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GLERA (PROSECCO)

 
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Glera is the white grape used to make the wonderful Prosecco, an Italian wine generally produced in its sparkling version. The grape is grown mainly in the Veneto region of Italy, traditionally in an area near Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, in the hills north of Treviso.

HISTORY

It is believed that Prosecco was already produced in Roman times, possibly as the “vinum pucinum” praised by Pliny the Elder. It is, at any rate, one of the oldest wine grapes in Italy and ranks about thirtieth in importance among the country's some 2,000 grape varieties. The name of Prosecco is derived from the northern Italian village of Prosecco (Trieste), where the grape is believed to have originated.

Up until the 1960s, Prosecco sparkling wine was generally sweetish and barely distinguishable from the Asti Spumante wine produced in Piedmont. Since then, production techniques have improved, leading to the extremely high-quality dry wines produced today. According to a 2008 The New York Times report, Prosecco has sharply risen in popularity in markets outside Italy, with global sales growing by double-digit percentages since 1998, aided also by its comparatively low price. It was introduced into the mainstream US market in 2000.

WINE REGIONS

 

The grape is grown mainly in the Veneto region of Italy, traditionally in an area near Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, in the hills north of Treviso.
Most Prosecco is protected as a DOC within Italy, as Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, Prosecco di Conegliano and Prosecco di Valdobbiadene. From 2009, these have been promoted to DOCG status, along with Asolo Prosecco. The most common Prosecco is now Treviso D.O.C.

CONSUMPTION

In Italy, Prosecco is enjoyed as a wine for every occasion. Outside Italy, it is most often drunk as an aperitif, much like Champagne. Like other sparkling wines, Prosecco is served chilled. Unlike champagne, Prosecco does not ferment in the bottle and grows stale with time; it should be drunk as young as possible and preferably before it is two years old.

Compared to other sparkling wines, Prosecco is low in alcohol, about 11 to 12 percent by volume. The flavour of Prosecco has been described as intensely aromatic and crisp, bringing to mind yellow apple, pear, white peach and apricot. Unlike champagne, appreciated for its rich taste and complex secondary aromas, most Prosecco variants have intense primary aromas and are meant to taste fresh, light and comparatively simple.

Most commonly Prosecco is served unmixed, but it also appears in several mixed drinks. It was the original main ingredient in the Bellini cocktail and in the Spritz cocktail, and it can also replace champagne in other cocktails such as the Mimosa. Prosecco also features in the Italian mixed drink Sgroppino (with vodka and lemon sorbet).

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LAMBRUSCO

 
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Lambrusco is the name of both a red wine grape and an Italian wine made principally from the grape. The grapes and the wine originate from four zones in Emilia-Romagna and one in Lombardy, principally around the central provinces of Modena, Parma, Reggio Emilia, and Mantova. The grape has a long winemaking history with archaeological evidence indicating that the Etruscans cultivated the vine. The most highly-rated of its wines are the frothy, frizzante (slightly sparkling) red wines that are designed to be drunk young from one of the five Lambrusco denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) regions: Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce, Lambrusco Reggiano, and Lambrusco Mantovano.

HISTORY

The Lambrusco grape has shown itself prone to developing several clones and sub varieties to where there is no one singular "Lambrusco grape". By the end of the 20th century, ampelographers had identified over 60 varieties of Lambrusco scattered throughout Italy including-Piedmont, Sicily and the Veneto. 

WINE REGIONS

Emilia Romagna

Although traditional Lambrusco is an almost entirely cork-stopped, dry (secco) red wine, the Lambrusco Reggiano DOC is also used to make amabile (slightly sweet) and dolce (sweet) versions of Lambrusco through use of up to 15 percent of the Ancellotta grape.

The wine is noted for high acidity and berry flavors. Many of the wines now exported are blends of Lambrusco from the different DOC and is sold under the Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) designation Emilia.
The wine is is typically made using the Charmat process where a second fermentation is conducted in a pressurized tank.

Lambrusco has been object of massive speculations in the booming years of the wine industry, and its became vastly associated to being a mass-produced low-cost wine of poor quality.

Luckily for us there are wineries like Cantina Bassoli that are now aiming to raise the standards and successfully achieving the expected results by scoring unprecedented awards for the high quality Lambruscos they produce.

Forget the cheaply made stuff on the supermarket shelves, the real Lambrusco is here!

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PINOT GRIGIO

 
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Pinot Grigio is a zesty white wine that is as refreshing as a cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer’s day. It has a punchy acidity with  flavour of lemons, limes, green apples and honeysuckle.

HISTORY

While most believe Pinot Grigio originated in Italy, it was actually born, like many of the most popular grapes of the world, in France, where it is known as Pinot Gris. Thought to be a mutation of the red grape Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio skins are not green like other white grapes, but instead have a greyish blue hue, which is what gives them their name.

The wine was born in Burgundy but found its way to Switzerland in the 1300s, where it was considered a favourite of the Emperor. From here the grape made its way to northern Italy, and the real story of Pinot Grigio was born.

In Italy, Pinot Gris became Pinot Grigio and the wine found wide success in the regions of North-eastern Italy: Lombardy, the Veneto, Friuli, Trentino Alto Adige. From its footing in northern Italy, the wine grew to become the most popular white wine in all of Italy, and then the most popular imported white wine in the U.S.

WINE REGIONS

Pinot Grigio is commonly grown in Lombardy, the Veneto, Friuli, Trentino and Alto Adige

Pinot Grigio has its haters among wine snobs, who claim the wine is too “simple” and “uninteresting”  but this mostly stems from the fact that because Pinot Grigio is so popular, its popularity has resulted in some very bad mass produced bottles which have given the wine a bad name. One of the best ways to ensure you drink delicious and interesting Pinot Grigio is to simply avoid the budget bottles and the wines being sold under huge mass marketing campaigns.

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VERMENTINO

 
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HISTORY

Vermentino is commonly thought to be Spanish in origin. Although it is currently grown in several countries around the Mediterranean, its best known examples come from the island of Sardinia, where the wines are crisp, citrusy and generally unoaked. It is also the most widely planted white grape on the island of Corsica, where high altitude and hot climate vineyards produce more full-bodied wines with heady floral aromas. On the French mainland (where the grape is known as Rolle), it is found in Côtes de Provence and, increasingly, in Languedoc. Although it makes excellent wine, for many years Vermentino was best known for producing table grapes. The grapes are large with a good sugar/acid balance, making them a perfect choice for sweet snacking.

CHARACTERISTICS

Vermentino wines are a pale straw color and relatively low in alcohol, with crisp acids, citrus-leaf aromatics, and pronounced minerality. In the mouth, Vermentino shows flavors of green apple and lime, heightened by refreshing acidity, good richness and medium body. The wine’s crispness makes it a delicious accompaniment to fresh seafood, oysters on the half shell, or grilled Mediterranean vegetables.

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GARGANEGA

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HISTORY

If you thought of Soave you were right! Garganega [gahr-gah-NEH-gah] is a variety of white Italian wine grape widely grown in the Veneto region of North-East Italy, particularly in the provinces of Verona and Vicenza. It is Italy's 6th most widely planted white grape. It forms the basis of Venetian white wine Soave. 

