Italy is the country that "breathes in the neck" of France in the ranking of the largest wine producer in the world. It is also the country of Chianti, Amarone, Prosecco, regions that have achieved world fame with their own identity and variety. And - of course - the country of Super Tuscan wines, whose history is enviable with the success and fame they achieve for their short life - the first Super Tuscan wines, Sassicaia, Tignanello, Masseto, Ornelaia, Solaia, were released only in the 70s of last century. What is common among these wines is not the use of so-called international grape varieties (these are the French Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, etc.), but the opposition to the existing rules, which deprive them of their right to use the name of the appellation in which they are located. Masseto for example is made of 100% Merlot, but Tignanello is pure Sangiovese, Sassicaia and Ornelaia rely on the typical Bordeaux blend, and Solaia blends Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Italy is also famous for the number of wine grape varieties - over 2,000 species, many of which are endemic and are about to extinct. Fortunately, there are winemakers who are increasingly turning their attention to their specific characteristics, and more and more often we hear names such as Freisa, Centesimino and others..
What are the varieties and regions in Italy?
Both France and Italy are divided into wine regions, each with its own characteristics and grape varieties, which determine the style of the wines produced there. For example, the wines from its northern part - Alto Adige - are mostly white, fresh and less alcoholic. The typical varieties are French and German - Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris (or as it is world famous - Pinot Grigio), Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, but also local - Trebbiano, Ribolla Gialla, Lagraine and others. Undoubtedly the most famous region of Italy is Tuscany, home of Chianti, Montepulciano and Montalcino, Bolgheri and super Tuscan wines. No less recognisable is Piedmont and its Barolo and Barbaresco wines, made from the Italian variety Nebbiolo, famous for their amazing delicacy and ageing potential. Piedmont is once again home to the recently popular Moscato d’Asti - probably because of its fragrant profile and elegant natural sweetness. Another variety from this region cannot be overlooked - Barbera - the most widespread in the area, characterised by its light character, fruity-cherry aroma and contrary to Nebbiolo - more approachable and easy to understand and consume earlier. Veneto is another world-famous area, only here the sparkling Prosecco is made - the light version of Champagne. And only here the famous Amarone is made - from the semi-dried grapes of the local variety Corvina. The Apennine boot ends with Sicily and its Nero d’Avola, Catarato, Grillo, gaining more and more popularity, albeit less against the sweet and tempting Marsala, the world-famous Muscat fortified wine.
How to choose a good Italian wine?
Italian wine labels are slightly more understandable to the general public than the French ones. Of course, marketing strategy also contributes to this - today almost every wine lover has heard of Tuscany and knows that wine from there will not be a mistake. The DOC and DOCG designations are a guarantee of quality, but the ordinary IGT, which stands for most super Tuscan wines, should not be underestimated. However, along with well-known brands and producers, we at Seewines strongly recommend that you trust our selection of small winemakers who are strongly focused on their own identity - either through the oenological practices they follow or the varieties they use - usually endemic, little known, but presenting in a wonderful way the specifics of the Italian terroir. Italy is simply wonderful in its multifaceted diversity, and we will be happy to show and guide you.