In ancient times, the Italian peninsula was commonly referred to as Enotria, or “land of wine,” because of its rich diversity of grape varieties and many acres dedicated to cultivated vines. Today, with over 800 wine grape varieties, 20 uniquely designated wine growing regions, and hundreds of years of winemaking history on the books, Italy’s wine scene is a glorious adventure from grape to glass.
Sue Bella Rosa’s Major Italian Wine Regions
Tuscany & Chianti: The name of Tuscany is synonymous with red wine and great food. Tuscany’s wines are based firmly on the Sangiovese grape, bottled as Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Carmignano and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and come in various levels of quality and price. Sangiovese has a distinctive personality that is difficult to define but that has impressed consumers all over the world.
The overall region of Chianti is located in Tuscany. Chianti stretches over 100 miles from north to south and covers much of Tuscany, overlapping some of the region’s most famous appellations. Sangiovese is the most commonly planted red grape in Italy, but the most famous come from Tuscany. Chianti is always a red, Sangiovese-based wine and it may either be a blended or varietal wine, the addition of the local Canaiolo and Colorino grapes is allowed, as well as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A blended Chianti must comprise a minimum of 80 percent Sangiovese.
Sangiovese: A red Italian wine grape variety that derives its name from the Latin sanguis Jovis, or “the blood of Jupiter”. Sangiovese is savory. Because of its ability to be a chameleon, Sangiovese wines offer a wide range of tastes from very earthy and rustic—as is the case with many Chianti Classico—to round and fruit-forward. Regardless of where it’s grown, it always exhibits cherry flavors with more subtle notes of tomato.
Puglia & Montepulciano d’Abruzzo: The phrase “wine is bottled sunshine” fits Primitivo exceptionally well. Grown primarily in Italy’s Puglia region, in the heel of Italy’s geographic boot, it makes black, fruit-filled, jammy wines with low acidity and medium tannins. There’s no better place to look when you’re in a looking for an inexpensive, delicious wine that can deliver a little warmth into your day.
Montepulciano: Montepulciano is a medium-bodied red wine grape that is supposed to have originated in central Italy. Montepulciano is the 2nd most planted red grape in Italy (after Sangiovese) and has had a reputation for low-priced juicy “pizza-friendly” red wines.
Valdobbiadene, Veneto & Prosecco: Valdobbiadene is a town in the province of Treviso, Veneto, Italy. A wine growing area, just below the Alpine-Dolomite areas of Veneto, it is famous as the capital (with Conegliano) of the sparkling “Prosecco” wine, and the Glera grape.
Prosecco: is both a geographic designation and the former name of the region’s primary grape variety, which is now called Glera. The current Prosecco DOC production zone includes the village of Prosecco and spans nine provinces! Italy also recognizes a more specific “superior” Prosecco terroir with the stricter Prosecco Superiore DOCG in the hilly production areas of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene and Colli Asolani.
Terre Siciliane & Pinot Grigio: The name Terre Siciliane translates literally as ‘Sicilian lands’. Sicily is part of Italy’s ancient winemaking traditions, yet this island in the Mediterranean Sea is also producing some of the country’s most modern and exciting wines. For many years, Sicilian wine was destined to be sold in bulk or used to make the fortified dessert wine Marsala. Today, quality Sicilian wines are the region’s focus, with an emphasis on grape varieties that thrive in the island’s hot weather and volcanic soils.
Some of Sicily’s best wines, like the rich, red Nero d’Avola and the crisp white Grillo and Inzolia, are made with native grapes. The island’s winemakers are also making fine Sicilian wines with international varieties, including like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. This is the region-wide IGT title for the island of Sicily.
Pinot Grigio: Many Sicillian Pinot Grigios are made with organic grapes, farmed in vineyards meeting all the EU natural criteria in Italy. Naturally low in sulfites, this wine is made using traditional methods and modern equipment