WINE REGIONS

In the Soave region, Garganega is the primary grape and can compose anywhere from 70 to 100% of the blend with Trebbiano and Chardonnay being its usual blending partners. In the Classico zone of Soave, where yields are most often kept in check, the grape can produce a delicate wine with lemon, almond and spicy notes.

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VERDICCHIO

 
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Glera is the white grape used to make the wonderful Prosecco, an Italian wine generally produced in its sparkling version. The grape is grown mainly in the Veneto region of Italy, traditionally in an area near Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, in the hills north of Treviso.

HISTORY

It is believed that Prosecco was already produced in Roman times, possibly as the “vinum pucinum” praised by Pliny the Elder. It is, at any rate, one of the oldest wine grapes in Italy and ranks about thirtieth in importance among the country's some 2,000 grape varieties. The name of Prosecco is derived from the northern Italian village of Prosecco (Trieste), where the grape is believed to have originated.

Up until the 1960s, Prosecco sparkling wine was generally sweetish and barely distinguishable from the Asti Spumante wine produced in Piedmont. Since then, production techniques have improved, leading to the extremely high-quality dry wines produced today. According to a 2008 The New York Times report, Prosecco has sharply risen in popularity in markets outside Italy, with global sales growing by double-digit percentages since 1998, aided also by its comparatively low price. It was introduced into the mainstream US market in 2000.

WINE REGIONS

 

The grape is grown mainly in the Veneto region of Italy, traditionally in an area near Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, in the hills north of Treviso.
Most Prosecco is protected as a DOC within Italy, as Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, Prosecco di Conegliano and Prosecco di Valdobbiadene. From 2009, these have been promoted to DOCG status, along with Asolo Prosecco. The most common Prosecco is now Treviso D.O.C.

CONSUMPTION

In Italy, Prosecco is enjoyed as a wine for every occasion. Outside Italy, it is most often drunk as an aperitif, much like Champagne. Like other sparkling wines, Prosecco is served chilled. Unlike champagne, Prosecco does not ferment in the bottle and grows stale with time; it should be drunk as young as possible and preferably before it is two years old.

Compared to other sparkling wines, Prosecco is low in alcohol, about 11 to 12 percent by volume. The flavour of Prosecco has been described as intensely aromatic and crisp, bringing to mind yellow apple, pear, white peach and apricot. Unlike champagne, appreciated for its rich taste and complex secondary aromas, most Prosecco variants have intense primary aromas and are meant to taste fresh, light and comparatively simple.

Most commonly Prosecco is served unmixed, but it also appears in several mixed drinks. It was the original main ingredient in the Bellini cocktail and in the Spritz cocktail, and it can also replace champagne in other cocktails such as the Mimosa. Prosecco also features in the Italian mixed drink Sgroppino (with vodka and lemon sorbet).

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SANGIOVESE

 
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Sangiovese (san-jo-veh-zeh) is a red Italian wine grape variety whose name derives from the Latin sanguis Jovis, "the blood of Jove". Outside Italy it is most famous as the main component of the Chianti blend in Tuscany, as well as Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Morellino di Scansano, although it can also be used to make varietal wines such as Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino or Sangiovese di Romagna, as well as modern "Super Tuscan" wines like Tignanello. Young Sangiovese has fresh fruity flavours of strawberry and a little spiciness, but it readily takes on oaky, even tarry, flavors when aged in barrels. Sangiovese was already well known by the 16th century.

HISTORY

Early theories on the origin of Sangiovese dated the grape to the time of Roman winemaking. This was due, in part, to the literal translation of the grape's name as the "blood of Jove"-the Roman Jupiter.

WINE REGIONS

Today there is a broad range of style of Chianti reflecting the Sangiovese influence and winemaker's touch. Traditional Sangiovese emphasize herbal and bitter cherry notes, while more modern, Bordeaux-influenced wines have more plum and mulberry fruit with vanilla oak and spice. Stylistic and terroir based differences also emerge among the various sub-zones of the Chianti region.

In Italy, Sangiovese is the most widely planted red grape variety. It is an officially recommended variety in 53 provinces and an authorized planting in an additional 13.

Very good Sangiovese wines are currently being produced in Umbria region.

Tuscany

From the early to mid 20th century, the quality of Chianti was in low regard. DOC regulation that stipulate the relatively bland Trebbiano and Malvasia grapes needed to account for at least 10% of the finished blend, with consequent higher acidity and diluted flavors. Some wineries trucked in full bodied and jammy red wines from Sicily and Puglia to add color and alcohol to the blend—an illegal practice that did little to improve the quality of Chianti. From the 1970s through the 1980s, a revolution of sorts spread through Tuscany as the quality of the Sangiovese grape was rediscovered. Winemakers became more ambitious and willing to step outside DOC regulations to make 100% varietal Sangiovese or a "Super Tuscan" blend with Bordeaux varietals like Cabernet and Merlot.

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CANNONAU

 
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It is commonly known as a red wine from the Italian island of Sardinia. It is made from Cannonau grapes, the local name for the Grenache – one of Sardinia's most successful wine grapes.

HISTORY

It has long been thought that the variety arrived on Sardinia in the early 14th Century. However, in the past few years, Italian researchers have uncovered evidence suggesting that Cannonau (and therefore Grenache) may well have originated right in Sardinia.

WINE REGIONS

The region-wide "Cannonau di Sardegna D.O.C." title covers the entire island, from Sulcis and Cagliari in the south to Gallura in the north – a distance of approximately 250km. It was introduced in June 1972.

The finest examples of Cannonau di Sardegna are arguably from the eastern half of the island, in the Nuoro, Ogliastra, Cagliari and Gallura provinces.

Cannonau di Sardegna has recently attracted unprecedented and remarkable attention, not only for its outstanding quality, but also for its curious association with longevity. Sardinian people tend to live well into their 90s and in many cases to over 100, and diet on the island is usually given as a key factor in this. "Cannonau di Sardegna" Wine tends to be high in anthocyanins and polyphenols, antioxidant-rich compounds which have been linked to heart health.

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DOLCETTO

 
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Dolcetto is a black wine grape variety widely grown in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. The Italian word dolcetto means "little sweet one", but it is not certain that the name originally carried any reference to the grape’s sugar levels: it is possible that it derives from the name of the hills where the vine is cultivated. In any case the wines produced are nearly always dry. They can be tannic and fruity with moderate, or decidedly low, levels of acidity and are typically meant to be consumed one to two years after release.

HISTORY

One theory suggests that the grape originated in France and was brought to Monferrato some time in the eleventh century. A competing theory has the grape originating in the Piedmontese village of Dogliani. In 1593 an ordinance of the municipality of Dogliani which forbade the harvesting of dozzetti grapes earlier than Saint Matthew’s Day, unless an exceptional authorisation had been granted, has been taken to refer to this variety, which is still known in local dialects under the names ‘duzet’ and ‘duset’. A document of 1633 records the presence of Dolcetto in the cellars of the Arboreo family of Valenza. In 1700 Barnabà Centurione sent the wine as a gift to King George II of Great Britain.

WINE REGIONS

Most Dolcetto is found in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy, where many of the top estates produce Dolcetto on less favoured sites as an "early to market wine" to generate some income for the winery while the Nebbiolo and Barbera are being matured. It is particularly associated with the towns of Dogliani and Diano d'Alba in the province of Cuneo, although the greatest volumes come from around Alba and Ovada. The grape is also found in Liguria under the name Ormeasco, and in the Oltrepò Pavese where it is called Nebbiolo or Nibièu.

