Italian Red Wines
Vineyards are found in every area of Italy. Indeed, there are as many as 403 official wine regions in the country including Tuscany, Piedmont, Veneto and Sicily. Hundreds of grape varieties are grown and the diverse wines are attracting more attention than ever due to a dramatic increase in quality during the latter half of the 20th century.
You could spend a lifetime and more drinking your way around Italy and we would require a lengthy book to explain all of your amazing choices. Here, we can only highlight the principle regions and grape varieties to help you to find the delicious Italian wine which pleases your palate, suits your menu and befits your occasion.
Possibly the most famous and adored region of the country, Tuscany boasts the hills of Chianti where Sangiovese grapes deliver earthy red wines which have been enjoyed since the Renaissance. Montalcino is the home of Brunello, a complex and full-bodied red wine which boasts notes of red fruit, tobacco and cedar.
In the 1970s, rebellious wine makers began blending international grape varieties with Italy's indigenous grapes. The resulting "Super Tuscan" wines initiated something of a revolution. A new designation was created -Indicazione Geografica Tipica. This now encompasses over 100 wines. Browse our range of Tuscan red wines.
A number of impressive red wines are produced in Piedmont which is situated in northwest Italy. Barolo is from the village of the same name and compares favourable to Tuscany's Brunello. Made from Nebbiolo grapes, this wine is renowned for its light colour, high tannin and notes of sour cherry, rose petals and tar. Other popular wines from the region include Dolcetto with its silky-smooth texture and fruity flavour and Barbara, which is comparable to Cabernet Sauvignon. Browse our range of Piedmont red wines.
Perhaps better known for its white wines including Pino Grigio, the Veneto region also boasts impressive red wines. Valpolicella Classico, Valpolicella Ripasso, and Amarone della Valpolicella are all made from a blend of indigenous grapes. Amarone is notable for being produced from from grapes which are dried first to deliver a richer wine. If you enjoy New World wines, you will appreciate the fruity, medium-rich Valpolicella reds. Browse our range of Veneto red wines.
The diverse microclimates of Sicily facilitate the cultivation of several native grape varieties. Cappuccio grapes are grown on the fertile slopes of Etna and produce bold, dark wines. Nerello Mascalese grapes deliver pinot noir-like reds. Cerasuolo di Vittoria is a DOCG wine (designated of superior quality) which is crafted from a blend of native Nero D'Avola and Frappato grapes. This full-bodied wine features distinctive notes of cherries and berry fruits. Browse our range of Sicilian red wines.
Italian native grape varieties
Your exploration of Italian wine will be a diverse and fascinating adventure. If we highlighted every grape, you would spend all of your time reading and none of it drinking! Here are the principle varieties that you will encounter:
A robust grape, high in acidity and notable for its tannins, Barbera is the grape which distinguishes many of the fine wines produced in Piedmont. With its bright fruity notes and woody aroma, Barbera creates wines which are the perfect partners for richer Italian dishes. Choose Barbera d'Asti to experience a classic wine of the region or Barbera d'Alba for a richer, velvety feel.
The king of Italian red grapes, Nebbiolo is named for the fog which cloaks northern slopes in late Autumn. References to this grape date back centuries and it produces complex and dynamic wines which benefit from aging. You will enjoy the fruity flavours and spicy aromas here. For powerful, full-bodied wines choose Barolo. For elegance choose Barbaresco.
Grown in Umbria for centuries, Sagratino is thick-skinned grape which was originally dried and then used to make sweet wines. Dry wines came to the fore in the 20th century and continue to impress. You will appreciate the cherry and blackberry notes together with the smoky spices of Montefalco Sagrantino while Motefalco Rosso is an equally delicious but more subtle choice.
Once thought to be of Greek Origin, Aglianico is grown in Campania and Basilicata. It is now believed to have originated in Italy and could have been cultivated as early as Roman times. The complex wines age well and feature dark fruity flavours with savoury highlights and noticeable acidity.
The second most common grape in Sicily, Nero d'Avola produces medium acidity, sweet tannins and plum or peppery flavours. In the 20th century, the grape featured principally in blends but the 21st century saw the arrival of complex varietal wines which have garnered huge popularity.
Grown throughout central Italy including Romagna, Lazio and Tuscany, the Sangiovese grape is thought to have been cultivated since Roman times. Its name rather brilliantly means blood of Jupiter. It is the principle grape of the blends Chianti, Carmignano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Morellino di Scansano. Varietal wines include Sangiovese di Romagna. Notable for high acidity and moderate to high tannin content, Sangiovese grapes offer cherry, tea and violet flavours.