Italian Wine


Oh where to begin! There have been countless tomes written about this glorious country, every square inch a storied vineyard. We will do our best to synopsize:

Regions: We have tried to hit the primary growing regions starting in the northwest with Piedmont and going clockwise.

  1. Piedmont: The "foothills" of Piedmont are nestled 'neath the Alps. This is the region where Nebbiolo shines, particularly in Barolo and Barbaresco. Robust, inky Dolcetto (don't let the "sweet, little" moniker fool you), juicy Barberas, candied Moscatos, complex Gavis and floral Arneis also thrive here.
  2. Lombardy: France has Champagne, and Italy has Franciacorta, the only truly methode traditionelle wine in the country.
  3. Trentino-Sud Tyrol: OK, ya got us - not technically a super renowned growing region, but one which we are partial to, owing to their lean, elegant, mineral driven style. Some grapes that you might have never heard of, but which you should check out: Muller-Thurgau and Kerner for whites, Lagrein and Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir to you and me) for the reds. Apparently Dolomites can rock the wine! (the Mountains not the 1970s Blaxploitation film)
  4. Friuli-Venezia Giulia: One of the finest areas for international and indiginous varieties, Bordelaise varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, play alonside Schiopetino and Refosco; Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc pal around with Friulano and Ribolla Gialla.
  5. Emilia-Romagna: Although known more as the bread basket of Italy rather than a fine region, Emilia-Romagna's gift to the world is Lambrusco, a sparkling red which is rich, berried, herbal and superb with salumi and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
  6. Veneto: Homeland of Prosecco (and the brunchtacular Bellini cocktail), seafood worthy red Bardolino, the stupendously diverse red Valpolicella and Amarone blends and the underrated white Soave.
  7. Marche: Worth mentioning only because we love Verdicchio. And you should too: this mineral rich, high acidity crazy funky herbal white. Plus, one of the primary appelations, Verdicchio di Matellica is named after my favorite '80s band....Just kidding.
  8. Abruzzi: Home of one of our favorite value reds on the planet, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. Even when it is mediocre, these wines are juicy, bright, earthy and super food friendly. Most bottles hover aorund $10, and the wines that are priced northward are usually extraordinary.
  9. Puglia: Home of a few more killer value reds: Negroamaro and Primitivo.
  10. Sicily: Although Cataratto, Nerello Mascalese and Nero d'Avola, make some delicious table wines, the most respected gem of this beautiful island is Marsala. Yes, you heard us, Marsala! Far from that gnarly cooking wine, these gorgeous fortifiefs range from dry to sweet and are definitely worth exploring
  11. Umbria: Known more for it's food than it's wine, Unmbria is home to one blockbuster red: Sagrantino di Montefalco. Sagrantino is the grape; Montefalco is the sub region, and the result is big bold and tannic. Not for the faint of heart and most likely not to be consumed on its own. Fire up a steak, a roaring fire and a bottle of that bad boy and you can call it a night.
  12. Tuscany: Sangiovese is one of Italy's most planted red varieties, but we see at its finest in Tuscany: Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and Morellino di Scansano are all sub regions that produce, gloriously expresisove Sangioveses.
  13. Liguria: One word, Cinqueterre. For us, this Vermentino based wine is synymous with Fritto Misto, deep fried seafood. Fresh, bright and a gorgeous acidity make this kick ass fish fry wine.
Arneis: Floral, full and bold, with that beautiful tell tale Italian acidity. Aglianico: Big, bold and full of tannin, this is fabulous meat wine. Although the regions from which is hails (Basilicata and Campagnia), did not make the cut on this page. the wines are certainly worth seeking out.
Cortese: The base grape in Gavi, the finest white of Piedmont. This is not wine for beginners or for the faint of heart: bracing acidity, bitter almond skin, wildflowers and a touch of grapfruit. Complex, elegant and lovely. Barbera: The lone easy drinking stalwart in the otherwise challenging region of the Piedmont. The best Barberas hail from Alba, where it is expressively fleshy, or Asti, where is leaner and more mineral driven. They are consistently juicy, fresh and delicious!
Falanghina: This southern Italian gem is full and fleshy, brimming with golden stone fruit (peaches and pears), with just enough acidity to stand up. Dolcetto: Dolcetto means sweet little one in italian, a stark contrast to the challenging austerity of Piedmonts Barolos and Barbarescos. The quality of the fruit might be sweet, but the tannin is still high - consider yourself warned.
Friulano: Another fleshy full bodied white, underscored by a high acidity, which is at its best when it hails from the Collios of Friuli. Only recently is was known as Tocai Friulano, but it underwent a name change in 2007 to avoid confusion with Hungarian Tokaj. Lagrein: Rich, herbal and a tremendous value for wine geeks. High in acidity and tannin, this is another wine that ought to be consumed with food, preferably red meat.
Garganega: The basis of the Venetos's aptly named Soave - these wines are nothing if not smooth. Nebbiolo: The basis for the most prestigiious wines of the Piedmont, Barolo (aka King of Wine and the Wine of Kings) and Barbaresco, as well as the lesser known appelations of the Langhe and Lombardy's Valtellina. The hallmarks of this variety are high acidity, astringent tannins, an almost orange color, and aromas of road tar and roses.
Muscato: Although better known as Muscat throughout the rest of Europe, this grape makes some gorgeous sweet sparklers in Asti, and some gorgeously aromatic dry wines as well in Alto Adige. Negroamaro: The name of this variety means black and bitter, but the wines it producers are flush with dark fruit and herbal complexity. 
Pinot Bianco: (AKA Pinot Blanc) This variety always gets overlooked in favor of its more well known siblings: Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio. Delicate citrus fruit, floral notes and hazelnut make for a routinely gorgeous white. Nero d'Avola: Siciliy's best known red variety makes some gorgeous smokey, fleshy wines.
Pinot Grigio: Easy drinking and ubiquitous even at its most mediocre, and sublimely complex at its best, Pinot Grigio needs no introduction. Primitivo: The biological cousin of Zinfandel and the family resemblance is striking: loads of brambly black and red berries, a hint of savory pepper spice, smooth tannins and just the perfect amount of acidity.
Prosecco: The basis for the eponymous sparkling wine from the Veneto. The production method for these wines is known as Charmat - a much less labor intensive and therefore much less costly alternative to Champagne. Sangiovese: the basis for the finest wines of tuscany, the hallmarks of Sangiovese are bing cherries, truffles and a super food friendly acidity.
Ribolla Gialla: Complex, funky and herbal, some fo the best examples of wines made from this grape actually hail from Slovenia, but its Italian brethren are definitely worth a shot. Sagrantino: Meaty, rich and tannic, this wine can age for years. Definitely decantable and awesome with red meat.
Verdicchio: Another awesome Pinot Grigio alternative: crisp clean fresh with a piercing acidity, lemons and just a touch of bitter almond oil, make for a delightfully aperitif-y wine.  
Vermentino:Vermentino shines in Liguria and Sardinia, where it makescrisp, clean fresh seafood friendly whites. In also lives in France under the alias Rolle, where it shines in the Provençal whites of Bellet as well as Cotes Du Roussillon white.  
Vernaccia: This aromatic white thrives in the Tuscan town of San Gimignano, home of the powerful Medici family and some gorgeous medieval towers. You will recognize wines from this region, by their representation on the labels of most local producers.