes as well as wine. The varieties of grapes found in Italy is extremely vast and rich like no other country in the world, here there are more than 300 different species of grapes. The diversity of the territory, mainly hilly, is well suited for the cultivation of vine and therefore to wine production. This particular condition makes you think, like the ancients Greeks did, that Italy is the land of the vine and of wine; the ancient name ancient Greeks used to call Italy was “Enotria Tellus”, that is “the land of trained vines”, a sign that wine culture and cultivation of vine is well established in this countries since many centuries: wine and vines have always been an important part of the Italian history and of the traditions of its people.

 If it is true that the quality of Italian wine had a dramatic decay during the past centuries, it is also true that the immense effort of the Italian producers in the past 50 years has led the quality of the Italian wines to important successes all over the world. The passion of many producers as well as the awareness of changing the production systems in order to start making quality wine, also because of the emerging competition with other countries and the increasing demand for quality wines, gave birth to a drastic change to the enology of every region. Differently from other countries, where the cultivation of the vine and the production of wine is limited to few areas compared to the entire surface of the territory, in every Italian region wine production is an important and well established fact and it is essential for the local economies. Every Italian region produces wine and every region has its local wines not found in the others; every region has its wines and its typical grapes.

 Besides the richness of local grapes, in Italy are cultivated a great amount of French species as well, they are usually referred as “international grapes”, such as Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon used to produce excellent wines. The trend of the Italian producers, probably because they want to meet the so called “international taste” pretty popular among consumers, is to make use of the “international” grapes along with local grapes, this trend is unfortunately getting more and more common. The Italian advantage in respect to other countries, that it the vastness of local grapes, should be highly regarded by producers. There are many and extraordinary examples of results that can be achieved by using local grapes, the elegance and the finesse of these wines are surely promising as well as interesting.

 Like we said, every Italian region produces wine and talking about Italian wine production in general terms would only give an incomplete idea and would not make much sense as every region has its proper characteristics. What follows is a detailed profile of the grapes and wines found in every region. Where applicable, the profile is completed with a full list of DOCG wines and, enclosed in parentheses, the grapes used for that specific appellation.

 

Valle d'Aosta

 This extraordinary and evocative region, where the cultivation of vine is limited, has a special record, here there are, in the communes of Morgex and La Salle at an altitude of 1300 meters above sea level (4265 feet), the highest vineyards of Europe; practically to the limit of survival for the vine. The whole region of Valle d'Aosta is recognized as DOC (Denominazione d'Origine Controllata, Appellation of Controlled Origin) and, according to the law for bilingualism, indications in the label are written both in Italian and in French.

 Even though the production is mainly focused on red wines, the production of white wines is excellent as well, mainly produced with local grapes, they are examples of elegance and finesse. Some good white wines of the region are the “Blanc de Morgex et La Salle”, produced with Blanc de Morgex grape, the refined “Chambave Moscato”, also produced as passito or “Flétri”. Among other white grapes of the region it is worth mentioning the Priè Blanc and Petite Arvine.

 The main red grapes of the region are Petit Rouge, Vien de Nus, Neyret, Dolcetto, Freisa, Nebbiolo, Pinot Nero, Gamay, Syrah and Fumin. Typical red wines of interest of the region are : “Enfer d'Arvier”, “Donnas”, “Torrette” and “Arnad Montjovet”.

 

Piedmont

 This region, generous producer of great red wines and refined white wines, offers a wide selection of production and grapes; here wines of many types are produced, from whites to reds, from lightly sparkling wines to sparkling wines. This is the homeland of some of the greatest Italian wines: Barolo, Barbaresco, Gavi, Gattinara, Ghemme and the renowned Asti Spumante and Brachetto.

 Although the region is mainly known for its red wines, here we also find an interesting production of white wines made with local grapes. Worth of note are the ones produced with Cortese grape, in particular the “Gavi”, the truly interesting Arneis, Favorita, Erbaluce used to produce an excellent passito wines as well as the almost unknown grapes Timorasso and Nas-cetta. Among the celebrities of the region, Asti Spumante and Moscato d'Asti are the most famous ones produced with white grapes, these two wines are renowned everywhere for their unmistakable aroma, they are produced with Moscato Bianco grape and this grape is used to produce the excellent Loazzolo as well.

