The Lambrusco varietal grape has been grown in and around its native region of Emilia, Italy for several thousand years, with archaeological evidence suggesting it was even cultivated by the ancient Etruscans, long before it was a favorite of the Romans. There are actually over sixty different types of Lambrusco grape, however, the most commonly grown varietal is Lambrusco Salamino â€“ the varietal used for the sparkling and slightly sweet strawberry tinted wine which is popular around the world. Although very much an Italian varietal, there are wineries elsewhere in the world which work with this grape, most notably in Australia where it is also used to make a sparkling wine. It can also be used to make a wonderful dry wine, in which the strawberry flavor comes through a little more powerfully, followed by a pleasantly bitter finish.
Tuscany is probably Italy's most important and widely respected wine region, with a history which stretches back almost three thousand years, and a set of fine grape varietals which produce some of the most delicious quality white and red wines in the world. Sangiovese and Vernaccia varietal grapes are grown all over this expansive region, and the way they are handled, aged and processed varies from town to town. The beautiful hot climate of Tuscany helps these grapes reach full ripeness, despite the fact the soil of the region is generally problematic for the vintners who work there. Despite this, there is a dedication to quality and flavor in Tuscany which is more or less unmatched anywhere else in Italy, and a great mix of strong tradition and willingness to experiment and think outside the box which has been a wonderful recipe for success in the region.
There are few countries in the world with a viticultural history as long or as illustrious as that claimed by Italy. Grapes were first being grown and cultivated on Italian soil several thousand years ago by the Greeks and the Pheonicians, who named Italy 'Oenotria' â€“ the land of wines â€“ so impressed were they with the climate and the suitability of the soil for wine production. Of course, it was the rise of the Roman Empire which had the most lasting influence on wine production in Italy, and their influence can still be felt today, as much of the riches of the empire came about through their enthusiasm for producing wines and exporting it to neighbouring countries. Since those times, a vast amount of Italian land has remained primarily for vine cultivation, and thousands of wineries can be found throughout the entire length and breadth of this beautiful country, drenched in Mediterranean sunshine and benefiting from the excellent fertile soils found there. Italy remains very much a 'land of wines', and one could not imagine this country, its landscape and culture, without it.