A LITTLE HISTORY
Originally, it was probably the Etruscans who planted the first vines in the Italian bunch. The Greeks modified the grape varieties, probably improving them, nicknaming this land "Oenotria": land of wine. When the Roman Empire imposed itself as a hegemony around the Mediterranean, wine was part of the daily life of Roman citizens and some were known to excel over others. One of the traces left by this empire throughout Europe is the many vineyards they established, as well as their know-how in the field of grape varieties.
The hot and dry Mediterranean climate allows the cultivation of vines to flourish all over Italy. Only in Sicily, where there is a lack of rain, can the vines suffer from water stress.
More than a thousand grape varieties exist in Italy. Most of them being local, some create modest wines, others great vintages. In northern Italy, the fashion of growing international varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot and Riesling has become established.
The first codification of 1963, creating the D.O.C. (Denominazione di Crigine Controllata) and the D.O.C.G. (Denominazione di Crigine Controllata). (Denominazione di Crigine Controllata e garantita), rather than regulating the conditions and areas of production and the requirements for grape varieties and vinification, only encouraged mass production. As the grands crus were sometimes assimilated to table wines, the situation was to change and in 1992, thanks to the Goria law, a new I.G.T. appellation was created. (Indicazioni Geografiche Tipiche) was established. It did not have the expected results and today the situation can be summarized in 5 categories: Vino di Tavola, Vino Tipico, D.O.C. (similar to the French AOC; there are more than 300 vintages), D.O.C.G. and I.G.T.
TYPES OF WINES
The best known Italian red wines, such as Barbaresco or Barolo, are of course found in the Piedmont region (which has 9 D.O.C.G. wines). The tannic Barolo is recognizable by its aromas of cocoa and spices. Tuscany also has good red wines, including the D.O.C. Brunello di Montalcino (and its "Super Tuscan"). The latter is powerful and complex. Chianti is of course the most famous red wine in Italy, but its quality is unfortunately random. In the south, Puglia offers good wines, including Salice Salentino. Italian wines are generally powerful and keep well. They go well with osso bucco milanese or saltimbocca, which are dishes with character.
Dry white wines (Vino Blanco)
The Soave produced in Veneto is a very dry wine and is the star of the white wines. Not particularly aromatic, it pleases the Italians. Frascati from Lazio and Albana di Romagna from Emilia-Romagna, as well as Greco di Tufo from the Campania region are notable, original wines, the last of which has a typical, lemony nose. The peculiarity of Italian white wines is that they are dry, easy to drink and thirst-quenching. Goes well with dishes such as scampi fritti.
VDN and VDL (Moscatel, Marsala)
Italy appreciates muscats, including the Muscat of Alexandria. The moscato di pantelleria of Sicily, is certainly the best known of all. Marsala, also produced in Sicily, is a red sweet natural wine. Although beloved by Italians, these sweet wines are of varying quality and they seem to be sulking more in recent years. There is also the vinification according to passerillage (drying the grapes on straw), of which the Vin Santo of Tuscany is the product par excellence.
Sparkling wines (Vino Spumante)
More than a hundred sparkling wine appellations are listed, but most of them do not reach the quality of a Champagne or a Crémant, having been made according to the closed tank method. The D.O.C. Asti is one of the best known Vino Spumante. Served with desserts such as Tiramisu. Note that only the Franciacorta appellation has been designated D.O.C.G. for sparkling wines because it blends Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir in its production.