 Among red grapes, the most prominent role is for Nebbiolo, the grape used to produce the renowned Barolo and Barbaresco as well as the less known ones, however interesting, such as Gattinara and Ghemme. Another important red grape of the region is Barbera which is used to produce well structured and generous wines. Other red grapes worth of note are Dolcetto, Bonarda, Freisa, Grignolino, Pelaverga, Ruchè, Malvasia di Schierano, Malvasia di Casorzo, Vespolina and Brachetto, the grape used to produce the renowned “Brachetto d'Acqui” having a strong aroma of strawberry and rose.

 

 DOCG wines: white: Gavi (Cortese) Moscato d'Asti (Moscato bianco) red: Barbaresco (Nebbiolo) Barolo (Nebbiolo) Brachetto d'Acqui (Brachetto) Gattinara (Nebbiolo, Vespolina) Ghemme (Nebbiolo, Vespolina, Bonarda Novarese) spumanti (sparkling): Asti spumante (Moscato bianco) Brachetto d'Acqui (Brachetto)

 

 

Lombardy

 The region in mainly famous for the production of red wines and for its excellent production of sparkling wines. In Valtellina, an area located to the north of the region, are produced excellent red wines from Nebbiolo (locally called as “Chiavennasca”) in particular the “Sforzato”, or “Sfursat” as they would call it, a powerful and full bodied wine produced with dried Nebbiolo grapes.

 In Franciacorta there is an important production of spumante, that is sparkling wines, they all come in different styles and are produced with “Metodo Classico” (Classic Method) by using Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Pinot Nero grapes. This area also produces good red wines. Another important wine area of the region is the “Oltrepò Pavese” where a good amount of wines are produced with Cortese, Riesling, Pinot Nero, Barbera and Bonarda grapes. Other interesting grapes of the region include the Trebbiano di Lugana used to produce the white wine Lugana, the Groppello, a typical grape of the Garda lake area, and the rare and precious Moscato di Scanzo, an interesting grape used to produce the wine having the same name, a wine that would surely deserve a better consideration.

 
DOCG wines: red: Valtellina superiore (Nebbiolo) spumanti (sparkling wines): Franciacorta (Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Nero)

 

Veneto

 The region, renowned for its excellent viticultural traditions, it is among the most productive ones of Italy. This is the homeland of famous wines such as Soave, Bardolino, Amarone della Valpolicella and others. Veneto is rich in good local white and red grapes. Among the white ones there are the Garganega, used to produce the Recioto di Soave, the Soave and the Recioto di Gambellara, the Prosecco grape used to produce the famous sparkling wine “Prosecco di Valdobbiadene e Conegliano”. Another white grape worth of note is the Vespaiola, an interesting grape used to produce the “Torcolato”, a refined passito wine of rare elegance and finesse.

 The most important red grapes of the region are the Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara; these are the grapes used to produce the Bardolino, the Valpolicella, the renowned Amarone and Recioto della Valpolicella. Another red grape of the region worth of note is the Raboso used to produce interesting red wines.

 
DOCG wines: white: Recioto di Soave (Garganega, Trebbiano di Soave) Soave superiore (Garganega, Trebbiano di Soave) red: Bardolino superiore (Corvina, Molinara, Rondinella)

 

Trentino-Alto Adige

 This region is one of the most interesting one of Italy for its quality wines and for the variety of selection. In the Alto Adige area, to the north of the region, are mainly cultivated non-Italian grapes used to make wines of high excellence. Among white grapes there are Gewürztraminer, Silvaner, Müller Thurgau, Riesling, Kerner, Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato Giallo and Pinot Blanc. Among red grapes there are Pinot Noir, capable of producing in this region wines of high excellence, the local Lagrein, used to produce interesting wines, Schiava Grossa and Schiava Gentile. Moscato Rosa is a very interesting grape of this area, it is used to produce an extraordinary sweet wine having the same name and a strong as well as evocative aroma of rose.