All but one of the 100% Dolcetto DOCs have two levels, the "standard" version typically requiring a minimum 11.5% ABV, the Superiore 12.5%. They are Dolcetto di Dogliani (DOCG since 2005), Dolcetto d'Acqui, Dolcetto d'Alba, Dolcetto d'Asti, Dolcetto delle Langhe Monregalesi, Dolcetto di Diano d'Alba, Dolcetto d'Ovada and Langhe Dolcetto (no Superiore). Riviera Ligure di Ponente Ormeasco requires >95% Dolcetto/Ormeasco; Colli Tortonesi Dolcetto, Monferrato Dolcetto and Pineronese Dolcetto a minimum of 85%, and Valsusa a minimum of 60%. Golfo Del Tigullio requires 20-70%, while Lago di Corbara and Rosso Orvietano can contain up to 20% Dolcetto.

Dolcetto di Dogliani


Dolcetto di Dogliani, and Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore are Italian red wines produced in the Langhe using only the Dolcetto grape variety. The wines were recognized as DOC in 1974. In 2005 the original DOC for Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore was revoked and replaced by a DOCG; this wine, which can also be sold under the name Dogliano is made within a more limited zone than the DOC and the yield of grapes is restricted to 70 quintals per hectare. Furthermore, to qualify for the DOCG status the wines must be aged for at least one year. The vineyards are restricted to the hilly areas within the boundaries of the communes of Bastia Mondovì, Belvedere Langhe, Cigliè, Clavesana, Dogliani, Farigliano, Monchiero and Rocca Cigliè, plus parts of the communes of Cissone and Somano

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PINOT NERO (Pinot Noir)

 
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Pinot Nero, in french called Pinot noir (French pronunciation: [pinoˈnwaʁ]) is a red wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. The name may also refer to wines created predominantly from Pinot noir grapes. The name is derived from the French words for "pine" and "black" alluding to the varietals' tightly clustered dark purple pine cone-shaped bunches of fruit.

Pinot noir grapes are grown around the world, mostly in the cooler regions, but the grape is chiefly associated with the Burgundy region of France. It is widely considered to produce some of the finest wines in the world, but is a difficult variety to cultivate and transform into wine.

HISTORY

Pinot noir is an ancient variety that may be only one or two generations removed from wild vines. The origins of the variety are unclear: In "De Re Rustica", Columella describes a grape variety similar to Pinot noir in Burgundy during the 1st century AD, however, vines have grown wild as far north as Belgium in the days before phylloxera, and it is possible that Pinot represents an independent domestication of Vitis vinifera. The vines of southern France may represent Caucasian stock transported by the ancient Greeks.

Ferdinand Regner has proposed that Pinot Noir is a cross between Pinot Meunier (Schwarzriesling) and Traminer, but this work has not been replicated. In fact Pinot Meunier appears to be a Pinot Noir with a mutation in the epidermal cells which makes the shoot tips hairy and the vine a little smaller. This means that Pinot Meunier is a chimera with two tissue layers of different genetic makeup, one of which is identical to Pinot Noir. As such, Pinot Meunier cannot be the parent of Pinot Noir.

Pinot Gris is a bud sport of Pinot noir, presumably representing a somatic mutation in either the genes that control grape colour. Pinot Blanc may represent a further mutation of Pinot Gris. The DNA profiles of both Pinot Gris and Blanc are identical to Pinot Noir; the other two major Pinots, Pinot Moure and Pinot Teinturier, are also genetically very similar.

The Wrotham (pronounced "ruttum") Pinot is an English variety with white hairs on the upper surface of the leaves, and is particularly resistant to disease. Edward Hyams of Oxted Viticultural Research Station was alerted to a strange vine growing against a cottage wall in Wrotham in Kent, which local lore said was descended from vines brought over by the Romans. An experimental Blanc de Noir was made at Oxted, and in 1980 Richard Peterson took cuttings to California, where he now makes a pink sparkling Wrotham Pinot. Wrotham Pinot is sometimes regarded as a synonym of Pinot Meunier, but it has a higher natural sugar content and ripens two weeks earlier.

Pinot Noir appears to be particularly prone to mutation (suggesting it has active transposable elements), and has a long history in cultivation, so there are hundreds of different clones such as Pinot Fin and Pinot Tordu. More than 50 are officially recognized in France compared to only 25 of the much more widely planted Cabernet Sauvignon. The French Etablissement National Technique pour l’Amelioration de la Viticulture (ENTAV) has set up a programme to select the best clones of Pinot. This program has succeeded admirably in increasing the number of quality clones available to growers. Nonetheless, in the new world, particularly in Oregon, wines of extraordinary quality continue to be made from the earlier Pommard and Wadensvil clones.

Gamay Beaujolais is an early-ripening clone of Pinot Noir. It is used mostly in California but is also seen in New Zealand. It was brought to California by Paul Masson. Frühburgunder (Pinot Noir Précoce) is an early-ripening grape that is thought to be a clone of Pinot Noir - it's possible that the two are the same mutant.

In August 2007, French researchers announced the sequencing of the genome of Pinot noir. It is the first fruit crop to be sequenced, and only the fourth flowering plant.

ITALIAN WINE REGIONS

In Italy, where Pinot Noir is known as Pinot Nero, it has traditionally been cultivated in the Alto Adige, Collio Goriziano, Oltrepò Pavese and Trentino regions to produce Burgundy-style red wines. Cultivation of Pinot noir in other regions of Italy, mostly since the 1980s, has been challenging due to climate and soil conditions.

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MONTEPULCIANO

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Montepulciano is a classic, Italian wine grape and one of the most wide widely planted grapes in the country. The grape makes deeply red wines and is adaptable to traditional or modern winemaking styles. Montepulciano makes the famous wine Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, the rustic, medium-bodied red wine of central Italy.

Montepulciano is a red grape variety indigenous to Italy. It is the second-most widely planted red grape in Italy, after sangiovese. The grape plays a role in many flavorful yet easy-drinking wines that pair well with food, especially pizza.

Montepulciano grows throughout Italy, with concentrations along the Adriatic coast in the Abruzzo and Marche regions in central Italy, and in Puglia and Molise in southern Italy. The grape needs a long growing season to ripen fully, so the sunny climates of the central and southern parts of the country suit it best. When grown in cooler northern Italy, montepulciano can taste unpleasantly green and underripe.

Montepulciano is a late-ripening grape that has thick skin, resulting in a richly colored purple wine. It can be quite concentrated with bold tannins when grown with care, but is more likely to be rather thin if allowed to over-produce in the vineyard. The grape usually shows elevated acidity and moderate alcohol.

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PRIMITIVO

 
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When you’re tired of the same old pinot noirs or cabernet sauvignons, try a juicy primitivo from the southern tip of Italy. Primitivo, the Italian name for zinfandel, has shed its past as an obscure blending grape in inexpensive wines, and it is now being made into distinctive, high-quality, varietal wines.

Primitivo is a red wine grape variety that is also known as zinfandel. It is the third-most planted grape in Puglia, in southern Italy. Primitivo makes wines that are big, jammy, and rustic, with high alcohol, chewy tannins, and a sweet finish.

