Learn About Italian Regions

Abruzzo

An Italian wine region with many DOC’s (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) which runs down from the Appenines to the Adriatic.  Significant in terms of production, and best known for its red Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (one of Italy’s most exported DOC’s) and its white Trebbiano d’Abruzzo.  Wines produced here are generally well made rather than spectacular. View our range.

Campania

An ancient wine area in southern Italy, near Naples.  Traditional grape varieties here give the region its character and strong regionality.  The most important red is Aglianico, used to make the robust dark wines of Taurasi and Avellino, with the two most important whites being Fiano (Fiano di Avellino) and Greco (Greco di Tufo).  Key factors in this fascinating  region are the volcanic soil and the hot sunshine, which is alleviated to some extent by breezes from the Tyrrhenian sea. View our range.

Emilia- Romagna

Large wine area in North Central Italy sprawling across the country from west to east, with the city of Bologna more or less in the middle.  As its name suggest, it falls into two parts, Emilia to the west and Romagna, which runs down to the Adriatic, to the east.   Generally this is a region more about quantity than quality.  Sparkling Lambrusco is Emilia’s most celebrated wine ( the sweet variety is the one most exported, but there is a dry version too), whilst in Romagna light fresh whites are made from Trebbiano and zesty reds from Sangiovese.  Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet are making a little headway, so for the future, who knows? View our range.

Puglia

Puglia runs along the Adriatic coast at the extreme south eastern end of Italy.  The most southerly section, the Salento region, forms the heel of Italy’s boot and is the source of the region’s best wines.  The climate is extremely hot and this is almost entirely red wine country, with the traditional local varieties being Negroamaro and Primativo.  These make dark, deep, full bodied rustic wines.  Further north, Sangiovese and Montepulciano, which are widely planted elsewhere, make lighter, less distinguished wines.

Sicily

Once best known for its fortified wine, Marsala, although this is now in steep decline. The majority of wines made in this, the largest of all the Mediterranean islands, are white, produced from a local variety, Catarratto, much of which is used for blending elsewhere.  Some of the best whites, however, are to be found in the west of the island from Inzolia.  The most successful red wines are made from Nero d’Avola, these are deep, robust and powerful and typically Sicilian.  There have been some attempts to grow Chardonnay and other international varieties but so far these have not had great success.  Many growers, rather than take advantage of the DOC, opt instead for the simpler IGT which gives them more flexibility. View our range.

Umbria

Largely a white wine area, lying amongst the rolling hills in the centre of Italy, between Rome and Florence.  Orvieto and Orvieto Classico, which are based on Trebbiano, are the best known white wines.  There are two fine DOCG reds, Montefalco which is produced from Sagrantino, and Torgiano Rosso Riserva which is made from Sangiovese and Canaiolo.

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Indigenous grape varieties

Catarratto: a white grape widely cultivated in Sicily, where it makes decent, if unexciting table wines. It is also used to make Marsala.
Falanghina: an Italian white grape grown in the south of the country, above Naples. Makes wines which are fresh and zesty, with firm fruit flavours.
Grechetto: grown in central Italy; especially important in Umbria where, blended with Trebbiano, Malvasia, and Verdello, it is used to make Orvieto.
Grillo: a white Italian variety grown in Sicily where it survives due to its ability to withstand heat. Blended with Inzolio, it is used to make Marsala but its fortunes have declined with that of Marsala. Produces robust, somewhat rustic, white wines.
Montepulciano: widely grown in the central part of Italy. The wines made from Montepulciano in Abbruzzo are the best expression of this variety. Confusingly, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, which is named after the town rather than the grape, is not made from Montepulciano.
Nero d’Avola: one of the major grape varieties used to make red wines in Sicily. Produces wines with a lively red colour, soft tannins and good red fruit flavours.
Verdicchio: a white grape grown in the Marche region in Central Italy. Produces Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi from vineyards close to the Adriatic, and the more refined Verdicchio di Matelica, which is made further inland where yields are lower.
Primitivo: planted extensively in California where it makes rich top class red wines through to the semi sweet blush style. Grown to a limited extent in Australia. In general, wines produced from Zinfandel are easy, uncomplicated and for immediate drinking. In Puglia, the ‘heel’ of Italy, it is known as Primitivo.

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