 Trentino, the southern area of the region, produces excellent wines, both white and red. Among the white grapes there are the Traminer, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Kerner, Pinot Blanc and Nosiola, a very interesting local grape used to produce a refined “Vinsanto”, an elegant passito wine. Among red grapes there are the famous Marzemino, it seems the renowned composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart particularly loved the wine made from this grape, Teroldego and other “international” grapes.

 In Trentino there is also an interesting production of “spumante metodo classico” made from Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes.

 

Friuli Venezia Giulia

 The cultivation of vine in this region has a long history and there are evidences of viticulture as ancient as 2000 years ago. The production is mainly focused on white wines. Friuli Venezia Giulia produces excellent white wines both with “international” grapes and, above all, with local grapes. Among white grapes there are the renowned Tocai Friulano, Malvasia Istriana, Ribolla Gialla, Verduzzo Friulano, used to produce excellent wines such as “Ramandolo”, and the rare and very excellent Picolit grape used to produce a very extraordinary and precious wine having the same name.

 Among red grapes there are interesting species such as the Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, Schioppettino, Pignolo, Tazzelenghe and Terrano.

 
DOCG wines: white: Ramandolo (Verduzzo Friulano)

 

Liguria

 The cultivation of vine in this region is particularly hard because of the morphology of the land and the modest quantity of the yield of the vintage is gathered with remarkable efforts. However, Liguria produces wines of high quality having particular organoleptic characteristics because of the vicinity of the sea to the vineyards. The most important white grapes of the region are Vermentino, Albarola and Bosco, all used to produce the famous “Cinque Terre” wine and with the same grapes, partially dried, is produced the excellent and rare “Schiacchetrà” as well. Another famous white grape of this area is Pigato.

 Although the production of red wines is not vast, it is interesting anyway. The most important red grapes of Liguria are Ormeasco, the name used in Liguria to refer to Dolcetto grape, Rossese and Ciliegiolo.

 

Emilia Romagna

 The huge production of the region is distributed between Emilia, the western side where lightly sparkling wines are mainly produced, and Romagna, the easter side where the production is mainly concerned to still wines. The main white grapes of Emilia include Ortrugo, Pignoletto and Malvasia di Candia. The red grapes, with the exception of Barbera and Croatina used to produce the “Gutturnio” wine, mainly belong to the “Lambrusco” family used to produce the famous wine having the same name. The Lambrusco is mainly produced as lightly sparkling. Other red grapes worth of note are Fortana and Ancellotta, usually used along with Lambrusco.

 In Romagna, where they love still wines instead of lightly sparkling ones, there are some white grapes including the Albana, the most renowned white grape of the area, Trebbiano Romagnolo and Bombino Bianco, here known as “Pagadebit”. The Sangiovese is the main red grape of the area as well as Cagnina, name used in Romagna to call the Terrano grape.

 
DOCG wines: white: Albana di Romagna (Albana)

 

Tuscany

 Viticultural tradition of Tuscany is as ancient as Etruscan times and in this region the production is mainly focused on red wines. The Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Carmignano and Morellino di Scansano are just some examples of red wines of Tuscany. Production of white wines is interesting as well but it is usually ignored because of the huge quantity of red wines available in this region. White grapes of Tuscany include Vernaccia di San Gimignano, used to produce a wine having the same name, Trebbiano Toscano, Malvasia Bianca, Malvasia di Candia, Vermentino and Ansonica grapes, name used in Tuscany to refer to Inzolia.

 Sangiovese is the most important grape of the region, widely spread and cultivated in the area, as well as Sangiovese grosso, Canaiolo Nero and Mammolo.

 
DOCG wines: white: Vernaccia di San Gimignano (Vernaccia) red: Brunello di Montalcino (Sangiovese grosso) Carmignano (Sangiovese, Canaiolo nero, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc) Chianti Classico (Sangiovese, Canaiolo nero, Malvasia, Trebbiano) Chianti - sub zones: Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Senesi, Colline Pisane, Montalbano, Montespertoli, Rufina (Sangiovese, Canaiolo nero, Malvasia, Trebbiano) Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (Sangiovese grosso, Canaiolo nero)

 

Umbria

 The “green heart of Italy”, name usually used to call Umbria, is considered by many, enologically speaking, as the Bourgogne of Italy, has viticultural and enological traditions as ancient as Etruscan times and its wines were famous since then. The most renowned white one and one of the most ancient wines of this region is “Orvieto”, a wine that is still famous all over the world. White grapes of the region include Grechetto, a local grape used to produce a wine having the same name, Malvasia Bianca, Malvasia di Candia and Verdello.

