Red Italy Abruzzo Campania Puglia Sicily End Bin Wines
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' – the land of wines – 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.
Situated on the east coast of central Italy, between the mountains and the sea, Abruzzo is a wine region which has the best of all possible worlds. Beautiful and varied terroir, with blazing sunshine and cooling breezes blowing off the Adriatic, history and modernity, and an independent spirit supported by generations of tradition and expertise. This is a wine region with a serious past, stretching back to the very origins of wine production in Europe - the Etruscans were the first to cultivate vines here, and the Romans lent their industrious and forward-thinking minds to viticulture in Abruzzo, something which is still felt today if you wander among the villages and vineyards.
Abruzzo has over 90,000 acres of land dedicated to wine production and grape-growing, and is the fifth most productive wine region in Italy. The majority of viticultural activity takes place in the hillier regions, where the microclimates are ideal for the historic vineyards, particularly around the sub-region of Chieti, which produces plenty of sunny and characterful wines ranging from Pinot Grigio to Sangiovese and crowd-pleasing Merlots. The climatic conditions of Abruzzo are particularly favorable, with this region seeing a fine balance of rainfall and sunshine, allowing for a long and bountiful ripening season which sees the grapes reach full ripeness and provides plenty of expression of terroir.
Abruzzo has one DOCG, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colline Teramane, where we find beautiful blended red wines made from Montepulciano and Sangiovese varietals. It also has three DOC regions, based around these red grapes as well as white varietals such as Trebbiano.
The beautiful region of Campania, located in the 'shin' of Italy's boot, has been an important center for viticulture and wine making for thousands of years. Indeed, archaeologists believe that wine making was happening in Campania as long ago as 1,200 BCE, making this one of the oldest wine regions on earth. By the time the Roman Empire starting expanding, Campania became the world's most important wine producing region, and the hundred or so native grape varietals which flourish in the mineral rich soils near the coast became the key ingredient in many of Rome's legendary classical wines. Today, the wine industry in Campania is booming once more, following a drop in the region's reputation in the 1970s, and is gaining awards, recognition and new fans each year.
The southern Italian region of Puglia, known as the 'heel' of the country, is home to Italy's most up and coming wineries, keen to demonstrate to the world that the poor reputation they had in the seventies and eighties no longer applies. The wines of Puglia are certainly full of character, often big, bright and juicy, and full of strong dark fruit flavours. The Puglian wines are also renowned for being slightly more alcoholic and structured than those found further north, giving wine drinkers plenty to experience and discuss when sampling the region's complex and fascinating wares. Puglia is, in essence, a region of deep traditions, and the wine makers there are determined to stick to their traditional techniques and methods, and keep the unique identity of Puglian wine alive in the twenty first century.
The beautiful island of Sicily has been growing grapevines and producing wines for thousands of years, ever since the ancient Greeks first landed on its golden shores and noticed the island's true potential as a haven for quality grapes. Today, the island is one of Italy's primary wine regions, and even though over eighty percent of Sicily's grapevines are used for the production of sweet fortified wines, the remaining wineries making other wine styles are renowned around the world for their quality and character. Indeed, Sicilian wineries are famed for their ability to capture something of the sun-drenched region in their wines, and the vines they cultivate benefit enormously from the almost constant sunshine and the incredibly fertile volcanic soils which typify the island.
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