How do you give a quick guide to a country with more than 300 DOC wines, 100 IGT wines and comfortably over 1,000 vine varieties? Space permits us only the very briefest introduction to a country whose uniquely diverse wines so aptly capture the charm and spirit of its people.
DOCG wines are top of the quality tree: the super Bs of Barolo, Barbaresco and Brunello, plus Amarone and Chianti Classico. But there are many lesser-known gems too: try IGT wines from the same varieties for a wallet-friendly take on Italy’s big guns.
The diversity of Italy’s wines is largely down to geography. Grapes are grown from the Alps right down to Sicily, while the Mediterranean climate gives rise to many styles and possibilities.
There’s more to Italian white wine than Pinot Grigio. To get away from the vinous crowd, look out for Italy’s rising stars Fiano, Greco, Pecorino and Falanghina.
The Italians are masters of reinvention. Take Chianti and Soave: two classics that have been transformed from their hitherto cheap-and-cheerful images by a wave of quality focused winemakers bringing the latest thinking to the vineyard and winery.
KNOW YOUR TERMS
IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica)
Classification based on region of origin rather than wine style, giving winemakers room to experiment with varieties and blends, while offering consumers quality assurance.
DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata)
Quality assurance label for Italian wines made in a specific region using defined grape varieties and production methods.
DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita)
Premium DOC wines bottled in the region of production and approved by a Ministry of Agriculture tasting.