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Italy

Ranking as the eighth largest economy in the world, Italy is one of the most industrialised Countries and a leading nation in world trade.

Italy is well known for its large agricultural sector and it is one of the two world’s largest wine producers (almost 42 million hectolitres in 2011), as well as one the first three Countries for wine consumption per capita and with the largest number of vineyards (776.000 in 2011).

Italy is also the world’s leading wine exporter and it is often identified for its authentic viticulture in which its history and diversity, its present and past, are all well mixed together and make Italy a Country of wine excellence.

Grape cultivation and wine-making have represented a significant part of the life of the Italian population for thousands of years.

Italy is divided into 20 regions, each of them presents some particularly suitable areas for viticulture that have been historically used and appreciated by different populations.

The history of viticulture has had a primary role in the history of the Country, and it has influenced its traditions and customs, as well as its economic growth since the wine sector represents an important Italian asset recognised worldwide.

Despite the high production and exportation of “wines of quantity” is still significant, over the last thirty years Italy has substantially increased the production of quality wines which achieve their best in their single-varietal expressions (i.e. Nebbiolo and Sangiovese).

The wines produced from single-grape varieties , although they only represent 4% of the domestic wine production, are considered a world heritage that has allowed and allows Italy to affirm itself and establish its wine identity, especially with the return to traditional approaches and old vinification methods.

The Italian viticulture, after the exaltation of its historical wine-making techniques, is about to experience a new phase in which the Industry is uniquely focused on the quality of its wine-growing ecosystem, that same ecosystem that had been so much appreciated and valued by the ancient Romans over 2000 years ago.

Piedmont

Even though in the last twenty years the world’s viticulture has moved from the hills to the lowlands, from local to international grapes, Piedmont has maintained unchanged its regional characteristics and continues to be a leading region in quality wine production. This is also because Piedmont is a land of family viticulture where traditions and knowledge are preserved and passed on from father to son. 1/3 of the approximately 20.000 local wineries own between 1 and 5 hectares of land, and 1/3 of the producers are aged between 60 and 80.

Piedmont is surrounded on three sides by the Alps and the Apennines and it is often referred to as the region “at the foot of the mountains”.

Piedmont is home to a large number of woods and rivers, and its distinctive vineyards are mostly located in extraordinary hills that run throughout the region since the end of the nineteenth century.

Barbera, Moscato, Dolcetto, Grignolino, Freisa, Arneis, Favorita, Erbaluce are both the names of the grapes grown through almost 45.000 hectares of land and the names of the most distinctive wines produced in such lands. Although Barbera takes up 1/3 of the local vineyards and is the most popular grape in Piedmont (the second most common in Italy after Sangiovese), the most important grape of the region is without a doubt Nebbiolo.

Piedmont is in fact home to this wonderful and ancient variety which has historical references since the 13th century. Because of its unique characteristics, the growth and production of Nebbiolo has been confined in an area of temperate and sub-continental climate. Nebbiolo is one of the first grape-varieties to bloom and the last to be harvested in Italy, this long development process makes Nebbiolo one of the most long-lasting wines.

This extraordinary grape also represents two of the most appreciated wines in the world: Barolo and Barbaresco, which names come respectively from the two municipalities where they are produced. Their story recalls both the proximity of the region to France and the importance of the royal European dynasty of Savoy that played a critical role in the unification of the Country.

With its 2.683 million hectolitres of wine produced (2011) and over 60% of it addressed to non-domestic markets, Piedmont represents approximately 6% of the national wine production . 1) Langhe (& Roero) 2) Alto Piemonte 3) Monferrato 4) Tortonese

Langhe and Roero

These two historical areas are located in the southern part of Piedmont, in proximity to the Maritime Alps and the Apennines.

The origin of the name Langhe seems to have Celtic influences and it means “narrow strips of land”, which reminds the distinctive extended hills that run through the several narrow valleys and rivers that are often home of castles and fortresses.

The average height of its peaks is 550m, and the area is divided by the river Tanaro that runs in the Southern side of the Langhe and the river Roero located in the Northern end of the region.

The Apennines protect the area from the maritime wind coming from Liguria whilst the Alps prevent the cold wind coming from North to hit the region, this allows Langhe to benefit of a temperate cold-continental climate with well-defined seasons and a high thermal excursion between day and night, which is essential for good quality grapes and wine aromas.