 Among red grapes, a relevant role is played by the local Sagrantino used to produce a well structured and full bodied wine having the same name in the Montefalco area. Sangiovese is widely spread in Umbria as well and it is almost present in every red wine of the region, such as the renowned red wines of Torgiano. Other red grapes of the region include Barbera, Canaiolo Nero, Ciliegiolo, Montepulciano and, in the Trasimeno lake area, among the rare cases in Italy, Gamay is cultivated and used to produce very interesting wines.

 
DOCG wines: red: Sagrantino di Montefalco (Sagrantino) Torgiano Riserva (Sangiovese, Canaiolo nero, Montepulciano, Ciliegiolo)

 

Marches

 This region has interesting and rich enological resources and, among the most famous and renowned white wines, here we have the “Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi” and “Verdicchio di Matelica”. Red wine production is interesting as well and the most important ones of the region are “Rosso Conero” and “Rosso Piceno”.

 White grapes of the Marches include Verdicchio, Malvasia Bianca, Passerina, Biancame, Trebbiano Toscano and Pecorino. Sangiovese and Montepulciano are the most important red grapes of the region and they are used to produce “Rosso Conero” and “Rosso Piceno”. Other red grapes worth of note are Vernaccia di Serrapetrona, used to produce a wine having the same name, and Lacrima di Morro.

 

Latium

 Wines of Latium were famous since Roman times and here the production is mainly focused on white wines. Frascati, Castelli Romani and Est! Est!! Est!!! di Montefiascone are just some of the many renowned white wines produced in Latium. The region is rich in white grapes and they represent the majority of the yield. White grapes of Latium include Trebbiano Toscano, Malvasia del Lazio, Malvasia Bianca, Malvasia Toscana, Bellone, Bombino Bianco, Greco Bianco and Trebbiano Giallo.

 Even though production of red wines is very limited, the region has good red grapes varieties and in good quantities such as the local Cesanese, Sangiovese, Montepulciano and Aleatico.

 

Abruzzi

 Just like the majority of the Italian regions, Abruzzi has a very ancient viticultural tradition. Its wines were very famous since Roman times and enological tradition is still well established and represented by the present production. There are two wines that led Abruzzi to celebrity: Trebbiano d'Abruzzo and Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. The former is produced with Bombino Bianco grape, although in Abruzzi they call this grape “Trebbiano d'Abruzzo”; the latter is produced with Montepulciano grape that in Abruzzi is capable of making wines of excellence.

 Other white grapes of the region include Passerina, Pecorino, Biancame, Cococciola, whereas red grapes, even though in limited quantities, include Sangiovese, Aglianico and Canaiolo Nero.

 

Molise

 This lovely region, particularly well suited for viticulture because of its hilly territory as well as a favorable climate, does not have a relevant production of wine, but the wine produced in this region is surely interesting and deserves a better consideration.

 White grapes of Molise include Falanghina, Trebbiano Toscano, Bombino Bianco, Fiano, Greco Bianco and Moscato Reale, used to produce an excellent passito wine. Red grapes include Aglianico, Montepulciano and Sangiovese.

 

Campania

 The enological patrimony of Campania is extremely rich, also because of the ancient viticultural tradition that highly contributed to its celebrity since ancient times. It is believed that viticulture in Campania was present even before the time Greeks came to Italy.

 Production is equally distributed between white and red wines. The renowned “Greco di Tufo” and “Taurasi” are just a couple of the many good examples that could be mentioned when talking about Campanian wines.

 The richness of the grapes patrimony of the Campania is truly vast and white grapes include Greco Bianco, Falanghina, Fiano, Coda di Volpe, Biancolella, Asprinio and Forastera. Among red grapes Aglianico is surely the most important one. Other red grapes include Piedirosso, locally called “Per' e Palummo”, Guarnaccia and Sciascinoso.