HISTORY

Primitivo was brought across the Adriatic Sea to southern Italy from Croatia, where it originated, some time in the 1700s. The Croatian grape was called crljenak kaštelanski or tribidrag, but an Italian monk renamed the grape primitivo (from the Latin “early ripening”) because he noticed that it ripened before other grapes in his vineyard.

During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, primitivo was mainly used as a blending grape to bring alcohol and body to other Italian red wines. In the 1990s, the European government offered many grape growers in Italy, especially in the south, financial incentives to pull up their vines as a way to decrease the volume of low-quality wine being made in the EU. Growers were happy to pull up their primitivo bush vines, which were hard to harvest and didn’t produce much income.

DNA analysis from UC Davis in California in the late 1990s proved that the primitivo grape of Italy is genetically identical to the California zinfandel grape. Starting in 1999, Italian producers could legally label their primitivo wines as zinfandel, which allowed them to gain popularity as varietal wines in the export market. Plantings of primitivo grapes have increased by about 50% since their low point in the 1990s.

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SHIRAZ/SYRAH

 
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Syrah or Shiraz is a dark-skinned grape grown throughout the world and used primarily to produce powerful red wines. Whether sold as Syrah or Shiraz, these wines enjoy great popularity.

Syrah is used as a varietal and is also blended. Following several years of strong planting, Syrah was estimated in 2004 to be the world's 7th most grown grape at 142,600 hectares (352,000 acres).

DNA profiling in 1999 found Syrah to be the offspring of two obscure grapes from southeastern France, Dureza and Mondeuse Blanche. It should not be confused with Petite Sirah, a synonym for Durif, a cross of Syrah with Peloursin dating from 1880.

HISTORY

Syrah has a long documented history in the Rhône region of Southeastern France, and it was not known if it had originated in that region. In 1998, a study conducted by Carole Meredith's research group in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at University of California, Davis used DNA typing and extensive grape reference material from the viticultural research station in Montpellier, France to conclude that Syrah was the offspring of the grape varieties Dureza (father) and Mondeuse Blanche (mother).

Dureza is a dark-skinned grape variety from the Ardèche region in France that has all but disappeared from the vineyards, and the preservation of such varieties is a speciality of Montpellier. Mondeuse Blanche is a white grape variety cultivated in the Savoy region, and is still found in very small amounts in that region's vineyards today. Both varieties are somewhat obscure today and have never achieved anything near Syrah's fame or popularity, and there is no record of them ever having been cultivated at long distances from their present home. Thus, both Syrah's parents come from a limited area in southeastern France, very close to northern Rhône. Based on these findings, the researchers have concluded that Syrah originated from northern Rhône.

The DNA typing leaves no room for doubt in this matter, and the numerous other hypotheses of the grape's origin which have been forwarded during the years all completely lack support in form of documentary evidence or ampelographic investigations, be it by methods of classical botany or DNA. Instead, they seem to have been based primarily or solely on the name or synonyms of the variety. Because of varying orthography for grape names, especially for old varieties, this is in general very thin evidence. Despite this, origins such as Syracuse or the Iranian city of Shiraz have been proposed.

The parentage information does however not reveal how old the grape variety is, i.e., when the pollination of a Mondeuse Blanche vine by Dureza took place, leading to the original Syrah seed plant. In the year AD 77, Pliny the Elder wrote in his Naturalis Historia about the wines of Vienne (which today would be called Côte-Rôtie), where the Allobroges made famous and prized wine from a dark-skinned grape variety that had not existed some 50 years earlier, in Virgil's age. Pliny called the vines of this wine Allobrogica, and it has been speculated that it could be today's Syrah. However, the description of the wine would also fit, for example, Dureza and Pliny's observation that the vines of Allobrogica was resistant to cold is not entirely consistent with Syrah.

The name Shiraz


It is called Syrah in its country of origin, France, as well as in the rest of Europe, Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, Uruguay and most of the United States. The name Shiraz became popular for this grape variety in Australia, where it has long been established as the most grown dark-skinned variety. In Australia it was also commonly called Hermitage up to the late 1980s, but since that name is also a French Protected designation of origin, this naming practice caused a problem in some export markets and was dropped. The name Shiraz for this grape variety is also commonly used in South Africa and Canada.

The grape is also known under many other synonyms that are used in various parts of the world including Antourenein Noir, Balsamina, Candive, Entournerein, Hignin Noir, Marsanne Noir, Schiras, Sirac, Syra, Syrac, Serine, and Sereine.

It seems that many of the legends of Syrah's origins come from one of its many synonyms - Shiraz. Since there also is a city in Iran called Shiraz, where the famous Shirazi wine was produced, some legends have claimed that the Syrah grape originated in Shiraz, and was brought to Rhône, which would make Syrah a local French synonym and Shiraz the proper name of the variety.

There are at least two significantly different versions of the myth, giving different accounts of how the variety is supposed to have been brought from Shiraz to Rhône and differing up to 1,800 years in dating this event. In one version, the Phocaeans should have brought Syrah/Shiraz to their colony around Marseilles (then known as Massilia), which was founded around 600 BC. The grape should then later have made its way to northern Rhône, which was never colonized by the Phocaeans. No documentary evidence exists to back up this legend, and it also requires that the variety later has vanished from the Marseilles region without leaving any trace.

In another version, the person who brought the variety to Rhône is even named, being the crusader Gaspard de Stérimberg, who is supposed to have built the chapel at Hermitage. Even before the advent of DNA typing of grapes, there were several problems with this legend. First, no ampelographic investigations of the grapes from Shiraz seem to have been made. Second, it is documented that the famous Shirazi wine was white, ruling out the use of dark-skinned grapes such as Syrah, and no known descriptions of this wine's taste and character indicate any similarity whatsoever with red wines from the Rhône. Third, it is highly doubtful if any crusader would have journeyed as far east as Persia, since the crusades were focused on the Holy Land.

The legend connecting Syrah with the city of Shiraz in Iran may, however, be of French origin. James Busby wrote in Journal of a recent visit to the principal vineyards of Spain and France that the 1826 book Œnologie Française "stated that, according to the tradition of the neighbourhood, the plant [Scyras] was originally brought from Shiraz in Persia, by one of the hermits of the mountain".

Since the name Shiraz has been used primarily in Australia in modern time, while the earliest Australian documents use the spelling "Scyras", it has been speculated (among others by Jancis Robinson[8]) that the name Shiraz is in fact a so-called "strinization" of Syrah's name via Scyras. However, while the names Shiraz and Hermitage gradually seem to have replaced Scyras in Australia from the mid-19th century, the spelling Shiraz has also been documented in British sources back to at least the 1830s. So, while the name or spelling Shiraz may be an effect of the English language on a French name, there is no evidence that it actually originated in Australia, although it was definitely the Australian usage and the Australian wines that made the use of this name popular.

WINE REGIONS

The history of Syrah production in Italy had its beginnings in the mid-1980s, with pioneering offerings such as Collezione De Marchi, "invented" by Paolo De Marchi at Isole e Olena in Chianti Classico, and Case Via, produced by Giovanni Manetti and enologist Franco Bernabei at Fontodi in the same area.

