Italy has been renowned for producing some great wines for centuries and is the second largest country in regard to wine production worldwide next to France.
Italy is classed as being in the “old World” wines so what does that mean?
“Old World” relates to the traditional regions in Europe and the Middle East where wine is produced and “New World”
relates to all the other regions so generally geographical. That said due to the differences in Geography this leads to other differences such as climate, New World regions tend to be warmer which generally produces a fuller bodied wine and have bolder fruit flavors and tend to be higher in alcohol. Old World wines on the other hand generally tend to be lighter bodied with more earthy components however have the heritage of being made the same way for many years and highly regulated by the Countries where they are produced.
In addition to this wine lovers tend to prefer either “old World” or “New World” wines and may even refer to Old World being more traditional methods whilst the New World using advanced producing process and mass production and Worldwide brand awareness.
Italy’s vineyards collectively have more than 2,000 grape varieties, most of which are is short supply and at risk of extinction. The best-known grapes include Barbera, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Montepulciano and Pinot Grigio which can be found in many of the regions throughout the country.
Many Wine Regions Italy
Apart from the vast amount of table wines, cooking wines and vermouth Italy produces there are 3 major regions that do produce high quality wines. These regions are Veneto, Piedmont and Tuscany.
Italian wines are graded, the best ones are graded “DOC” wines which means controlled designation of origin which is a quality label / stamp not just for wine but also cheeses. “D.O.C.G.” is the highest level of all Italian wines.
So let’s look at the three best and most well-known wine regions in Italy.
(known for red wines and sparkling white Moscato d’Asti). Piedmont is situated in North West Italy and produces the most D.O.C.G. wines that any other wine region in Italy.
The region is situated at the foot of the western Alps which have a vast impact on the climate but also technology advances in wines making have been introduced here thus delivering some better quality wines.
Some well respected names from the region include names such as Barbaresco, Barolo and Barbera d’Asti that produce some tannic and floral red wines and in total 65% of all wines produced are red and 35% are white. In addition the most popular wine has been the sparkling white Moscato d’Asti.
The nebiolo grape produces light-coloured red wines that are tannic and bold and great for aging whilst Barolo develops a rich perfume with a hint of liquorice, rose and truffle. Other popular grapes grown in Piedmont are Barbera and Dolcetto, of which are considered more “everyday” wines. These wines are often enjoyed young and have soft tannins, which makes them versatile in enjoying with more variety of foods. Barbera wines are generally fruity and rich while Dolchetto is well-balanced.
Situated in central Italy is the most famous wine region in Italy which rolling hills and countryside that is often used in advertisements promoting Italy. That aside the wines from the region including Chianti, Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello. The region is known for great reds but also dry whites such as vernaccia di san Gimignano and sweet wines Vin Santo and the red Elba Aleatico Passito.
The climate in the region is warm and differences from the coastal areas and the inland hilly areas which give a variation to the conditions which helps balance the grapes sugar and acidity. One grape that does particularly well in these conditions is Sangiovese which produces tannic, acidic wines that span a range of flavors depending on the local environment: from earthy to, often, fruity. Chianti is made with at least 80 percent Sangiovese. Brunello di Montalcino is made with 100% sanfgiovese grapes. Tuscany’s best white wine is Vernaccia di San Gimignano which is made from the Vernaccia grape that produces a crisp, citrus flavor.
Is situated in the North East corner of Italy and is slightly smaller than other wine producing regions in Italy but actually produces more than the others. Some most well-known wines from the region include wines such as Valpolicella, Prosecco, Soave and Amarone.
Italy Wine Regions
The region’s cool climate near the Alps helps grow fresh and crisp white wines such as Soave, made from Gargenega grapes. From the warmer areas, close to the Adriatic and Lake Garda, notable red wines such as Valpolicella, Amarone and Bardolino are produced but overall the region delivers a solid portfolio or red wines but also aray of refreshing white wines. The Veneot region can be split into three areas, Northwest in the foothill of the Alps to the eastern edge of Lake Garda that has a cooler climate where fresh crisp whites can be produced.
East of Lake Garda sits Valpolicella that produces fruity red wines whilst east from Valpolicella is Soave, where the big bold white wine is produced. Gargganega and Trebbiano grapes are the most prominent varieties here.
In central Veneto you can find Colli Berici, Breganze and Colli Euganei and on the lower plains you can find Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Carmenere and Cabernet Sauvignon not forgetting Pinot Grigio and Tocai Friulano.
The northest of the region are where some good quality Prosecco is produced due to the area producing a lot of Glera grapes which is used in producing Prosecco and the foaming spumante and semi-sparkling frizzante wines it creates. There are other good quality wines also produced for this area such as Lison, Lison-Pramaggiore, Montello e Collo Asolani and Colli di Conegliano.
I hope that you have enjoyed this article and if you have any comments on any of the points covered in this article please leave a comment below.