The soil’s composition of this area derives from the drying up of the so-called “sea Po” (as evidenced by the several marine fossils that are mainly found in Roero), and this includes a substrate of clay, calcareous marl, bluish marl, tuff, sand, gypsum and sulphur.

Being the soil’s structure and composition of the "white lands" of the Langhe mainly clayish and calcareous, compact and solid, it gives wines a bold structure and longevity (i.e. Barolo or Barbaresco).

These lands have originated in the Miocene epoch, over 15 million years ago.

Roero is more recent instead, dating back to 5 million years ago; its soil is soft and sandy, which is suitable for white wines such as Arneis.

Arneis is in fact the only white grape-variety planted on a fair number of hectares, nearly 8% of the total 10.000 hectares.

Barolo, Barbera and Dolcetto cover respectively 35%, 32% and 17% of the total vineyards.

Tuscany

Once known as Ancient Etruria (due to the name of its inhabitants, Etruscans), this region was then named after its pre-Romans inhabitants and finally became “Tuscany”.

Tuscany has one of the oldest and most defined cultural and linguistic identity in Italy.

Its ancient vineyards stretch mainly along the coasts and through the heart of the region, which is mainly hilly.

Hills make up most of the Tuscan territory covering over 65% of the region, with an additional 25% occupied by mountains (Apennines) and almost 10% by plains.

This land is rich of rivers and offers a climate diversity that reflects the diversity of its viticulture: temperature tends to be higher in the coastal areas and rainy in the interior.

Sangiovese is grown in 65% of the vineyards, this grape gives the most extraordinary wines such a Brunello di Montalcino (single-variety vinification) or Chianti (combination of different varieties of local grapes), which recipe was created in the 19th century.

Before the 19th century, Tuscany had already cultivated some French varieties (now called International), these were planted in small areas/properties owned by upper-class families related to the trade and banking sectors, which have made the history of the region.

In relation to this, it is precisely thanks to such families that Tuscany is now home to some of the best wines in the world.

Unlike the Etruscans, these families opted for a different and more specialised approach that was more focused on quality than quantity.

Now-days the 3rd and 4th most planted grape-varieties in the region are, respectively, Merlot and Cabernet-Sauvignon (each of them covers about 6% of the vineyards); these two grape-varietes have gradually supplanted Trebbiano Toscano and Canaiolo Nero.

The change in production and approach to viticulture in the last few decades has sacrificed the unique expression of traditional Tuscan wines to the advantage of a production mainly aimed at exportation. However, some producers still continue to produce inimitable wines using local varieties which are still vinified in classic wooden barrels. Tuscany produces almost 2.5 million hectolitres per year (2011), 80% of which is red. The total cultivated lands cover over 57.000 hectares (2011).

  • Costa e Bassa Toscana
  • Centrale

 

Liguria

Liguria is the third smallest region in Italy but also one of the most fascinating.

The region is made up of forests and woods that cover nearly the 70% of the territory, and it is located between mountains (Alps and Apennines), that go from peaks of 2.200m down to 500m, and the Mediterranean sea.

The Ligures (which gave name to the region) have produced wine for millennia and their viticulture took place along the vertiginous slopes of Liguria, on the rocky and harsh coastline.

The climate is Mediterranean but not uniform and it is strongly influenced by the sea and the mountains, as well as by the shape of the territory.

Precipitations tend to be more abundant than frequent. Viticulture is not industrial but rather manual and made of bold, stubborn and tenacious small companies that have perpetuated their traditions for centuries.

In the last thirty years the region lost most of its planted areas going from more than 7.300 hectares in 1980 to just 1.300 in 2010, from 41.000 wineries down to 4.000.

Liguria produces about 70,000 hectolitres of wine per year (2010), 65% white and 25% red, mostly based on the unique character of the many local grapes: Vermentino, Pigato, Rossese, Ormeasco, Bosco, Albarola etc. Moscadello also plays a very important role in the regional history and pride, and despite its limited cultivation and production, became one of the most famous wines in Europe between the 15th and 16th centuries.

Liguria is now preparing to recover part of its reputation thanks to Rossese of Dolceacqua, a product that perfectly combines the finesse and flavour of the great wines of the sea to the uniqueness and longevity of great red wines.

