In a series of guest posts, Sam Bird of Easyjet is on a round-trip of Europe’s Wine Region. In this penultimate post, we’re in Italy.
Italy has one of the longest histories of wine production in the world. Wine production in the country traces back to the Mesopotamians (in around 4000-3000BC), these people who lived near (present day) Iran left their marks on the Mediterranean coastline, whilst Spaniards brought vines to regions across Italy too. It was he Romans who made the largest contribution to Italy wine production across all regions however. The Romans would drink wine with every meal, mixing it with water to weaken the alcoholic content. Their most prized wine was white and they were fond of sweet tasting numbers too. Developing many important wine production techniques the Romans export these to other areas across Europe and these were common place for many centuries. Unfortunately during the 19th and 20th century Italian wine was criticised for a poor overall quality and so the DOCG wine regulations were put in place to improve consistency and standard – to much success. Today Italy’s wine is considered some of the best in the world!
There are twenty different wine regions to pick, but arguably the best regions are: Tuscany, Campania, Umbria, Piedmont and Lombardy.
Tuscany – This region is famed for its gorgeous selection of red wines. Since the 90’s the areas has been successful at producing wines with a globally popular taste, these Super Tuscans, have made a much respected name for the area. However there is also a growing focus on traditional wine making techniques of late. Meaning there are many great little wines alongside the collectors’ items.
Tuscan wine producers to try: Brunello, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Giovanni Ciacci.
Campania – This area has numerous native grapes including the Fiano, Coda di Volpe and Greco. The style of wine production in the area is mainly that for immediate consumption and enjoyment by locals however there are a number of notable wines that do get exported. The most famous wine of the region is the Lacrima Christi, but has decreased in reputation over the years as it was so overproduced.
Campania producers to try: Marisa Cuomo/Gran Furore and Giuseppe Apicella
Umbria – The stunning area of Umbria, Italy is a popular Italy Holiday choice and also an important wine making region. Although sometimes overshadowed by nearby Tuscany, Umbria is gaining in recognition as an excellent wine producing area, for both white and red wine. Many of the Umbria vineyards are located on the luscious green hillsides.
Umbria producers to try: Caprai, Paolo Bea, Falesco, Ruffino, Antinori and Barone Ricasoli.
Piedmont – Often called the ‘Burgundy of Italy’, this region is renowned for outstanding cuisine and boutique wine production. Most of the Piedmont wine growers are family owned with villages devoted to the business.
Piedmont producers to try: Pio Cesare, Braida, Ceretto, Roagna, Mossio and Also Conterno.
Lombardy – Although Lombardy is known as an industrial centre of the country, its wine production is actually more renowned for its boutique style. Popular Lombardy red’s come from the far north in Valtellina, where the main grape is Chiavennasca. They are located on steep hillsides. There are a variety of excellent white wines produced in Lombardy too.
Producers to try include: Giggi Rono, Nino Negri, Conti Sertoli Salis, Pasini, Provenza, Costaripa and La Basia.