As the first country in the world for wine production, Italy can boast an extensive variety of regional wines: more than 400 designations of origin (DOP, IGP and DOCG) produced in the many wineries scattered throughout the country. This incredible variety is also shown in the numerous indigenous grapevines which contribute to making Italian wines unique in the world. Harvest time is absolutely the best time of the year to discover Italy’s rich wine tradition! Here, we list some of the best Italian wines categorised by destination: fall in love with the charm of grape harvest and set off on a journey to discover enchanting lands while sipping a good wine and cycling!
The Dolomites and Trentino
Trentino is renowned for its excellent red, white and sparkling wines. Teroldego and Marzemino are two indigenous grapevines used to make two red wines which are a speciality of this part of Italy. The Müller Thurgau and the Gewürztraminer are instead two great white wines of Trentino. And if you love sparkling wines, we recommend trying a glass of Trento DOC, a very high quality sparkling wine produced according to the traditional method. This method involves a process known as riddling where the bottles are periodically rotated while resting on typical wooden racks. They say that the Trento DOC 51.151 is especially good and the producer is no other than Francesco Moser!
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Rome and the Apennines
The area of Fiuggi offers you the opportunity to discover Piglio, the town where the famous Cesanese wine is made – the only red wine from Lazio with a Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin (DOCG). Produced only with indigenous Cesanese grapes, this red wine exalts the characteristics of the land where it is made: soft and ruby red just like the clayey and ferrous soil of this area. And if instead you prefer white wines, you really need to try the Frascati Superiore DOCG, one of the most iconic wines of this region.
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Monferrato, Langhe and Roero are some of the most renowned areas in the world for their production of fine wines: as many as 9 varieties of DOCG wines are produced just in this region. A variety that stands out from the rest is certainly the Nebbiolo, a fine indigenous grapevine suitable for ageing. It is used to produce the Nebbiolo red wine, but also the famous Barbaresco DOCG and the Barolo DOCG in the Langhe area, and the Gattinara DOCG in the province of Vercelli. It is also important to mention the Barbera of Alba and Asti and the Dolcetto with its variants, Dogliani, Ovada and Alba, as well as some fine white wines of Roero, the Arneis among all. Prefer bubbles? There is also a wide choice of great sparkling wines such as the Asti or the fine Alta Langa DOCG.
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Liguria & Finale
This region nestled between the sea and the mountains is home to many luxuriant vineyards. In the country of Imperia, not far from Sanremo, you will find the grapevine of Rossese di Dolceacqua which is used to produce the famous DOC red wine of the same name – the most famous wine of this region. Among the white ones, we suggest the Pigato, the ideal accompaniment for traditional Ligurian fish dishes or pesto. Real wine connoisseurs need to try the Pornassio, also known as Omeasco di Pornasio, a DOC red wine produced in the hills north of Imperia.
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Located at the extreme tip of the heel of the Italian boot, Apulia boasts a great winemaking tradition with four great wines with a Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin (DOCG). Let’s start with the most famous wine: the Primitivo di Manduria, a DOCG red produced in the Taranto area. Talking about the red wines, we need to mention the Nero di Troia, an indigenous grapevine used to produce the Castel del Monte Rosso (also in the Riserva variant). We also suggest another red wine, the Bombino, in the Castel di Monte Bombino Nero variant.
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Exploring the hills in inland Romagna, you will have the opportunity to discover expanses of vineyards for as far as the eye can see, centuries-old grapevines which are used to produce some of the finest wines of the winemaking tradition of this area. One of the must-see places is Bertinoro, a village in the province of Forlì-Cesena: it is known as the Balcony of Romagna and is the symbol of Romagna for the production of wine. Besides the famous Sangiovese of Romagna, here you can try unique local wines such as the Albana and the Pagadebit (It pays the debts). According to tradition, the original name of this wine derives from an ancient vine which is particularly resistant and gives good production even in less favourable vintages. Through the sale of the wine produced from these grapes, the farmers were able to pay their bills for the entire wine-making season; debts which derived from oral agreements.
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Renowned for its excellent products, Lake Garda is a paradise for wine lovers. The most important wine-growing areas are certainly the shores of Verona and the Lower Garda where several traditional wines of Garda are produced such as the Custoza (white), the Lugana (white) and the Valpolicella DOC (red). Another “classic” wine of Lake Garda is Bardolino. Most appreciated for its light flavour, this wine is produced in the towns of Affi, Bardolino, Cavaion Veronese, Costermano, Garda and Lazise.
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Apennines – Abruzzo
Montepulciano (red), Cerasuolo (rosé) and Trebbiano (white) are certainly the three most famous DOC wines of Abruzzo, but there is a lot to discover in the whole region, including many lesser known but still delicious wines. So, you might have the opportunity to drink a good white wine such as Terre Tollesi DOCG in its variants of Pecorina and Passerina, ideal with traditional Abruzzo fish dishes.
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Thanks to the unique beauty of the hills of Tuscany, the best promotion in this region and a well-established export market, Tuscan wines are amongst the most appreciated wines in the world. The most famous Tuscan DOCG wines are the Chianti Classico (made from at least 80% of Sangiovese grapes) and the Brunello di Montalcino (100% Sangiovese), but it is also important to mention the Vernaccia di San Gimignano as a white wine. If your budget allows it, we recommend trying the Super Tuscans such as the Sassicaia or the Ornellaia, wines which have become a symbol of luxury all around the world. These wines are produced without following a special set of regulations (like in the case of DOCG wines) using Sangiovese grapes and international grapevines, for example the Cabernet Sauvignon, aged in barrels.
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When you think of Veneto, you think of Prosecco. Among the many variants of Prosecco, we recommend the DOCG wine Colli Asolani, a variant produced in the hills of Asolo in the province of Treviso – recently included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Prosecco is known all over the world, not just as a sparkling wine but an “all-meal” wine, suitable for any type of dish from aperitif to an-after dinner drink. It is available in numerous variants, but only two have the DOCG certification: the Prosecco of Colli Asolani and that of Conegliano-Valdobbiadene.
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