Italy has a million grape growers, hundreds of grape varieties, and an amazing number of wine regions and styles.
Argyably, the country provides greater diversity than any other wine-producing nation. Native grape varieties are still Italy’s strength, but some notable success has also been achieved with international grape varieties, such as Chabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Chardonnay.
Italian wines tend to be best appreciated with food, This is a nation where regional food and wines are wnjoyed togetherm a natural evolution that has developed over centuries. Cultivation of the vine was introduced by both the Greeks and Italy ‘Oenotria’, land of the wine. Although Italy’s wine laws have come in for some criticism, they broadly follow the French model, with Denominazione Origine Controllata e Garantita being reserved for a few ‘top’ wines, which are subject to strict rules of control. Denominazione di Origine Controllata introduced in 1963, guarantees that the wine has been produced in the named vineyard area.
Methods of production are also specified. The newst category is Indicazione Geographica Tipica, which mirrors the French Vin de Pays. The removal of restrictions had led to winemakers making the most of blending opportunities and at best, making truly exciting and innovative wines. Vino da Tavola or table wine represents not only the simplest wines, but also super-premium and expresive wine made from non-indigenous grape varieties, such as Sassicaia, a pioneering Cabernet produced in Tuscany, which was promoted to a special sub-zone status in the Bolgheri in 1994.
Italy’s climate tends to be more consistent than northern France’s but there is quite a variation from north to south. The best grape varieties, in terms of the quality of the wines produced, are Nebbiolo which reaches its greatest heights in Barolo and Barbaresco, both of which are Denominazione Origine Controllata e Garantitas and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. This trio make up some of Tuscany’s most impressive wines.
Veneto, home to Valpoliclla and Soave, is found in the north.
Some of Italy’s best white wines are produced in Trentino and Friuli, in what is often referrend to as the varietal northeast. The south has made great stides in improving its wines, and evidence of success can be seen in wines such as Salice Salentino from Apulia.