Enotria the La La wine land
Centuries ago Italy was called Enotria or the land of wine for an incredibly great variety of vines and wine producing areas. Italy of today is easily beating its largest competitor France in a battle of wine production championship. Not a surprise this country does have around 1000 different indigenous grape varieties from the heel to the top. Enotrians, “the inhabitants of the territory rich of vineyards” have never been sure how many varieties their land exactly has. But they are truly certain about the ability of Enotria to offer the biggest diversity of wines in the world.
Chianti wine region
Who never has heard of Chianti probably never heard of wines. One of the most traditional and very well-known wine in the world was born in mid-centuries in the very centre of the Italian peninsula in a beautiful and romantic region of Tuscany heavenly painted with waving hills and cypresses. Chianti takes over a vast territory of production in most of Tuscan provinces. However, the historical and more prestigious area, whose borders were defined in 1716, lies between Siena and Florence and is called Chianti Classico. It has stricter production regulations and wines promise better quality. Chianti is a blend where the leading part (from 75 to 100%) takes Tuscan biggest local variety Sangiovese translated as blood of Jove, other grapes are Canaiolo, Colorino, Merlot, Cabernet.
Chianti can vary from simple fruity acid samples born in generic areas to much more interesting and complex wines with a richer bouquet and velvet texture from the sub regions as Chianti Classico, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Sinesi. It will go well with Italian 1st course lasagna, pasta, Tuscan poultry. And finally the hottest of all is Chianti Classico Reserva. Made by one of the best producers it will fascinate you with its power, chocolate and animalistic notes, elegant texture and very good structure. And it will make a fantastic pairing with aged cheese, Tuscan game, and just as a wine to enjoy and meditate.
Not just Chianti
Continuing speaking about Tuscany I must not miss out the wine that I strongly encourage you to try, it is Brunello di Montalcino. It’s one the best expression of Sangiovese grape coming from a medieval town of Montalcino where they call it Brunello. Sangiovese’s sibling here has a brownish colour when ripen, that’s where the name comes from. This gorgeous wine will surely take one of the 1st shelves in a cellar of your dream. It’s elegant and powerful at the same time, has a good ageing potential, will be perfect pairing for game, aged cheese, chocolate. Fruity Rosso di Montalcino, Brunello’s yonger brother, is a more easy-going and available wine, it’s very agreeable, friendly with hints of roses and violets, chocolate and spices. It pairs with lighter meat courses, carpaccio, grilled salmon.
The kingdom of Barolo
In Piedmont region to the south-west from Asti town, in the steep hills of Langhe lies another medieval village of Barolo that gave the name to a legendary Italian wine. The beautiful landscape is often covered with fog ‘nebbia’ in Italian exactly where Barolo grape’s name nebbiolo derives. It gives full bodied, well structured wines, with good tannins, that enjoy ageing both in oak and a bottle. Barolo is a serious wine that likes to show its status. It takes time till the wine is ready to share its secret with you. So make sure it’s over 5 years old before uncorking it. The diversity of terroirs is perfectly expressed in different crus or vineyards. La Morra gives more aromatic Barolo, Monforte and Serralunga wines heavier on the palate. Following Burgundy tradition wine makers tend to produce their wines from a single vineyard as Brunate, La Serra, Monfaletto etc, to make the wine as unique as possible. But the reputation of the winemaker remains the most important factor that guarantees the quality.
Pinot Grigio is very well known as Italian summer wine, related to a French Alsace variety Pinot Gris that has never become that famous as his younger brother. It’s produced in quite big quantities in North East Italy in Friuli, Trentino, Alto Adidge in all possible classifications DOC, IGT, VdT. For such availability Pinot Grigio has spread around the globe rather fast, and it’s loved by many for its easy going character, fruit notes with hints of apples, citrus, apricots and good acidity that makes wine good aperitif and a trustworthy mate for salads and light summer snacks. But I know for a fact that this wine can give more than that. In the hands of a good producer Pinot Grigio can generate mineral and herbal notes, have a good structure, fulfill a fish course, seafood, light creamy cheese. Try a nice bottle from Alto Adidge or Friuli DOC to make sure yourself.
Prosecco – Italian sparkling wine
Who hasn’t tried Prosecco should run immediately to the nearest wine shop and get a bottle, cool it down properly and enjoy one of the most beautiful and fresh aperitif full of exciting hints of apples, pears, and creamy almond paste. Prosecco comes from Veneto region, Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOC. It can be both sparkling and still but the grape Prosecco or Glera, two names of the same variety, naturally sparks that’s why they benefit from producing mainly sparkling version of it. Prosecco’s 2nd fermentation takes place in tanks unlike Champagne method (for more detailed information on difference please see my Complete guide to Sparkling wine article). That’s one of the reason they take Prosecco as light and friendly drink. Venetians are ready to enjoy it not only at apperetivo hours but at daily meals either. Stay with them as they know Dolce Vita!
PS. All wines contain alcohol that is bad to your health
This article was written by Svetlana Kasparova, a wine expert who has been working with wine estates across Europe for over eight years. She is a graduate of the famous wine school “Entoria” and a Wine Games medalist.
Svetlana runs an online course “Become a wine expert in 3 days”, you can learn more about it here: