From the Nebbiolo of Piedmont to the Sangiovese of Tuscany, Italian wines are renowned for their unique flavours, aromas, and characteristics. Even though it is home to over 500 varieties, with just a handful we’ll take a journey through Italy’s wine regions.
Sangiovese: The Heart of Tuscany
Sangiovese is perhaps the most famous and widely planted native grape variety in Italy. It is the primary grape used in the production of Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, and many other iconic Tuscan wines. Sangiovese is known for its high acidity, bright red fruit flavours, and herbaceous notes, and it is often blended with other grape varieties to create complex and nuanced wines.
Nebbiolo: The King of Piedmont
Nebbiolo is the primary grape variety used in the production of Barolo and Barbaresco, two of Italy’s most iconic and revered wines. It is a demanding grape that requires specific growing conditions and yields wines that are full-bodied and tannic, with notes of dark fruit, rose petals, and tar. Nebbiolo wine is often aged for years before it is released, and it is considered one of Italy’s most age-worthy vintages.
Aglianico: The Pride of Campania
Aglianico is a powerful and bold grape variety that is grown primarily in the Campania and Basilicata regions of southern Italy. It produces wines that are full-bodied and tannic, with flavours of black fruit, tobacco, and earth. Aglianico is often compared to Nebbiolo in terms of its power and complexity, and it is a great for those of us who look for something bold and intense.
Barbera: The Workhorse of Piedmont
Barbera is one of the most widely planted grape varieties in Italy, and it is grown primarily in the Piedmont region. It is known for its high acidity and bright red fruit flavours, and it is often used as a blending grape to balance out other grape varieties. Barbera is also used to make lighter, more approachable wines that are perfect for everyday drinking.
Vermentino: The Mediterranean White Grape
Vermentino is a white grape variety that is grown primarily in the coastal regions of Italy, particularly in Sardinia and Liguria. It produces wines that are crisp and refreshing, with flavours of citrus, stone fruit, and a distinct minerality. Vermentino is often compared to Sauvignon Blanc in terms of its flavour profile, and it is a great option for those looking for a light and refreshing white wine.
These are just a few examples of Italy’s native grape varieties, and there are hundreds more waiting to be discovered and tasted. Each grape variety has its own unique characteristics and flavour profile, and it’s okay to take your time exploring them very thoroughly. After all, I’ve spent a lifetime at it and I’d say there’s still a lot more left before I can truly say I’ve explored it all.