  • Ponente
  • Levante

Lombardy

Lombardy is one of the most populated regions in Europe, and certainly the most populated in Italy.

Lombardy presents uneven geographical characteristic from north to south, starting in the northern end of the region with the Alpine area, followed by a mountainous territory that ends by the big plains of the Po valley in the south.

In addition to the Po river, which is the largest in Italy, Lombardy is home to a number of important rivers and lakes such as Lake Garda and Lake Como.

The climate follows the geographical diversity and it varies between continental and Mediterranean.

The viticulture also reflects these varieties and it presents a large range of wines: from white to red, from still to sparkling. Its vineyards run from the mountainous Valtellina to the slightly hilly area of Franciacorta, from the Morain Amphitheatre of Garda until the large Po valley.

In relation to the regional ampelography (grapevines’ identification and classification), its diversity is mostly made by non-local varieties from which are produced the most relevant wines: Valtellina Nebbiolo, Barbera and Croatina are originally from Piedmont, whereas the Oltrepò Mantovano Lambrusco is originally from Emilia.

International varieties also play an important role, especially in the production of Franciacorta (sparkling wine) or Valcalepio, and they cover about ¼ of the regional area.

Lombardy has of a total of 21.300 hectares of vineyards and an overall wine production of 1.3 million hectolitres per year (2011).

  • Valtellina
  • Franciacorta & Garda
  • Oltrepò (Pavese e Mantovano: Oltrepò, Metodo Classico, Lambrusco)

 

Aosta Valley

The Aosta Valley (Valle d’ Aosta in Italian) is the smallest region in the Country and it is surrounded by some of the highest mountains in Europe.

The climate is mostly Alpine with cold and long winters, getting milder in the central valleys that are in proximity of the Dora Baltea river, where the sun reaches the land perpendicularly at day-time and helps the cultivation of grapes.

Although the vineyards are partially protected by the mountains that help reduce winds and rainfalls, the viticulture still remains a challenge for the local producers.

The region only has 432 cultivated hectares and therefore it is Italy’s smallest wine region with an overall wine production of almost 20.000 hectolitres.

Almost 70% of the wine-makers own as little as 0.2 hectares of land.

Nebbiolo, also known as Picoutener, is mostly grown in the lower valleys and plays an important role in the production of wines such as Donnas and Arnad-Montjovet.

Other popular wines produced in the lower valleys are Neyret and Freisa-bleu. The local variety Petit-Rouge is grown in the middle valley and it is used to make wines such as Torrette and Enfer d’ Arvier.

Some additional interesting grape-varieties include Fumin (red), Pinot Bianco, Petite Arvine, Chardonnay, and Muscat (all white grapes). The local Blanc de Morgex de la Salle is the only variety that grows in the upper valleys at the mouth of the Dora Baltea river.

Qualitywise, the most relevant wines are made with Petite Arvine (imported from Switzerland) and Muscat di Chambave, known since the Middle Ages.

Veneto

Veneto is one of the richest regions in Italy and certainly the most visited due to its historical, architectural, artistic and natural heritage.

The territory is mainly flat and presents plains in over half of the region, 30% of which is mountainous and only 15% slightly hilly.

Veneto offers a variety of soil structures and geographical diversity: from the coastal areas to the vast plains, from the Euganean Hills until the Iberian Mountains.

The climate is sub-continental but mitigated by the sea and the Alps, this tends to be quite harsh in the area of the Dolomites and much warmer and mild by the Adriatic side.

The wine tradition has been preserved and developed since the ancient Venetians and its prosperity is strongly due to centuries of maritime dominion of Venice which became one of the most powerful states in Europe in the 15th century.

Today there are more than 71.000 hectares (2011) from which Veneto annually produces about 8.5 million hectolitres of wine (65% of which is white), making it the most productive Italian region.

Veneto is also home to two extraordinary white grapes: Prosecco, notorious sparkling wine known worldwide, and Garganega, used especially to make the traditional Soave wine.

Among the red grapes, Merlot occupies a considerable part of the regional vineyards, followed by the local Corvina and Rondinella (used for Amarone, Recioto or Bardolino) and Durello.

Some great varieties can also be found among non-local grapes, these include Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Grigio, Riesling, Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc, and Sauvignon & Pinot Noir.

