Italian wines


WINES OF ITALY 

 

There is no other country on earth with a wine culture like that of Italy. There are over 2000 indigenous varieties (native grapes) spread throughout this beautiful country. Each of Italy's 20 regions is home to a unique viticultural industry, from the cool climates in the northeast such as Alto Adige and Friuli to the warm, sunny zones of the south such as Campania, Puglia and Sicily. Be it delicious whites with vibrant acidity or powerful reds that age for decades, Italian wines present every color in the rainbow, viticulturally speaking!
While millions of wine drinkers love Italian wines, the subject can be a bit overwhelming and somewhat confusing, so most people need a guide to help them understand the difference between a Valpolicella and a Valtellina.

The Italian Wine Classification system (similar to the U.S. appellation system) is made up of four categories:

Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG)
This classification denotes the highest quality recognition for Italian wines. It is comprised of a relatively limited number of first-class wines.
Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC)
Basically the equivalent of the French wine classification, Appellation d'Origine Controlee (AOC). Wines that fall under the DOC category must be made in specified, government defined zones, in accordance to particular regulations that are intended to preserve the wine's character that is uniquely derived from Italy's individual regions.
Table Wine Categories
Indicazione di Geografica Tipica (IGT)

These table wines are often ubiquitous wines that are grown in a specific geographical growing regions. However, there are exceptions - some of Italy's best wines do fall under this category just to avoid more stringent regulations associated with DOC or DOCG.
Vino Da Tavola (VdT)
This designates wines that reside firmly on the "low end" of the totem pole. Comprised of Italian table wines, whose only criteria is that they must be produced somewhere in Italy.

Wine label

 

The primary pieces of information that Italian wines want to communicate to you, their celebrated consumer, are the wine's: Name, Growing Region (There are 37 designated wine growing regions in Italy), Grape Type (Italy has over 2,000!), Estate and Producer Names, Alcohol Content, Vintage Year and Classification (Vdt, IGT, DOC, DOCG - government appellation designations related to volume, location and quality). If you can grab these key pieces of information off of an Italian wine label then you are good to go.

wine regions

veneto

Veneto is among the foremost wine-producing regions, both for quality and quantity. The region counts over 20 DOC zones and a variety of sub-categories, many of its wines, both dry and Spumanti, are internationally known and appreciated.
The three most well known DOCs are Bardolino, from the town with the same name and surrounding the shores of Garda Lake, Valpolicella, and Soave. Other noteworthy wines produced here are the white Bianco di Custoza, the excellent sparkling Prosecco, the Breganze, and the Amarone (a rich and powerful red from the Verona province). If you travel to the Treviso area, look for the little-known Clinton, a wine that is banned from distribution because it does not conform to the DOC standards, but is produced in limited quantities for local consumption.
Tuscany produces seven DOCGs wines – Chianti which includes seven subzones, Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, Carmignano, Vernaccia di San Gimignano and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – and 44 DOCs including Bolgheri or Bolgheri Sassicaia, Valdichiana, Bianco della Valdinievole and Ansonica Costa dell'Argentario among many others.
The region vineyards cover 63,633 hectares or 157,237 acres; yearly wine production is 2,156,000 hectoliters or 56,961,690 gallons; 30% white, 70% red; 55.5% is DOC.
veneto wines
whites
Arcole, Bagnoli di Sopra or Bagnoli, Bianco di Custoza, Breganze, Colli Berici, Colli di Conegliano, Colli Euganei, Gambellara, Garda, Garda and Garda Classico, Lison-Pramaggiore, Lugana, Merlana, Montello e Colli Asolani, Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene, Recioto di Soave, an Martino della Battaglia, Soave, Vicenza, Vini del Piave:
reds
Bardolino, Breganze, Colli Berici, Colli di Conegliano, Colli Euganei, Garda,
Lison-Pramaggiore, Merlana, Montello e Colli Asolani, Valpolicella, Vicenza, Vini del Piave:

Sicily (island)

