Italian Wine Guide


Italy is with France the most important wine producer in the world with an impressive variety of wines produced by a country of this size.

Italy has wine sites inherit from its ancient past. The Alps and the Apennine Mountains affect the landscape of the country. The wine regions have three types of soil. The argilo-calcareous soils are in Venetia, Piedmont and Chianti. The volcanic soils are the basis for the Soave wines and the Lacryma Christi at the foot of Mount Vesuvius. The few flat vineyards in Italy have alluvial soil type.

The Italian winters are very harsh particularly in high altitudes. The combined influences of the Mediterranean Sea and the Alps give a long maturation period for the grapes. Indeed, the country has the latest harvest in Europa. The Mediterranean climate gives dry summers and rainy winters. But there is a high risk of frost for the Italian vineyards.

History of the wine in Italy

Vines were introduced in Italy by the Greek settlers eight hundred years B.C. They give this country the name «Oenotria», the land of vine. During the Roman period the viticulture knew major improvements thanks to the progress in winemaking and grapes culture. The fall of Rome was not the end of Italy's wine sector. In fact, the small cities which divides the country worked against each other’s to protect their cultural differences, like their grapes and wine customs. The rivalry between all the small Italian States explains the extraordinary diversity of the wine culture.

After World War II, the rising of middle class led to a higher demand in quality wines and an economic growth required to produce great wines. The production in high quality wines was brought thanks to modern technologies, smaller yields and the lesser role of the cooperative system.  In the 1960's, the Super Tuscans rise to fame and promoted the Italian wine as one of the best in th world.

Nowadays, Italy is the second worldwide wine producer and the first exporter country. The wine industry is still divided between many cooperatives and the big private estates. The DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) is the equivalent of AOC with stricter control and laws for the DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). The IGP country wines are labelled as IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica).

Italy wine regions

The wine regions are inside big geographic areas. In the North-East, there is the important region of Friuli, Venetia and Trentino-Alto-Adige. Piedmont rule over the wine production in the north-west. In Center Italia, Tuscany is the star of wine producer but Umbria is rising in its shadows. In the South, Campania (the region of Naples) and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia are only worth mentioning.

Wine grappes of Italy

Italia has in its possession a wide array of native varieties, only a few are used to make the wines known beyond the country borders.

Nebbiolo is the most famous grape because it is used in the world-famous Barolo and Barbaresco. The wines have violet, rose and spicy perfumes, fruit aromas, crisp acidity and powerful tannins.

Sangiovese is the most common red variety and it produces full-bodied wines with velvety and structured tannins and cherry, vanilla and herbal flavors.

After Sangiovese, Barbera is the most cultivated and make bulky fruit-driven wines with spicy and smoked wood notes.

Montepulciano grows in Center Italia to produces intense cherry, blackcurrant and pepper aromas.

Corvina is used in the Valpolicella which are red wine with elegant tannins and concentrated cherry and herbal flavors.

Dolcetto produces lovely cherry-driven wines. Aglicanico is cultivated in the south to make tannic full-bodied wines with toasty cherry notes and chocolate and tar touches.

Arneis grows in Piedmont and produce a dry white wine with flavors of melon, pears, and almonds. The white variety Trebbiano is used in blend to make a crisp dry wine.

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