While the most famous Prosecco and Amarone are still obstructed by lack of identity and over-production, Soave has probably been the most convincing wine in recent years, with its combined expression of high quality appearance and taste uniqueness.

  • Valpolicella & Veronese (Amarone, Recioto, Soave, Garda e Custoza)
  • Trevigiano (Prosecco, Durello)

Trentino – Alto Adige

Trentino is wedged between the Alps and it is the most northern region in Italy.

The region is mostly mountainous with a large number of forests and lakes, 20% of the territory is above 2.000m and nearly 77% above 1.000m.

The climate is to be considered Alpine and sub-continental.

Viticulture, especially in the Adige valley, was extended for millennia at higher altitudes than it is today.

The area was known since Roman times and in the Middle Ages were the monasteries of Bavaria and Swabia to cultivate the local red variety Schiava until the Napoleonic era. In the late 19th century the famous agricultural school of San Michele d’ Adige was founded, this represented the first experimental enologic station in the Country.

Both the school and a solid coexistence of large and small producers allowed the region to set a very diverse ampelography which includes the ancient local grapes as well as some German and French varieties.

In Alto Adige (or South Tyrol) producers generally grow single-variety grapes, while in Trentino more varieties are grown together.

Most of the 14.000 hectares of vineyards are planted with white grapes (about 65% of the total regional production, nearly 1.16 million hectolitres).

The Schiava variety not only represents the most cultivated grape, but also gives some of the most interesting, unique and representative regional wines. In the last two decades, despite the significance presence of Schiava, a substantial percentage of production has been replaced by the famous Chardonnay, Pinot and Cabernet, but also by Gewürtraminer, Müller-Thurgau and Kerner. Among the local varieties is worth to mention the famous Teroldego, Marzemino or Nosiola.

Trentino Alto Adige is the only Italian region where there has been an increase (10%) in the number of vineyards in the last thirty years, this is also due to the recent rise of the Trento Brut, a classical sparkling wine.

Friuli – Venezia Giulia

The region offers a mountainous and hilly territory, as well as flat and coastal areas.

Friuli Venezia Giulia is stretched through a variety of landscapes and climates: from the internal dry lands until the humid lagoons, from harmonious hills until the high peaks of its northern mountains.

As a result the climate goes from sub-Mediterranean in the coastal areas and temperate in the internal lands, to harsh and Alpine up in the mountains.

The influence of the winds is remarkable, particularly the so called “bora” (a strong and cold wind coming from north-east). The rains are abundant and distributed almost evenly throughout the year.

The region produces approximately 1.27 million hectolitres per year (2011) from the almost 20.000 hectares of vineyards, with a higher percentage of white grapes grown (nearly 60%).

The vineyards are mostly located in the plains and in the hills, in what the locals call “grave” (a stony and permeable soil created by floods’ sediments).

Despite the presence of a significant number of local grape-varieties such as Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, Verduzzo, Picolit, Refosco, Schioppettino, Pignolo, Istrian Malvasia and Vitovska, the most cultivated varieties are the well-known Pinot Grigio and Merlot, followed by Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Friulia Venezia Giulia, with an average of 2 hectares per wine-making company, is a region of remarkable hard-working men strongly bonded to their land, traditions and identity, therefore not surprisingly the most significant wines come directly from local varieties which are processes using methods and techniques that have been experimented during the last four decades.

Today, on the top of Friuli’s peaks, there are wines such as Tocai, Ribolle, Malvasia, Schioppettino, Refosco and Pignolo, which represent the high-end production of this bold region.

Emilia – Romagna

The region comes from the union of the historical areas of Emilia and Romagna.

Emilia is also the name of the road built by the Roman Marco Emilio Lepido, which runs throughout the region dividing it in two areas of almost equal extension: the flat north and the hilly/mountainous south.

The flat area of the region is remarkably extended due to the Po valley (the largest in Italy) and one of the most fertile in Italy.

The climate results to be sub-continental in the majority of the region except for the coastal area which is rather mild and Mediterranean.

The temperature are generally very high during summer with some very hot and sultry days, on the other hand winters tend to be quite long and cold.

Emilia Romagna is one of the oldest areas in the Country and as a result its viticulture traditions are strong and bonded to its land.

The region is home of the world-known Lambrusco, which is cultivated from the hills down to the banks of the river Po, particularly in the province of Reggio Emilia and Modena.