 
DOCG wines: red: Taurasi (Aglianico)

 

Apulia

 Apulia is one of the most productive regions of Italy and it is well suited for viticulture. This region produces more grapes than any other Italian region. Production is mainly focused on red wines, anyway, there are good examples of white wines as well, such as the renowned “Locorotondo”.

 White grapes of Apulia include Bianco d'Alessano, Malvasia Bianca, Verdeca, Bombino Bianco, Fiano and Greco Bianco. Red grapes include Negroamaro, an extraordinary grape capable of producing structured wines, particularly in the Salento area where they make “Salice Salentino” from it, Primitivo, another excellent Apulian grape used to produce the structured and full bodied “Primitivo di Manduria”, Malvasia Nera, Montepulciano, Uva di Troia, Aglianico and Aleatico.

 

Basilicata

 The production of this region is mainly and almost uniquely focused on the only great wine of the area, Aglianico del Vulture, produced with the Aglianico, a grape that in Basilicata, in the Vulture area to the north of the region, is capable of producing excellent wines with good structure and full body. Aglianico is practically the only red grape cultivated in Basilicata, whereas white grapes include Fiano, Malvasia Bianca and Greco Bianco.

 

Calabria

 Calabria has a very ancient enological tradition, viticulture in this region was probably present before the Greeks came to Italy. The production is mainly focused on red wines. The most cultivated grape of the region is Gaglioppo, an interesting red grape of great potentiality and used to make the most renowned wines of the region: Cirò Rosso and Savuto. Other red grapes include Magliocco Canino, Nerello Cappuccio and Aglianico.

 White grapes of the region, representing the minority of the production, include Greco Bianco, used to produce the excellent “Greco di Bianco”, Malvasia Bianca and Mantonico.

 

Sicily

 Sicily, a noble region rich in culture and traditions, has an excellent enological tradition and in this island we find one of the most famous and representative wines of Italy: Marsala. Sicily has an interesting production of white and red wines, as well as sweet and passito wines, probably the most renowned production of the region, and, last but not the least, fortified wines, such as Marsala.

 White grapes of Sicily include Inzolia, Catarratto, Grillo, the three grapes used to produce Marsala and other white wines, Moscato di Alessandria, locally called Zibibbo, used to produce the excellent Passito di Pantelleria, Malvasia delle Lipari, used along with Corinto Nero to produce the extraordinary and famous Malvasia delle Lipari wine.

 Red grapes, widely spread in the region, can make interesting, well structured and full bodied wines. The main red grapes are Nero d'Avola, Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Frappato and Perricone.

 

Sardinia

 This region, extremely rich in culture and traditions, has been influenced by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans and Spaniards. They all introduced viticultural techniques in the island as well as many grape varieties, nowadays well established and spread in the region that are now considered as local.

 Sardinia produces excellent white and red wines as well as passito wines. A wine worth of the best attention is the extraordinary “Vernaccia di Oristano”, an excellent wine produced with a grape having the same name. This wine would surely deserve a better consideration among wine lovers for its unique aromas and elegance.

 The main white grapes of Sardinia are Vermentino, used to produce the “Vermentino di Gallura”, Vernaccia di Oristano, Malvasia di Sardegna, Nuragus, Nasco, Semidano and Torbato.

 Red grapes include Cannonau, the most cultivated and renowned red grape of the island, Carignano, Bovale, Monica, Nieddera and Girò.

 
DOCG wines: white: Vermentino di Gallura (Vermentino)

 

Conclusion

 In the regional profiles, we did not intentionally mentioned the so called “international grapes”, mainly of French origin, because we wanted to focus on the vast and huge richness of Italian local grapes. This does not mean, of course, that “international” grapes are not cultivated in Italy, on the contrary, they are widely spread all over the territory and have an important and fundamental role in the Italian enology as well as being among the most cultivated species. White grapes include a huge production of Chardonnay, followed by Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris. Red grapes include huge quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon, then Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Nero and Syrah.

 




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  ABC Wine Issue 1, October 2002   
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