Rather than a novelty, however, it would be more correct to speak of Syrah today as a rediscovery, since historical sources tell of the Syrah grape in Italy well before the advent of phylloxera prior to 1879 in various regions of the peninsula—even if it was not produced as a monovarietal wine. Piedmont knew it as "Piccola Barbera," where it was blended with Freisa, and in the Veneto it was mixed with the local red varieties. It was later grown in Umbria, Lazio and the Marche, where it sensorilally beefed up Sangiovese and Cesanese.

The variety was in Tuscany as well, reputed according to the scientific analysis of the day to show good tolerance of peronospora, which was wreaking havoc in those years. It was present in the areas of Pisa and of Lucca (where it would be a component of the Montecarlo DOC), but the provinces of Arezzo and Florence welcomed it too, where the Chianti of the day, produced both from red varieties such as Sangiovese and Canaiolo, and whites such as Trebbiano and Malvasia, picked up "smoothness and color" from Syrah. Traces of Syrah were present in Lombardy, Sicily and Piedmont, and were utilized in experimental plantings and in varietal collections.

Following the phylloxera era, between the two world wars, Syrah was growing in 10 regions, according to a 1934 analysis. But in the next 30 years, and after the large-scale replantings of the 1950s and 1960s, Syrah practically disappeared, with presences only in Valle d'Aosta, Tuscany and Umbria.

From the 1990s on, the picture changes radically and with steady increases: 94 acres were planted in 1995, 185 in 1998, 370 in 1999, 680 in 2001, 927 in 2002 and 1,100 in 2003. A 2000 vineyard census counts over 2,500 acres of Syrah in Italy (417 in Tuscany, 60 in Lazio, 50 in Sardinia and 2,000 in Sicily), and in 2004, the Vivai cooperativi di Rauscedo, Italy's largest specialized nursery, reported that Syrah had now reached 4,700 acres, with Tuscany and Sicily still in first place, followed by Sardinia, Lazio, the Marche, Apulia, Umbria and Abruzzo.

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MOSCATO BIANCO

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Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains is a white wine grape of Greek origin that is a member of the Muscat family of Vitis vinifera. Its name comes from its characteristic small berry size and tight clusters. It is known under a variety of local names such as Moscato bianco, Muscat blanc, Muscat Canelli, Muscat de Frontignan, Muscat de Lunel, Muscat d'Alsace, Muskateller, Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Moscatel rosé and Sárgamuskotály.

While technically a white grape, there are strains of Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains vines that produce berries that are pink or reddish brown. The same vine could potentially produce berries of one color one year and a different color the next. These strains are more prevalent in Australia, where the grape is also known as Frontignac and Brown Muscat. South Africa's Muskadel strain tends to show the same darker characteristics.Variants where the differing grape colour is stable are typically classified as separate grape varieties Muscat Rouge à Petit Grains for red skin colour and Muscat Rose à Petit Grains for pink skin colour.

HISTORY

Ampelographers have identified the grape with the Anathelicon moschaton grape used by the Ancient Greeks and the Apiane vines planted by the Romans (so named because of the fondness that insects, such as bees (Latin apis), have for devouring the flesh of the grapes). It was probably first introduced to France by the Greeks through their trading port at Marseille and later spread to the Narbonne region by Romans in their conquest of Gaul. It was a chief export of Frontignan by the time of Charlemagne and plantings were recorded in Germany by the 12th century. It became a popular planting in Alsace by the 16th century. It was introduced to South Africa in the 18th century and became the mainstay of the famous Vin de Constance. It is believed that the grapes were sourced in Frontignan.

WINE REGIONS

In Greece, the grape is found on the island of Samos and near Patras in the Peloponnese. On Samos, it produces a Vin Doux Naturelle, aromatic dry white wines and a Liastos or straw wine. The high quality wines come from vineyards between 500 and 1000 metres above sea level. Near Patras it is used to produce a Vin Doux Naturelle.

In Italy, the grape is the most widely planted member of the Muscat family and is most commonly known as Moscato Bianco. It is the oldest known variety grown in Piedmont and is the primary component of the Asti and Moscato d'Asti wines, as well as for the aromatized and fortified vermouths. It is also commonly used for fortified dessert wines as well as the semi-sparkling Frizzante.

In France, the grape is used as a blending grape with Grenache blanc and Muscat of Alexandria in vins doux naturels wines from the Frontignan area such as BanyulsCôtes d'AglyGrand RoussillonRivesaltes and St-Jean de Minervois. It is the primary grape in the Rhône wine Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise and a blending grape with Clairette blanc in the recherché sparkling wine Clairette de Die (brand label Tradition). In Alsace, it is known for the highly aromatic and dry wines that it produce. In the Hérault region it is the primary grape for Muscat de Mireval.

In Spain, the grape is primarily called Moscatel de Grano Menudo, and it is the second most planted Muscat for wine. It is found across Spain, with the majority of the plantings in Castilla-La Mancha. Spain grew 21,902 hectares (54,121 acres) of Moscatel de Grano Menudo in 2015.

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ARNEIS

 
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Arneis is a white Italian wine grape variety originating from Piedmont, Italy. It is most commonly found in the hills of the Roero, northwest of Alba, where it is part of the white Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) wines of Roero. It can also be used to produce DOC wines in Langhe.  Arneis (literally: little rascal, in Piemontese) is so called because it is regarded as a somewhat difficult variety to grow. It is a crisp and floral varietal, and has been grown for centuries in the region. The white wines made from the Arneis grape tend to be dry and full bodied with notes of pears and apricots.

HISTORY

Wine historians disagree on how long Arneis has been growing in the Piedmont region and under what name. A potential root of the name Arneis in the Piemontese dialect, renesi, makes an appearance in the description of several different grape varieties in the 15th century. Some historians believe that Arneis may be the Ranaysii grape that was documented in 1432 growing in the province of Turin around the village of Chieri. Around Canale in the province of Cuneo a Reneysium grape was documented in 1478. The first usage of the name Arneis appears in Italian ampelographer Count Giuseppe di Rovasenda's 1877 text where the grape was described as already being well established in Piedmont.

Despite sharing several similar synonyms, Arneis has no genetic relationship to the notable Piedmontese red wine grape Nebbiolo but the two grapes do share a close historic relationship. For centuries the white Arneis grape was used to soften the tannins and harshness of Nebbiolo grape in the wines of the Barolo region, hence the common synonym of Nebbiolo bianco, Barolo bianco or "white Barolo". In the vineyard, Arneis was often planted with Nebbiolo in a field blend with the aim of having the sweet scent of ripe Arneis berries attract birds and keep them away from the more valuable Nebbiolo clusters.

In the 20th century, as Barolo producers begun focusing on 100% varietal Nebbiolo, acreage steadily declined almost to the point where the variety was on the verge of extinction. By the 1970s, only two producers were making any kind of Arneis, Bruno Giacosa and Vietti. The 1980s saw a renaissance in interest for white Piedmont wines and plantings began to increase. By 2000, there were 745 hectares (1,840 acres). By 2006 the number of plantings of Arneis declined to around 610 hectares (1,500 acres) nearly all found in the Roero and Langhe region of Piedmont.