Other relevant varieties cultivated in the almost 55.000 hectares include: Barbera and Bonarda (local name for Croatina), Albana, Ancellotta, Malvasia di Candia, Pignoletto, Ortrugo, Fontana, and the well-known Sangiovese and Trebbiano which cover almost 50% of the regional vineyards.

A number of international varieties are also grown particularly in the area of Bologna and its surrounding hills.

The total production is well balanced between white and red (and rose), and it reached 6.5 million hectolitres in 2011.

Despite the numerous varieties the most relevant wines are still made with Lambrusco or a blend of Barbera and Croatina.

  • Emilia (lambrusco)
  • Romagna (sangiovese)

 

Umbria

Umbria is known as “the green heart of Italy”, it is one of the smallest regions in the Country and the only Apennines region not to have any coastal area.

Its territory is mostly made up of hills and mountains, and the climate goes from Mediterranean to temperate sub-continental with very hot summers in the hilly areas, and moderate temperatures in the mountains.

Rainfalls are abundant particularly in Autumn and Spring and the land is therefore very fertile.

Viticulture has been practised in this region since the Etruscan epoch and it was often highlighted by writers for its quality, mostly with references to the town of Orvieto.

Despite its significant and ancient wine-making traditions, the production was substantially reduced in the last thirty years (almost 12.000 hectares of vineyards in 2010) and some local varieties have been replaced and substituted by international grapes.

The regional production went through a long process of modernisation, not always positive though, and the total production reached almost 860.000 hectolitres in 2011, with slightly more red wines than white’s.

Although Trebbiano and Sangiovese, which were imported from the near Tuscany, cover a significant number of hectares, the most relevant wines are made with Sagrantino or Grechetto. Interesting areas are Montefalco and Bevagna, where Sagrantino was born and then developed from a sweet raisin wine to a dry red.

Other important viticulture centres are Torgiano, Colli Martani, Colli Perugini and the area near the Lake Trasimeno, all in the province of Perugia. Today some small producers give us hope that the wine production will reach its highest quality in a short time. A real authentic and distinctive region.

Marche

Marche is hilly and mountainous in the majority of its territory, therefore naturally predisposed to Mediterranean vegetation and vineyards indeed.

The climate is Mediterranean in the coastal areas, sub-Mediterranean in the interior and almost oceanic in the mountainous part of the region.

Its over 17.000 hectares of vineyards (2011) stretch among calcareous, clayish and sandy lands from which almost 740.000 hectolitres of wine are annually produced.

The production results to be quite balanced between red and white although white wine was traditionally predominant in the region.

In relation to this the cultivation is mainly focused on Sangiovese and Montepulciano for the red, on Trebbiano Toscano and Verdicchio for the white.

In addition to that there are a series of interesting local varieties such as Vernaccia Nera, Biacame, Lacrima, Passerina and Pecorino. These wines, in particular the local white such as Verdicchio, tend to improve year after year.

The regional red wines on the other hand seem to be a bit lost in a process of misinterpretation and unclear identity, and wines such as Rosso del Conero still show to be unable to fully highlight the beauty and strength of their hills overlooking the sea.

Other significant areas are the castles of Jesi, the internal province of Ancona, the hills near Macerata (home to Verdicchio), and the province of Ascoli Piceno which are traditionally lands of red wine but that have recently rediscovered some excellent local white grapes such as Pecorino and Passerina.

Lazio

Lazio is an ancient area inhabited by the Latins first and then by the Romans.

The region stretches from the Apennines until the Tyrrhenian sea and its territory is made up of hills (54%), mountains (26%) and plains by the coastal area.

The climate is Mediterranean along the coast, with huge differences in rainfall frequency and quantity from north to south, and continental in the internal areas.

Although both the climate and the geographical aspects would facilitate viticulture, Lazio has lost most of its cultivated vineyards in the last thirty years going from over 71.000 hectares to only 16.000 in 2010.

The local varieties of Malvasia del Lazio and Malvasia Bianca di Candia cover a significant portion of land and represent 2/3 of the total regional cultivation along with Trebbiano Toscano and Trebbiano Giallo.

Lazio produced just over 1.2 million hectolitres in 2011, mostly white wine.