Sicily has more vineyards than any of the other Italian regions competing with Apulia for first place as the largest wine producer. Yet, Sicilians consume less wine per capita than any other Italian.
Many grapes are made into raisins, used in local cooking, and Sicilian grapes also play a large role in creating dessert wines, which require a higher concentration of grapes and are consumed in smaller quantities. In fact, in the world of international wine, Sicily is renowned for the many outstanding dessert wines, such as the world-famous Marsala.
Though dessert wines account for about 90% of the total DOC production, we shouldn't disregard the several good reds and whites that are produced all over the island by both large producers such as the Conte di Salaparuta, which makes the well-known Corvo, Regaleali and Rapitalà, and the smaller estates such as Donnafugata, Consorzio Agrario Provinciale di Trapani, and Fontanarossa among others.
If you happen to travel to the island around November 11, the day dedicated by the catholic church to Saint Martin, look for signs announcing the local Festa del Vino or "Festival of the Wine". It is believed that on this date the new wine is ready for consumption, hence the saying: Il giorno di San Martino il mosto diventa vino or "On Saint Martin's Day the grape juice becomes wine".
Sicily produces 19 DOCs including four Moscato – di Noto Naturale or di Noto, di Pantelleria Naturale or di Pantelleria, di Passito di Pantelleria or Passito di Pantelleria and di Siracusa – Marsala, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Malvasia delle Lipari and Sambuca di Sicilia among others.
The region vineyards cover 133,518 hectares or 329,923 acres; yearly wine production is 8,073,000 hectoliters or 213,000,000 gallons of which 2.1% is DOC.
Sicily Wines
Whites
Alcamo, Contea di Sclafani, Contessa Entellina, Delia Novolelli, Etna, Malvasia delle Lipari, Marsala, Menfi, Monreale, Moscato di Noto Naturale or Moscato di Noto:
Moscato di Pantelleria Naturale or Moscato di Pantelleria:
Moscato di Passito di Pantelleria or Passito di Pantelleria, Moscato di Siracusa:
Riesi, Sambuca di Sicilia, Santa Margherita del Belice, Sciacca:

Reds
Alcamo, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Contea di Sclafani, Contessa Entellina, Delia Novolelli, Eloro, Etna, Faro, Marsala, Menfi:

Piedmont

With 46 different DOC and four DOCG areas, Piedmont is the region that produces the largest number of best known, noble, and world-appreciated prize-winning wines, such as Barbera, Barolo, Barbaresco, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Grignolino, Malvasia and Asti Spumante among others.
Another distinguished characteristic of Piedmont is that most of its wines are produced on family estates made up of relatively small parcels of land.
The main grape grown here is the distinguished Nebbiolo, which is the base for the famed Barolo, Barbaresco and Gattinara among others. Its name derives from the word nebbia, or fog, because of a velvety, whitish coating over its berries in addition to the fact that it grows in an area where, at ripening time in September, heavy morning fog is a given and the humidity that it provides gives the grapes an ideal habitat.
The production of strong reds is predominant in this landlocked, mountainous region and are the perfect complement to the rich and hearty cuisine featuring white truffles, fonduta, which is a variation of the Swiss cheese fondue, rice, meats, pastas and stuffed vegetables.
piedmont wines
Whites
Asti, Canavese, Colli Tortonesi, Colline Novaresi, Cortese dell'Alto Monferrato, Coste del Sesia:
Erbaluce di Caluso or Caluso, Gavi or Cortese di Gavi, Langhe, Loazzolo, Monferrato, Piemonte, Roero:
Reds
Albugnano, Barbaresco, Barbera d'Alba, Barbera d'Asti, Barbera del Monferrato, Barolo, Boca, Brachetto d'Acqui or Acqui, Bramaterra, Canavese, Carema, Cisterna d'Asti, Colli Tortonesi, Collina Torinese, Colline Novaresi, Colline Saluzzesi, Coste del Sesia, Dolcetto d'Acqui, Dolcetto d'Alba, Dolcetto d'Asti, Dolcetto delle Langhe Monregalesi, Dolcetto di Diano d'Alba or Diano d'Alba, Dolcetto di Dogliani, Dolcetto di Ovada, Fara, Freisa d'Asti, Freisa di Chieri, Gabiano, Gattinara, Ghemme, Grignolinno del Monferrato Casalese, Grignolino d'Asti, Langhe, Lessona, Malvasia di Casorzo d'Asti, Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco, Malvasia d, Castelnuovo Don Bosco, Monferrato, Nebbiolo d'Alba, Piemonte, Pinerolese, Roero, Rubino di Cantavenna, Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato, Sizzano, Valsusa, Verduno Pelaverga or Verduno:
Rosé
Albugnano, Canavese, Colli Tortonesi, Collina Torinese, Coste del Sesia, Malvasia di Casorz, d'Asti, Monferrato, Pinerolese:
   

Lombardy

Lombardy produces two DOCGs wines – Franciacorta and Valtellina Superiore – and 15 DOCs including Garda Classico, Oltrepó Pavese, Cellatica and Botticino among others.
The region vineyards cover 26,951 hectares or 66,593 acres; yearly wine production is 1,665,000 hectoliters or 43,989,432 gallons; 38% white, 62% red; 47.3% is DOC.