 

WINE REGIONS

Arneis is found primarily in the Italian wine region of Piedmont where it is featured in the white DOC/G wines of Roero and Langhe. It is permitted as a blending grape in the red Nebbiolo based wines of Roero but its use in this capacity is today rarely seen. In 2004, nearly 1 million gallons (38,000 hectoliters) of DOC designated Arneis was produced in these two regions. Outside of Piedmont, limited plantings of the grape can be found in Liguria and on the Italian island of Sardinia.

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CHARDONNAY

 
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Chardonnay is a green-skinned grape variety used to make white wine. It is believed to have originated in the Burgundy wine region of eastern France but is now grown wherever wine is produced, from England through Italy to New Zealand. For new and developing wine regions, growing Chardonnay is seen as a "rite of passage" and an easy segue into the international wine market.

HISTORY

For much of its history, a connection was assumed between Chardonnay and Pinot noir or Pinot blanc. In addition to being found in the same region of France for centuries, ampelographers noted that the leaves of each plant have near-identical shape and structure. Modern DNA fingerprinting research at University of California, Davis, now suggests that Chardonnay is the result of a cross between the Pinot and Gouais Blanc (Heunisch) grape varieties. It is believed that the Romans brought Gouais Blanc from the Balkans, and it was widely cultivated by peasants in Eastern France.
 

WINE REGIONS

Chardonnay has a long history in Italy but for a large part of it, the grape was commonly confused with Pinot blanc—often with both varieties inter-planted in the same vineyard and blended together. This happened despite the fact that Chardonnay grapes get more golden yellow in color close to harvest time and can be visually distinguished from Pinot blanc. In the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol region this confusion appeared in the synonyms for each grape with Pinot blanc being known as "Weissburgunder" (White Burgundy) and Chardonnay was known as "Gelber Weissburgunder" (Golden White Burgundy). By the late 20th century, more concentrated efforts were put into identifying Chardonnay and making pure varietal versions of the wine. In 1984, it was granted its first Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) in the Alto Adige region. By 2000, it was Italy's fourth most widely planted white wine grape.

Though many varietal form of Chardonnay are produced, and the numbers are increasing, for most of its history in Italian winemaking Chardonnay was a blending grape. Besides Pinot bianco, Chardonnay can be found in blends. Most Chardonnay plantings are located in the northern wine regions, though plantings can be found throughout Italy as far south as Sicily and Apulia. In Piedmont and Tuscany, the grape is being planted in sites that are less favourable to Dolcetto and Sangiovese respectively. In Lombardy and Trentino Alto Adige the grape is used for high quality spumante as Franciacorta and Trento DOC. In the Veneto area it grows beautifully and it produces outstanding wines when vinified in purity. Chardonnay is also found in the Valle d'Aosta DOC and Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. 

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SOAVE

 
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Soave is one of Italian most appreciated white wines. Soave is Italian for “Suave“, and although many believe that the name is related to the often sleek and smooth characteristics of the wine, it actually comes from the name of the village of Soave, nestled on the hills few kilometers East of Verona, along the motorway heading to Venice.

There are records proving that the Garganega grapevine was grown in the area of Soave since ancient time, in fact Soave was an important Roman village along the via Postumia, one of the main Roman roads in northern Italy. Wine was transported along this way since that time, and its fame, especially for the sweet version, was already great in the past.

The most important vine for Soave wine is Garganega, one of the oldest grape varieties in Italy. It is a very versatile grape and in recent years it has been introduced in other growing areas especially in northern Italy, even if it is only in Soave that Garganega expresses its true excellence due to the peculiar soil composition.

Beside Garganega, Trebbiano di Soave is another major traditional grape variety used in the grape blend of Soave wines.

All Soave dry wines have straw yellow color, sometimes with green highlights. Crisp nose of gentle flowers. The palate is delicate and light, with a gentle acidity and a bitter finish of almonds. Basic Soaves should be drunk within a couple of years from the vintage, while Soave Superiores, especially those aged in oak, can be stored in cellar up to 4-6 years and sometimes more.

Soave D.O.C: certainly is one of the most appreciated Italian white wines. It is characterized by vibrant tartness which makes it very popular as an aperitif in all bars around Verona.

Soave Classico D.O.C: This is undoubtedly a more complex wine made from hillside grapes. It pairs wonderfully with seafood, shellfish, antipasti (Italian appetizers), soups and, in general, with light and tasty dishes.

In the Italian labelling system, the word “Classico” means that a wine has been made with grapes grown in the historical production area of that specific wine. For Soave, the Classico area is within the municipality of Soave and Monteforte d’Alpone towns. The characteristic volcanic soil of these areas is an important element in the creation of a typical well balanced mineral palate.

Soave Superiore D.O.C.G: This is Soave top wine, made with grapes carefully selected for their ripeness level, from the best vineyards with limited yields on the hills north of Soave wine producing area. A special attention is given to the evolution of the wine in the cellars. Due to its great popularity the quality of Soave wine had dropped in the past 30 years. Especially basic Soave were often too light and bland. With Soave Superiore there is now a true Soave renaissance and you finally can find absolutely top-notch white wines which pairs fantastically with cheeses, eggs and white meats and even, for those Soave aged in wood, with more complex dishes like baccala' (italian style cod), and pasta with duck based sauces.

Recioto di Soave DOCG: in 1998 this was the first wine in Veneto to achieve the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita.

Recioto di Soave is a wine with ancient traditions. The existence in the region of Verona, of a sweet white wine similar to today’s Recioto di Soave is testified to as far back as the 5th century.

Like Recioto della Valpolicella, Recioto di Soave is made with semi-dried grapes. Selected bunches of Garganega grapes are left to dry hanged to special racks in lofts above the cellars. They would be left to rest there for at least three months and then pressed and fermented.

Recioto di Soave has a beautiful honey like color. The palate is smooth and rich and its sweetness is never overpowering thanks to the good balance given by Garganega's typical acidity.

Recioto di Soave is excellent with dry cakes and cookies like cantucci and sbrisolona, dry pastry and baked desserts. To try it with aged and moulded cheeses such as grana padano or gorgonzola. It is also a perfect meditation wine, to be enjoyed at the end of a meal.

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CATARRATTO BIANCO

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Catarratto is a grape variety from Sicily, off the southern coast of Italy, and is mostly used in the production of light, easy-drinking white wines. Despite being grown almost exclusively in Sicily, it is one of Italy's most commonly planted grape varieties, making up around 60 percent of the island's total vineyard area.

The variety is commonly regarded (and widely used) as a lower-quality blending component, or an ingredient in Marsala wines, as well as grape concentrate. Catarratto is high-yielding and rather neutral-tasting, with low acidity – hardly the benchmarks of a top quality grape. That said, careful vinification from dedicated producers has shown the variety is capable of producing interesting wines with juicy texture and crisp lemon flavors.

Catarratto is permitted in Alcamo and Etna DOC wines, the latter blended with Carricante. It is also used widely in IGT wines, where less-stringent winemaking regulations let winemakers coax more from the grape. Here, it is blended with other varieties like InzoliaGrillo and Chardonnay, but occasionally shows up as a varietal wine.

Catarratto was long thought to be two distinct grape varieties, Catarratto Bianco Comune and Catarratto Bianco Lucido. DNA testing in 2008 suggested that the two are genetically identical and, instead of being separate varieties, they are in fact different clones of the same grape variety. There is some argument as to whether or not one is superior: both are high yielding, but Comune is used more often as a bulk wine, and is distinguished by a white bloom on the berries.