The most important area for wine-growing is the province of Rome, the Roman castles, the surrounding area of Latina (home to Nero Buono di Cori) and the near Ciociaria (home to Cesanese).

The ancient area of “Tuscia”, in the province of Viterbo, is also known for its white grapes; other interesting vineyards can be found in Sabina, located at the border with Umbria.

Despite its indisputable historical value and knowledgeable wine-makers (the most popular ancient wine, the “Caecubum”, was produced near the town of Fondi), the modern Lazio is not yet to become a valid exponent of its great traditions and it is still far from reaching a high-end wine production.

Abruzzo

Abruzzo is rich of hills and mountains, its territory runs from the Adriatic sea until the grand central Apennines.

The region is home to beautiful and unique landscapes, parks and natural reserves, Abruzzo owns in fact the largest quantity of natural parks in Europe.

The climate is mild in proximity of the coast and continental in the internal areas, with a good balance between rainfall and exposure to sun, and a good combination between the benefits of maritime lands and mountainous ones.

Despite its ancient history, the regional viticulture only developed in the last few decades, and covered 32.000 hectares in 2011, mostly in the province of Chieti.

Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo is certainly the most characteristic and representative wine of the region, this is mostly produced on the hills of Teramo and Chieti, and in the surrounding areas of L’ Aquila.

Traditional white varieties have been recently rediscovered, these include Trebbiano, Passerina, Pecorino and Cococciola Abruzzo also grows non-local varieties such as Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Cabernet-Savignon and Merlot.

The total production in 2010 was 3 million hectolitres (60% red), of which ¾ were produced by only 40 companies that mainly focus on quantities in order to increase exportation. Unlike this, an increasing number of small producers still guarantee authentic quality wines.

Molise

Molise was only established in 1963 and it is, therefore, the youngest region in Italy. It is also the least extended and populated region in the Country, second only to Valle d’ Aosta.

As a result, the regional vineyards cover just over 4.100 hectares (2010) and the overall wine production is almost 255.000 hectolitres per year (2011).

Its territory is divided between mountains and hills, with the vineyards historically located on hills in proximity to the sea. The climate is semi-continental with cold/snowy winters, and hot/humid summers in the internal areas.

At this regards the capital Campobasso is one of the coldest cities in the Country during winter.

Interesting areas for viticulture are the province of Campobasso, home to the majoriity of the cultivated regional vineyards, and a small portion of the province of Isernia located by the Apennines and the rivers Trigno and Volturno, in which viticulture is practised up to 800m above the sea level. White grapes cover 70% of the regional vineyards with Montepulciano alone representing over half of the total cultivation, followed by Trebbiano Toscano (30%), Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Bombino Bianco, Greco, Malvasia, Moscato and Falanghina.

Among red varities an important role is played by Sangiovese, Cabernet-Sauvignon, Bovale Grande and Aglianico.

Despite in recent years the region rediscovered the Tintilia variety (most likely of Spanish origin), which was widely cultivated and appreciated until the early 20th century, Molise still offers a very heterogeneous viticulture, which indeed does not help to set a strong and unique regional identity. Some positive notes in the Industry come from Aglianico that hopefully will encourage and lead local producers to establish a precise identity and create more distinctive wines.

Campania

Campania is Italy’s second most populous region and the first for density of inhabitants.

The climate is Mediterranean on the coastal areas and continental in the interior, especially on the peaks of Irpinia.

This is a region with an ancient history and its geographical structure facilitated the development of viticulture and great wines, Campania had been in fact the first wine-producing area in the Italian peninsula to be known worldwide.

Ancient wines such as Falerno, Greco, Faustiniano and Caleno were produced in these lands. Pompei, during the 2nd century b.C., was internationally recognised as the wine capital of the world; almost 2.000 years later, in the 20th century, Campania produced more wine than any other region in Italy.

In 2010 the region had almost 21.000 hectares of vineyards from which over 1.800 million hectolitres of wine produced.

The most cultivated varieties are: Aglianico and Sangiovese, followed by Trebbiano Toscano, Malvasia di Candia and Greco di Tufo.

At this regards Greco di Tufo is on the rise along with other local ancient varieties that represent the regional heritage, there are: Piedirosso, Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, Sciasinoso, Coda di Volpe Bianca, Forastera, Biancolella and Grego Musc’. Campania is now going through a prosperous and favourable enological period, its best wines are made from local varities such as Taurasi, Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo.