Campania

Records show that wine making has been going on in this region since the 13th century B.C. As much else in this region, traditionally wines are intended for immediate pleasure and consumption. This has led many to consider the local wines as second-class products, a thought strongly expressed by Burton Anderson in his 1990 "Wine Atlas of Italy", where he bluntly states that the noteworthy winemakers in the region could be "counted on one’s fingers".
The last decades of the last century though, have seen a dynamic resurgence in Campania and distinctive wines have popped up in many provinces, bringing the DOC denominations from nine in 1975 to 19 by the end of 2000.
Especially in the Taurasi DOCG zone, a handful of winemakers have been pro-actively producing wide arrays of notable reds and whites that have acquired national respect. In addition to Taurasi, there are two other “boutique” reds that debuted in 1994 and have since acquired a respectable status in Italy.
The arguably best-known Campania wine is the Lacrima Christi or, “Tears of Christ”.
campania wines
Whites

Aglianico del Taburno or Taburno, Asprinio di Aversa, Aversa, Campi Flegrei, Capri, Castel San Lorenzo, Cilento, Costa d'Amalfi, Falerno del Massico, Fiano di Avellino, Galluccio,  Greco di Tufo, Guardia Saframondi or Guardiolo, Ischia, Penisola Sorrentina, Sannio, Sant'Agata dei Goti, Solopaca, Vesuvio:
Reds
Aglianico del Taburno or Taburno, Campi Flegrei, Capri, Castel San Lorenzo, Cilento, Costa d'Amalfi, Falerno del Massico, Galluccio, Ischia, Penisola Sorrentina, Sannio, Sant'Agata dei Goti, Solopaca, Taurasi, Vesuvio:
Rosé
Aglianico del Taburno or Taburno, Castel San Lorenzo, Cilento, Costa d'Amalfi, Galluccio:
Sannio, Sant'Agata dei Goti, Solopaca, Vesuvio:

Apulia

Apulia produces more wine than any other Italian region usually making up around 17% of the national total. It also competes with Sicily for first place as grape producer. For a long time much of the wine made here was shipped north to Turin were it was used to make Vermouth, or to France where it was used to give structure to French wines when the local harvest was either poor or insufficient.
In recent years, Pugliese vintners have changed their views and tastes and are pursuing wines that effectively balance sweetness, acid, alcohol content and density.
Apulia counts 25 DOC wines including the Primitivo di Manduria, a red named after the grape with the same name that a California researcher, Carole Meredith, proved to have the same DNA as the American Zinfandel, the appreciated and prize-winning California Grape. The Accademia dei Racemi, an association that brings together vintners, agronomists and oenologists is dedicated to promoting and enhancing the quality of wine production in the region. Under the leadership of Mr. Gregory Polucci, it produces an excellent Primitivo and is experimenting with Zinfandel grapes imported from the USA.
A special mention should be made of Salice Salentino, a powerful red produced in the Lecce province. It is made primarily with Negro Amaro and has gained an enthusiastic following abroad because of the excellent ratio quality-price.
Apulia Wines
whites
Castel del Monte, Galatina, Gioia del Colle, Gravina, Leverano, Lizzano, Locorotondo, Martina or Martina Franca, Moscato di Trani, Ostuni, Salice Salentino, San Severo:
Reds
Aleatico di Puglia, Alezio, Brindisi, Cacc'e Mmitte di Lucera, Castel del Monte, Copertino, Galatina, Gioia del Colle, Leverano, Lizzano, Matino, Nardò, Orta Nova, Ostuni, Primitivo di Manduria, Rosso di Barletta, Rosso di Canosa or Canisium, Rosso di Cerignola, Salice, Salentino, San Severo, quinzano:
Rosé
Alezio, Brindisi, Castel del Monte, Copertino, Galatina, Gioia del Colle, Leverano, Lizzano, Matino, Nardò, Orta Nova, Salice Salentino, San Severo:

Tuscany

Tuscany's winemaking industry counts on one of the most noble and ancient traditions that predates the universally known Chianti wine that often springs to mind when this region is discussed.
Long before the first Etruscans made their appearance, wild vines grew in abundance all over the sunny rolling hills of Tuscany. The Etruscans are believed to have domesticated and bred the forbearers of such grapes as the Sangiovese and the Lambrusco from those early feral grapes. No matter where or how the first vines originated, grapes and the much sought after wines they were made into have been celebrated in local literature throughout all historic times of the region, and even farther back to the paintings and pottery decorations of those original ancient Etruscans.
The hilly soil and the weather conditions of Tuscany are ideal for grape growing and, with the passing centuries, the numerous types of grapes grown gave rise to some rare and much loved varieties. Nowadays, the most grown variety is the noble Sangiovese, which is often combined with small amounts of locally grown Cabernet Sauvignon, Canaiolo, Ciliegiolo and other grapes into wonderful blends such as the Brunello di Montalcino, Morellino di Scansano, Carmignano and, of course, the signature Tuscan wines, the Chianti and Chianti Classico, which probably are the best known Italian wines in the world. Other grapes grown here are the Mammolo, Malvasia, Colorino, Raspirosso, Gamay, Grand Noir, Barbera, Moscatello, Aleatico and Vernaccia, among others.
Tuscany accounts for over thirty DOC and half a dozen of DOCG wines. In addition to the great, well-known and appreciated reds, the local production includes a few distinguishable whites, the most notable among them being, without doubt, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Other delicious whites include the Bianco d'Elba, from the Elba Island, Bianco di Bolgheri, Vermentino, Bianco di Pitigliano and Bianco di Val di Nievole. (Bianco in Italian means, "white").
Last but not least, we can't forget the famous Vin Santo, or “Holy Wine”, a dessert delicacy usually made from Trebbiano grapes that have been left to dry in an airy place until the start of Holy Week before being made into wine.
Tuscany Wines
whites
Ansonica Costa dell'Argentario, Barco Reale di Carmignano or Carmignano, Bianco, dell'Empolese, Bianco della Valdinievole, Bianco di Pitigliano, Bianco Pisano di San Torpè, Bolgheri or Bolgheri Sassicaia, Candia di Colli Apuani, Capalbio, Colli dell'Etruria Centrale, Colli di Luni, Colline Lucchesi, Cortona, Elba, Montecarlo, Montecucco, Monteregio di Massa Marittima, Montescudaio, Moscadello di Montalcino, Orcia, Parrina, Pomino, San Gimignano, Sant'Antimo, Val d'Arbia, Val di Cornia or Val di Cornia Suvereto, Valdichiana, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Vin Santo del Chianti, Vin Santo del Chianti Classico, Vin Santo di Montepulciano:
Reds
Barco Reale di Carmignano or Carmignano, Bolgheri or Bolgheri Sassicaia, Brunello di Montalcino, Capalbio, Carmignano, Chianti, Chianti Classico, Colli dell'Etruria Centrale, Colli di Luni, Colline Lucchesi, Cortona, Elba, Montecarlo, Montecucco, Monteregio di Massa Marittima, Montescudaio, Morellino di Scansano, Orcia, Parrina, Pomino, Rosso di Montalcino, Rosso di Montepulciano, San Gimignano, Sant'Antimo, Sovana, Val di Cornia or Val di Cornia Suvereto, Valdichiana, Vin Santo del Chianti, Vin Santo del Chianti Classico, Vin Santo di Montepulciano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano:
Rosé
Barco Reale di Carmignano or Carmignano, Capalbio, Colli dell'Etruria Centrale, Cortona:
Elba, Monteregio di Massa Marittima, Parrina, San Gimignano, Sovana:

Sardina

It's well-known that soil composition and climate play an important role in grape growing and wine production. Such a favorable combination of such elements contributed to making the Vermentino di Gallura one of the only four Italian DOCG white wines. The Vermentino, with its delicate aromas of fruit and hint of almonds in the finish, is a wine to be drunk young. In addition to being the perfect complement to all kinds of seafood recipes, from shrimp salads to elaborate seafood platters with vegetables and smoked cernia or swordfish, this wine is delicious as an exciting aperitif for all occasions. The Vermentino di Gallura DOCG finesse comes from the combination of ongoing quality control, the richness of the granite decomposition of soil and the microclimate where the original grapes are grown.
In Gallura, the Moscato and Nebbiolo grapes thrive as well. The spumante-dolce version of the 'Moscato di Tempio DOC' is among the most delicate and appreciated dessert wines produced on the island. The red Nebbiolo, known as 'Nebbiolo di Luras', has recently met with a widespread success among wine lovers.
Sardina Wines
whites
Alghero, Aborea, Malvasia di Bosa, Malvasia di Cagliari, Moscato di Cagliari, Moscato di Sardegna, Moscato di Sorso-Sennori, Nasco di Cagliari, Nuragus di Cagliari, Sardegna Semidano, Vermentino di Gallura, Vermentino di Sardegna, Vernaccia di Oristano:
Reds
Alghero, Arborea, Campidano di Terralba or Terralba, Cannonau di Sardegna, Carignano del Sulcis, Girò di Cagliari, Mandrolisai, Monica di Cagliari, Monica di Sardegna:
Rosé
Alghero, Arborea, Cannonau di Sardegna, Carignano del Sulcis, Mandrolisai

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