The same research suggested that Catarratto is probably a descendent of Garganega, the key white-wine grape variety in northeastern Italy's Soave wines.

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PINOT BIANCO

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The grape Pinot Bianco (Pinot Blanc) comes from genetic mutations of Pinot Noir.
It is part of the so-called "international" grapes , of French origin, but widely cultivated around the world. It is a very early ripening variety, and this makes it suitable for cultivation in regions considered "extreme " for viticulture, for this reason is widely grown in France and Germany.

In Italy the Pinot Bianco grape goes back to the 800's and has spread in a wide range of regions and used in many denominations but produces the best examples in Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Alto Adige.

Made with the Pinot Bianco grape (also known as Weissburgunder in German), Pinot Bianco wines from north-east Italy are extremely elegant and offer a tantalizing combination of creamy and crisp, dry and mineral-driven.

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BARBERA

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Barbera is a popular red Italian grape variety that produces good yields and is known for deep colour, low tannins and high levels of acid (which is unusual for a warm climate red grape). Century-old vines still exist in many regional vineyards and allow for the production of long-aging, robust red wines with intense fruit and enhanced tannic content.

The best known appellation is the DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) Barbera d'Asti in the Piedmont region. When young, the wines offer a very intense aroma of fresh red and blackberries. In the lightest versions notes of cherries, raspberries and blueberries and with notes of blackberry and black cherries in wines made of more ripe grapes. Many producers employ the use of toasted (seared over a fire) oak barrels, which provides for increased complexity, aging potential, and hints of vanilla notes.

The lightest versions are generally known for flavours and aromas of fresh fruit and dried fruits, and are not recommended for cellaring. Wines with better balance between acid and fruit, often with the addition of oak and having a high alcohol content are more capable of cellaring; these wines often result from reduced yield viticultural methods.

HISTORY

Barbera is believed to have originated in the hills of Monferrato in central Piemonte, Italy where it has been known from the thirteenth century. Documents from the cathedral of Casale Monferrato between 1246-1277 detail leasing agreements of vineyard lands planted with "de bonis vitibus barbexinis" or Barbera, as it was known then. However, one ampelographer, Pierre Viala, speculates that Barbera originated in the Lombardy region of Oltrepò Pavese. In the 19th and 20th century, waves of Italian immigrants brought Barbera to the Americas where the vine took root in California and Argentina among other places. Recent DNA evidence suggest that Barbera may be related to the French-Spanish vine Mourvedre.

WINE REGIONS

Northwest Italy is the viticultural home for Barbera, but Italian immigrants spread it through much of the New World, where its acidity is valued in blended wines for the 'freshness' it imparts. Barbera is found in the Italian region of Piedmont, particularly in Monferrato, and to a lesser extent further south. Nearly half of all grape vine plantings in Piedmont are Barbera. The earlier-ripening Barbera is grown on the cooler lower slopes below the Nebbiolo, and other secondary locations. This explains why relatively little Barbera is grown around Alba, where the wines are entitled to the appellation Barbera d'Alba. Thus the best known Barbera is the DOCG of Barbera d'Asti.

ITALY

As of 2000 there were 70,000 acres (28,300 hectares) of Barbera planted, making it the third most widely planted red grape variety in Italy. In the Piedmont region Barbera is widely grown in Asti and Monferrato regions. While there is no officially defined Classico region, like Chianti Classico, the region of the Asti province between the towns of Nizza Monferrato, Vinchio, Castelnuovo Calcea, Agliano, Belveglio and Rocchetta are considered among locals to be the "heart" of Barbera in Piedmont. In 2001, the town of Nizza was officially recognized as a sub-region within the greater Barbera d'Asti DOC. Being one of the warmest areas in Asti, Nizza has the potential to produce the ripest Barbera with sugar levels to match some of the grape's high acidity. The wines of Barbera d'Asti tend to be bright in color and elegant while Barbera d'Alba tend to have a deep color with more intense, powerful fruit.

Outside of Piedmont Barbera is found throughout Italy. In the Lombardy region, it is seen as a varietal in Oltrepò Pavese with wines that range from slightly spritzy to semi-sparkling frizzante. Elsewhere in Lombardy it is blended with Croatina and as part of a larger blend component in the red wines of Franciacorta. Southeast of Piedmont, Barbera is found in Emilia-Romagna in the hills between Piacenza, Bologna and Parma. In Sardinia, the grape is used around Cagliari in the wine known as Barbera Sarda and in Sicily, the grape is used in various blends under the names Perricone or Pignatello made near Agrigento. Barbera was an important grape in re-establishing the wine industry of the Apulia and Campania regions following World War II due to its high yields and easy adaption to mechanical harvesting.

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MARZEMINO

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Marzemino is a red Italian wine grape that is primarily grown around Isera, south of Trentino. The wine is most noted for its mention in the opera Don Giovanni of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ("Versa il vino! Eccellente Marzemino!"). The vine ripens late and is susceptible to many grape diseases including oidium. Wine produced from the grape has a characteristic dark tint and light plummy taste.

Ampelographers have long theorized that the grape originated in northern Italy. Recent DNA profiling conducted at the research facility in San Michele all'Adige revealed Marzemino to have a parent-offspring relationship with the Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine grapes Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso and Teroldego which gives further evidence to its likely origins in this region.

HISTORY

This ancient grape found its new homeland in Vallagarina. In fact, it seems to have originated in the Austrian city of Marzamin, imported by Trentino soldiers at the service of the Republic of Venice. In any case, it is associated by everyone with the Trentino and it is so renowned that it is mentioned in "Don Giovanni" by Mozart and Da Ponte. There is evidence that this variety of grape has been grown in the Lagarina Valley since the 15th Century .
The most known Marzemino is from Veneto, now also in Trentino, Lombardy, Friuli and Emilia. Not by chance it has many synonyms: Bassamino, Barzemin Berzamino, Berzemino, Marzemina, Marzemino Gentile, Marzemino d'Istria, etc. 

WINE REGIONS

Marzemino is grown throughout northern Italy most notably in the Lombardia, Trentino, Veneto and Friuli-Venezia Giulia wine region. In Lombardy it is often used as a blending grape, most often partnering with Barbera, Groppello, Merlot or Sangiovese. In Trentino, it is often made as a varietal wine. While it is believed to have played a minor role in the history of Chianti, today it is rarely seen in Tuscany.

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GROPPELLO

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Groppello is a red wine grape variety grown all along the southwestern side of Lake Garda in northern Italy. The Garda DOC that makes use of the variety straddles the regional border between Lombardy and Veneto, and is one of very few DOCs to cross over from one region to another. This may seem very forward looking and collaborative (it should not be forgotten that Italian regional unity was only achieved in the late 19th Century), but divisions remain: on the Veneto side of the border, Gropello retains its local name, Rossignola.

Groppello's main use is in the red wines of the Garda and Riviera del Garda Classico DOCs, in which it plays a dominant role (30-60 percent), complemented by SangioveseMarzemino and Barbera. Single variety Groppello wines are permitted under both of these DOC titles, but are extremely rare, mostly because Sangiovese (far more fashionable and profitable) is encroaching on the variety's traditional territory.

Slightly farther east, just across the regional border in Veneto, Gropello (Rossignola) is sometimes used as a minor component (up to 10 percent) in the red wines of Valpolicella.