A series of small producers are recently bringing the region back to the quality peaks of the Italian viticulture.

  • Irpinia (Taurasi, Greco di Tufo, Fiano di Avellino)
  • Sannio (Aglianico del Taburno)
  • 3) Costa (Falerno, Asprinio d’Aversa, Cliento)

Basilicata

Once part of the ancient Lucania, Basilicata shows evidences of viticulture since a millennium before Christ.

A few centuries later were the ancient Greeks to highlight the quality of the lands of Basilicata, which was also mentioned in the tables of Heraclea.

At a later time the Latins came to celebrate the grapes of Basilicata, particularly the Aglianico del Vulture which plays the most signifcant role in the composition of Falerno, the most celebrated wine by the poets of ancient times.

The region’s territory is mainly mountainous and hilly, and it streches from the Ionian until the Tyrrhenian sea. Its climate is therefore Mediterranean with continental influences in the internal areas.

Agricolture represents one of the leading sectors of the regional economy, and viticulture has and important role although it barely covers 4.200 hectares (2010) and it has got an annual production of almost 125.000 hectolitres (2010).

In addition to the Aglianico (grown on the volcanic hills of Vulture), a series of interesting varieties are also grown, these include: Sangiovese, Primitivo, Merlot and Cabernet in the province of Matera, Greco Bianco and the local Malvasia Bianca and Malvasia Nera di Basilicata.

Merlot and Cabernet can also be found in Val d'Agri, near Potenza, where the vineyards reach up to 800m and are exposed to extreme temperature changes.

In terms of quality, the most convincing and representative wine is offered by the well-known Aglianico del Vulture, which is produced by nearly sixty companies.However, among them, only a few seem to be proceeding in the right direction.

Puglia

Apulia (Puglia in Italian) is Italy’s most eastern region and the least mountainous, it has over 800 km of coasts and the second largest plains in Italy, second only to the Po valley.

The climate is mostly Mediterranean and mild throughout the year, rainfalls are generally scarce.

The wine tradition started since the ancient Greek colonisation, at this regards Pliny described Manduria as “viticulosae” (rich in vineyards).

Apulia is a land where growing grapes has never been a problem, as a result the region was given the label of “Europe’s winery”.

The cultivated lands covered a total of almost 97.000 hectares in 2010, second only to Sicily, with an overall production of over 7.100 million hectolitres of wine (second only to Veneto) which generated a total turnover of € 644 million (20% of the Industry domestic income).

Negroamaro and Primitivo are the two leading local varieties, followed by Sangiovese (imported in the 20th century).

On the other hand white grapes such as Trebbiano Toscano and Trebbiano d’ Abruzzo represent a fair production share, followed by the local Verdeca, Bianco d’ Alesano, Bombino Bianco and Pampanuto.

Other interesting traditional varieties include Aleatico, Moscato di Trani, Uva di Troia, Bombino Nero and Palumbo.

Apulia is now undertaking a process of enological development and improvement in which the best wines begin to combine their unique character with high quality standards.

Primitivo di Manduria, Primitivo di Gioia del Colle and Salice Salentino remain the most relevant products in the regional production.

  • Alta Puglia (Castel del Monte Nero di Troia. Moscato di Trani)
  • Bassa Puglia (Primitivo di Manduria, Negroamaro Terra d’Otranto, Primitivo di Manduria, Salice Salentino)

Calabria

This region was known as “Enotria” in ancient times, name that referred to the favourable territory for grape-cultivation.

The local wines became well-known since the ancient Greeks colonised the coasts of Calabria (Magna Graecia) bringing new grape-varieties.

For instance the traditional “Krimisa”, ancestor of the modern Ciro’, was the official wine of the Olympic Games, and for centuries the Calabrian wines were amongst the most known and appreciated wines in the world. Calabria can also benefit of a favourable territory mainly made up of hills and some high mountains that reach up to 2.000m.

The climate is Mediterranean and rainfalls generally happen during winter. Despite its glorious past, the grape-cultivated areas covered not more than 9.000 hectares in 2010 (25% compared to 30 years ago).

Calabria had a production of almost 300.000 hectolitres of wine in 2010, most of which are red and rose.

Viticulture is mainly based on red local varieties such as Gaglioppo, Greco Nero and Magliocco Canino.

