Italy is one of the world's most fascinating viticultural countries. Its twenty regions are home to 350 common and authorized grape varieties, however, there are another 500 or so documented indigenous varieties that exist in vineyards sprawled across the country. Italy is the world's largest wine-producing region and makes roughly around1/3 of the world's production. A lot of that wine can be attributed to Marsala production, however, Italy is without a doubt a major player in the world of fine wine. Because of the enormity of the industry in... Read More
Italy is one of the world's most fascinating viticultural countries. Its twenty regions are home to 350 common and authorized grape varieties, however, there are another 500 or so documented indigenous varieties that exist in vineyards sprawled across the country. Italy is the world's largest wine-producing region and makes roughly around1/3 of the world's production. A lot of that wine can be attributed to Marsala production, however, Italy is without a doubt a major player in the world of fine wine. Because of the enormity of the industry in Italy, it's difficult to get a small summary of the nature of wines here, but looking at the most important and prestigious regions will give a glimpse of the incredible wines available at pretty amazing price points. The regions to focus on are mostly in the Northern parts of the country and along the northern Mediterranean coast. Piedmont, Tuscany, and the Tre-Venezia are the regions to focus on for world-class reds and whites, while the southern parts of the country including Sicily produce great value wines that can impress on the everyday table.
Tuscany - The wines of Tuscany must be mentioned first because of their international presence and their legacy of producing the famous Sangiovese based red wines Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. The amazing "Super Tuscan" IGT wines are also made here and have become some of the worlds most sought after collector wines. A few producers and wines to check out from this region are:
Carpineto Chianti Riserva - founded in 1967 by Antonio Zaccheo and Giovanni Sacchet, Carpineto wines is a standard of quality amongst its peers and has garnered several awards of presage for its beautiful Sangiovese based Chianti's. The Dogajolo red and white wine from this grower are recognised as being superb value for money wines.
Frescobaldi Brunello di Montalcino Riserva - The Frescobaldi family name goes back many centuries into the history and culture of Italy in general and Tuscany in particular. They are amongst the larger producers in the region farming over 1000 hectares of vines, however, their incredible attention to detail allows them to produce some of the regions best Brunello, as well as other great DOC, DOCG, and IGT wines in Tuscany. Marchesi de Frescobaldi wines are highly regarded around the world and even have their own store in Harrods!
Vicchiomaggio Ripa Delle Mandorle - Castello Vicchiomaggio's history can be traced back to the 5th century. The current patrons of the estate, the Matta family, acquired the property in 1964 and have restored it back to its former glory. This luxurious IGT blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon is an affordable and beautiful way to enjoy a "Super Tuscan" without paying hundreds of dollars in the process. Castello Vicchiomaggio has won numerous awards and trophies in competitions around the world and John Matta has been named Italian Wine Maker of the year numerous times.
Piedmont - The wines of Piedmont need little introduction as they are some of the very best in the world. The majestic and wonderful Nebbiolo grape is native to the fog and truffle covered hills around Alba. Barolo and Barbaresco are neighbouring DOCG's that make stunning and grippy reds from 100% Nebbiolo. these wines are some of the most complex and long-lived of any vinifera wines on the earth. There are of course other fabulous selections made in Piedmont such as Barbera and Dolcetto, which are a touch more approachable in their youth, but still offer incredible textures, aromas, and flavours for an amazing value perspective. A few producers and wines to check out from this region are:
Michele Chiarlo Barolo Cerequio - The Chiarlo family own 60 hectares in three different growing regions in Piedmont. They also have long term relationships with several small growers thought the region. This single-vineyard Barolo from the Cerequio vineyard is one of the most lauded vineyards in the whole of Barolo and is located on a hillside between the villages of La Morra and Barolo. The wine is deep, savoury, rich, and can last decades and improve with ageing in the cellar. Michele Chiarlo is also the producer of the region's most sought after Dolcetto called La Court.
Costa di Bussia Barolo Riserva - The wonderful estate can be found in the Bussia region of Piemonte, near the village of Monforte d'Alba. The estate is home to the much-lauded vineyards known as Campo del Buoi and Campo del Gatto, which are 15 hectares of meticulously farmed Nebbiolo. The wine is a traditional style Barolo that shows beautiful dried flower aromas, along with plum and mushroom notes. Costa di Bussia is known as a producer of superb traditional tasting wines that are true to the region and terroir.
Tre-Venezie - Trentino Alto-Adige, Friuli Venezia Giulia, and the Veneto are the three regions that make up the Tre-venezie or "three Venices". Each region offers something unique and special. White wines thrive in both the Trentino Alto-Adige and Friuli sections, while red wines of distinction make their home in Verona in the Veneto. Perhaps the most popular of these wines would be the aristocratic Amarone della Valpolicella wines. These bold reds are unique in their style because of their winemaking process which allows the grapes to dry on straw mats before being crushed, concentrating the flavours and alcohol. The aforementioned whites that grace these regions are most notably Pinot Grigio in Alto-Adige and Sauvignon in Friuli. These are whites with high-toned acidity and very aromatic bouquets on the nose, as well as chalk and mineral flavours. few producers and wines to check out from this region are:
Roccolo Grassi Amarone della Valpolicella - A fabulous boutique producer in the region, Roccolo Grassi makes wines of supreme concentration and focus because of their philosophy of low-yields in the vineyards. Winemaker Marco Sartori is a young and very talented winemaker who seems to be impressing in the region vintage after vintage.
Tramin Pinot Grigio - Cantina Tramin was founded in 1898 and has 280 member winegrowers who follow the most strict practices on the cultivation of the vines. Located in the high elevation slopes of Alto-Adige, this winery has been awarded the coveted Tre-Bicchieri award by the Gambero Rosso 20 times. Their Pinot Grigio is a testament to the region and shows incredible depth and complexity.
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