Italy’s wine regions are dotted throughout the country; each one differing in landscape and climate, giving the wine produced there its unique characteristics. Whether you’re sampling the region’s wine in a local restaurant, or at the source on an Italian vineyard, these are the varieties to look out for in some of Italy’s most prestigious wine regions on a trip with Trafalgar.
Here amidst the mountains of northern Italy, it’s the Nebbiolo grape – a variety that’s rarely seen outside of Piedmont – that winemakers take the most pride in, producing red wines that are high in both tannin and acidity. At Barale Fratelli this wine has been produced for over 150 years by generations of the Barale family, who endeavour to reflect the authenticity of Nebbiolo grapes, and ultimately the wine’s origin, Piedmont. Visit the winery with Trafalgar on the Secrets of Italy trip where you’ll have the chance to pair the wine with the rich meat dishes of northern Italian cuisine. For an alternative, try the Moscato d’Asti at Nico Lavini winery within the Asti wine region. This sweet sparkling wine is made from Moscato bianco grapes, reminiscent of nectarines and blossom and produced across northwest Italy.
With Milan at its heart and the Italian Lakes within its borders, the Lombardy region is undeniably alluring to travellers. Its wine is yet another draw; Valtellina wine region lies within Lombardy – close to the Swiss border – with vineyard covered slopes where wines are primarily made from Chiavennasca grapes (the Valtellina name for Nebbiolo). Around Oltrepo Pavese, meanwhile, it’s the Pinot Noir grape, which in Lombardy is referred to as Pinot Nero, which stands out the most. Another particularly distinctive wine from this region is the rich, dry, Sforzato wine, made from at least 90 per cent Nebbiolo grapes, which are partially dried before being pressed.
Within Veneto, it’s the Valpolicella region that’s found the most enduring fame in viticulture, and where Amarone della Valpolicella – officially classified one of Italy’s top-tier wines – is made. Much like Sforzato, the grapes are dried before the winemaking process begins to concentrate the sugars in the grapes, resulting in a dry, full-bodied red that goes especially well with meats and cheese. Merlot is another good option for red wine drinkers in Veneto, while those who prefer white wine would do well with a local Soave, made from Garganega grapes.
In Tuscany, the Chianti wine region garners the most international attention, with the dominant grape, Sangiovese used to produce red wine, and Trebbiano and Vermentino grapes for white wine. In Montecatini, visitors can try the local varieties at Borgo della Limonaia farmhouse, where both red and white organic wine can be sampled alongside rustic Tuscan fare. On the Italy Bellissimo trip, Trafalgar guests can join a wine tasting experience with the Callistri family, and on the Flavours of Italy trip, guests have the opportunity to visit Fattoria di Petroio within the Chianti hills; here, try a deep red wine made from Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, alongside the winery’s golden Chianti dessert wine.
Amidst the vineyards that lie at the foot of Mount Etna, Azienda Agricola Liperus produces a variety of wines using the indigenous grapes. Here, visitors can walk through the vineyards and step into the wine cellars in the company of Maria Loredana Marano, who runs the estate, to see how the wine is made, before having a wine tasting with the in-house sommelier.
Travel through Italy‘s wine regions and discover the indigenous grape varieties with Trafalgar.
Cover photo © iStock / Anna Omelchenko. The grape harvest © iStock / tomazi. Piedmont vineyards © iStock / treeffe. Wine tasting © iStock / Neyya. Grapes on the vine © iStock / ah_fotobox. Italian vineyards at sunset © iStock / AND-ONE.