On the other hand Greco Bianco, grown for millennia, is certainly the most popular among the white varieties, followed by Malvasia Bianca and Montoncino Bianco.

The most important areas for viticulture are the province of Crotone (known for its Ciro’), the province of Cosenza (home to wide valleys and high peaks such as Pollino and Sila), the far province of Catanzaro, the areas surrounding Lamezia Terme and the province of Reggio Calabria (the toe of Italy), well-known for its Greco di Bianco which is made by letting the grapes slightly drying up under the sun.

In recent years the region seems to have been freed from the weight of such an important historical tradition, and it is now focusing on the production of high quality wines especially in the area of Ciro’.

An additional number of unknown regional grape-varieties should also be taken into account for future developments of the local wine production.

Sicily

Sicily is both the largest island in the Mediterranean and the largest region in Italy.

Also its grape cultivation and wine production are second to none, the Sicilian vineyards in fact covered over 110.000 hectares in 2010 (almost 15% of the national grape-cultivated area) and produced 5.676 million hectolitres of wine in the same year, mostly red (50%) and rose (35%). Sicily’s overall turnover for wine production represents nearly 10% of the total national income of the Industry.

The regional viticulture has ancient origins and it was already practised by the Phoenicians, also due to a quite favourable Mediterranean climate that becomes continental in the internal lands and almost Alpine in mountainous areas.

The history of the Sicilian viticulture has often mixed up with the history of the island itself, the best known examples are the Marsala and Etna areas, both among the most significant productive areas of the Country in the late 19th century.

Only over the last three/four decades Sicily has focused on a higher quality wine production, despite the production of “table wine” still remains high (30%).

Now-days Sicily mostly cultivates local grape-varieties such as Cataratto (almost 30% of the total growing), Nero d’ Avola, Inzolia, Grecanico, Grillo, Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio, Zibibbo and Frappato.

The region has experienced a strong process of internationalisation over the last 15 years, this has unfortunately led to a significant reduction of the traditional growing-system which now barely reaches the 10% of the overall cultivation.

In terms of quality, Sicily currently benefits of a significant return to its ancient viticultural identity in several areas of the region.

As a result Sicilian producers are more than ever getting closer to the highest peaks of wine excellence, especially with red wines such as Etna Rosso, Cerasuolo, Nero d’ Avola and Marsala.

  • Etna & Messinese (Etna, Faro, Malvasia delle Lipari)
  • Sud-Orientale ( Eloro, Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Moscato di Noto)
  • Sicilia Occidentale (Marsala, Pantelleria, Erice)

Sardinia

Sardinia is an island in the western Mediterranean and one of the oldest grape-growing areas in the world, viticulture has in fact shaped the Sardinian hilly and mountainous landscapes for millennia.

The climate is typically Mediterranean with mild winters and hot and dry summers.

The regional vineyards are mostly grown on rocky, sandy and calcareous soils, between the slopes of the hills and the sea, and surrounded by ancient woods, brambles and prickly pears.

The total grapes cultivation covered almost 28.000 hectares in 2010 (60% less compared to three decades ago) and had an overall production of 475.000 hectolitres of wine, evenly balanced between white, red and rose’, and almost entirely consumed within the island.

The majority of the grape-varieties grown are local, with some of the most relevant grapes imported from Spain centuries ago due to the short distance between Sardinia and the hispanic Country; among these “Cannonau” is certainly the most popular and appreciated wine, followed by Monica, Carignano and Bovale Sardo (red), and Vermentino, Nuragus and Vernaccia (white).

The most important areas for viticulture are the province of Cagliari (home to Cannonau, Carignano del Sulcis and the yet not well-known Nuragus), the areas near Oristano (where fair quantities of Vernaccia and the interesting Semidano are produced), and the province of Sassari in the north of the island (home to Vermentino di Gallura, Moscaro di Sorso-Sennari and the fascinating Malvasia di Bosa).

In terms of quality, the nature of the island has prevented large viticultural and winemaking standardisations. Sardinia is certainly not lacking in personality, however the wine Industry certainly needs to support and encourage local producers to implement their identity aim at achieving higher quality standards.

The best products include: Vernaccia di Oristano, the sweet Malvasia di Bosa, the dry Carignano, Vermentino and Cannonau.