Groppello wines are typically medium bodied and have a slightly bitter, nutty aroma, sometimes likened to that of bitter almonds.

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CORVINA

 
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Corvina is an Italian wine grape variety that is mainly grown in the Veneto region. It is sometimes also referred to as Corvina Veronese or Cruina, Croina.

Corvina is used with several other grapes to create the light red regional wines Bardolino and Valpolicella that have a mild fruity flavour with hints of almond. These blends include Rondinella, Molinara. It is also used for the production of Amarone and Recioto. In Valpolicella, Corvina generally makes up to 70% of the blend.

WINE REGIONS

Original red grape of Valpolicella. It is spread throughout the surroundings of Verona, but is also present in the area of Lake Garda in Lombardy. It has many small subs, but it is not to be confused with the Corvinone.

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RONDINELLA

 
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HISTORY

Rondinella is an Italian wine grape mainly grown in the Veneto region of Italy and used in wines such as Valpolicella and Bardolino. It is often blended with Corvina, whom DNA evidence has shown is a parent variety, and Molinara. The vine is very resistant to grape disease and produces grapes that, while they don't necessarily have high sugar levels, do dry out well for use in the production of straw wines and recioto blends.

WINE REGIONS

Veneto.

The variety is very rustic, generous and adapted for soils having a high content of clay and which are not well exposed. The basal buds are of medium fertility. The bunches are of medium dimension and have a cylindrical shape. It is perfectly adapted for withering, especially from vines that have been grown in the hills in meager soil. The wines that come from this variety have an intense ruby red colour, with a gentle aroma, they are fruity and are not-too tannic.

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MOLINARA

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HISTORY

 

Molinara is a red grape variety grown in the lowlands of Verona. It is used to add acidity to the blends Valpolicella and Bardolino made with Corvina and Rondinella.

WINE REGIONS

Veneto: Bardolino Superiore, Bardolino, Valpolicella

Its leaf is medium to large, slightly elongated, three-lobed; medium cluster, elongated pyramidal shaped, with one or two short wings, rather sparse, medium berry, spherical or slightly elongated, purplish-red skin, firm and thick. Well suited to hilly terrain, well exposed and ventilated, is bred with a pergola Veronese. Cannot bear botrytis and sour rot, but resists mildew and downy mildew.

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NEBBIOLO

 
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Nebbiolo is a red Italian wine grape variety predominately associated with the Piedmont region where it makes the Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) wines of Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara and Ghemme. Nebbiolo is thought to derive its name from the Piedmontese word nebbia which means "fog." During harvest, which generally takes place late in October, a deep, intense fog sets into the Langhe region where many Nebbiolo vineyards are located. Alternative explanations refers to the fog-like milky veil that forms over the berries as they reach maturity or that perhaps the name is derived instead from the Italian word nobile, meaning noble. Nebbiolo produces lightly coloured red wines can be highly tannic in youth with scents of tar and roses. As they age, the wines take on a characteristic brick-orange hue at the rim of the glass and mature to reveal other aromas and flavors such as violets, tar, wild herbs, cherries, raspberries, truffles, tobacco, and prunes. Nebbiolo wines can require years of aging to balance the tannins with other characteristics.

HISTORY

It is believed that Nebbiolo is indigenous to the Piedmont region though some DNA evidence suggest that it may have originated in Lombardy. In the 1st century AD, Pliny the Elder noted the exceptional quality of the wine produced in Pollenzo region located northwest of what is now the Barolo DOCG zone.

The grape first captured attention outside of Piedmont in the 18th century, when the British were looking for alternative wine sources to Bordeaux due to prolong political conflicts with the French. However the lack of easy transport from Piedmont to London would keep the Piedmontese wine from having the enduring relationship with British connoisseurship that is associated with Bordeaux, Port and Sherry. Nonetheless, plantings of Nebbiolo continued to growing during the 19th century until the phylloxera epidemic hit. With vast swaths of vineyards devastated by the louse, some vineyard owners decided to replant with different grape varieties with Barbera being a significant beneficiary. Today, Nebbiolo covers less than 6% of Piedmont vineyards.

WINE REGIONS

Nebbiolo is found predominately in the northwest Italian region of Piedmont where it forms the base of many of the regions most well known Denominazione di origine controllata (DOC) and DOCG wines including Barolo, Barbaresco, Gattinara, Ghemme and Nebbiolo d'Alba. Despite the prestige and acclaim of Nebbiolo based wine, it is far from being the most widely grown grape in Piedmont. In 2000, there were just under 12,700 acres (5,000 hectares) of Nebbiolo producing 125,000 hectoliters of wine which accounted for a little over 3% of Piedmont's entire production. In contrast, there is nearly 15 times as much Barbera planted in the region. Outside of Piedmont, it is found in the neighboring regions of the Val d'Aosta region of Donnaz and Valtellina and Franciacorta in Lombardy.

BAROLO & BARBARESCO

The Piedmont region is considered the viticultural home of Nebbiolo and it is where the grape's most notable wines are made. The consistent continental climate of the region, coupled with the influences of Tanaro river produces a unique terroir for Nebbiolo that is not easily replicated in other parts of the world. The two most well known Nebbiolo based wines are the DOCG wines of the Barolo & Barbaresco zones near Alba. Barbaresco is considered the lighter of the two and has less stringent DOCG regulations, with the normale bottlings requiring only 9 months in oak and 21 months of total aging and the reserva bottlings requiring 45 total months of aging. In contrast the Barolo DOCG requires 1 year in oak and 3 years total aging for normale bottlings and 57 months total aging for riserva. The minimum alcohol levels for the two region vary slightly with Barbaresco requiring a minimum of 12.5% and Barolo 13%. (However, Barolo, as of 1999, now only requires a minimum of 12.5% as well)
 The Barolo zone is three times the size of the Barbaresco zone with the different communes producing Nebbiolo based wines with noticeable distinctions among them

VITICULTURE AND WINEMAKING

Compared to the annual growth cycle of other Piedmontese grape varieties, Nebbiolo is one of the first varieties to bud and last variety to ripen with harvest taking place in mid to late October. In some vintages, producers are able to pick and complete fermentation of their Barbera and Dolcetto plantings before Nebbiolo is even harvested. To aid in ripening, producers will often plant Nebbiolo in the most favoured sites on south and south-western facing slopes, which give the grape more access to direct sunlight. The most ideal location is at an elevation between 150 and 300 meters and must provide some natural shelter from wind.

BLENDING

In the Piedmont region, there is a long history of blending other grape varieties with Nebbiolo in order to add color and/or soften the grape's harsh tannins.

Wines made from Nebbiolo are characterized by their ample amounts of acidity and tannin. Most examples are wines built for aging and some of the highest quality vintages need significant age (at least a decade or more) before they are palatable to many wine drinkers and can continue to improve in the bottle for upward of 30 years. As Nebbiolo ages, the bouquet becomes more complex and appealing with aromas of tar and roses being the two most common notes. Other aromas associated with Nebbiolo include dried fruit, damsons, leather, licorice, mulberries, spice as well dried and fresh herbs. While Barolo & Barbaresco tend to be the heaviest and most in need of aging, wines made in the modernist style are becoming more approachable at a young age.

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