Italy

Appellations

Barolo is the greatest, most intense and expressive display of the Northern Italian grape variety Nebbiolo. The name is given to bottles from the Piedmont area, made exclusively from Nebbiolo, and coming from the five core towns of Barolo, La Morra, Serralunga d'Alba, Castiglione Falletto and Monforte d'Alba, along with certain other peripherary villages. The wines offer power, aromatics and longevity that is almost unmatched elsewhere in Italy, perhaps the world. Top, forward thinking producers have pushed huge changes in the winemaking culture of the area, and as a result finer, purer Barolo is being produced than ever before.
Basilicata, in southern Italy, is a region that is home to just four DOCs. Winemaking here dates back over a thousand years and whilst it may not be a particularly affluent region, it is rich in natural beauty. Its 3861 square miles (10,000 square km) of land is bordered to the north by Campania and Puglia and to the south by Calabria. Predominantly landlocked, with the Ionian Sea on one side and the Tyrrhenian Sea on the other, it features stunning mountain ranges and breathtaking rolling hills.
One of the many Tuscan sub-regions to be causing quite a stir in it's own right, Bolgheri is perhaps the most widely lauded area for Italian wine production outside of Barolo. Home to top quality names like Sassicaia, Ornellaia and Masseto this little village has built a reputation all it's own.
An important Tuscan DOCG known for the production of intensely powerful red wines made from the Brunello clone of Sangiovese which reaches levels of richness and structure not found elsewhere in Tuscany. The climate is arid and warm though cooled by a maritime breeze from the south west. The zone is essentialy split into two: a warmer southern region that producers earlier drinking, fuller wines, and the Northern, higher altitude zone on Galestro soils that produces more aromatic, finer examples. Brunello di Montalcino wines are released four years after the harvest, following extended ageing in cask, normally around three years. Rosso di Montalcino is the younger stablemate of Brunello; always 100% Sangiovese but bottled and released after only one year of ageing. Rossos are usually lighter and more approachable young than the famously long lived Brunellos.
Campania, the shin of Italy’s boot, is very much a symbol of tradition, hearty countryside and classical wines. In fact, the quality potential here was always well known, but for many years the region produced middling wines, of a somewhat rustic character. The 1990s saw a revival in its fortunes however, as more conscientious producers took note of their local landscape, punctuated as it is by vertiginous hilly-mountains. Altitude would be the key in alleviating soaring summer temperatures and capturing beautiful aromatics. So it was then, that mediocre vineyards were pulled up and replanted at ever-higher levels. Plantings on volcanic, rocky soils increased and became some of the highest in all of Italy. Nowadays, red grapes at 400m are commonplace, and whites can be even higher; marrying warm daytime temperatures, cooling winds and day/night swings that keep acidities lively. The benchmark white varieties include Falanghina, Fiano and Greco di Tufo, while for the reds Aglianico is the star. Two key wine producing areas are Taurasi DOCG; the source of exceptional Aglianico, and Taburno – a diverse region producing many of Campania’s key varieties. Cantina del Taburno is a particularly reliable co-operative. We are also thrilled to work with Quintodecimo, the estate owned by Luigi Moio - a consultant and Italian winemaking expert from an historic Campanian family. Given the opportunity to go it alone in 2001, he hasn’t looked back, and the wines coming out of this estate are some of the most exciting we have tasted.
Carmignano DOCG sits to the North of Chianti in Tuscany, but at lower altitude, thus allowing the Sangiovese grown there to ripen properly. It is the only Tuscan DOCG to require the inclusion of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend, and the wines grown here are generally richer, of lower acidity and with firmer tannins that those of neighbouring Chianti.
Chianti Classico is a DOCG protected appelation in Tuscany, central Italy. The more generic Chianti DOCG covers a large area of vineyard and has a somewhat tumultuous history with quality proving inconsistent and hard to regulate over a wide area. While many great wines can be found here, Chianti Classico was established to demarcate the original Chianti zone, dating back to 1716, and which it is believed offers the ideal growing conditions for Sangiovese. In order for the wines to qualify as the superior Classico, they are also tasted and assessed by the local Consorzio and those wines not up to scratch are designated as straight Chianti. The most elegant wines tend to come from higher altitude sites around villages such as Radda and Castellina.
The reputation of Chilean wine has improved considerably over the last decade. Indeed, while the majority of production is centred around red, varietally labelled wines that offer great value for everyday drinking, there is an ever-growing number of serious, quality focused winemakers who are making use of exceptional terroirs that have often been described akin to wine-growing paradise.
Friuli, in the north-easternmost region of Italy, bordering Austria and Slovenia is famed for its dry crisp fruity whites.
The region produces Merlot-dominated wines which can offer great value similar in style to the wines of Pomerol but with less concentration. The soils are gravely and well-drained.
Liguria is located in the northwest of Italy along the Italian Riviera. It is bordered by the Piedmont wine region to the north, Provence to the west, the Apennine Mountains and the Emilia-Romagna wine region to the east with a small border shared with Tuscany in the south-east along the Ligurian sea.
Macon is an important commercial hub on the river Saône and capital of the Mâconnais wine district of Burgundy, where large quantities of white wine is produced. There is some red wine produced but this is dwarfed by the vast quantities of white wine made and it is rarely seen on export. The Mâconnais does not have an uninterrupted escarpment like that of the Côte d'Or, rather vineyards are planted on rolling limestone/clay hills, amongst other livestock and arable farming. The appellation is as popular as ever, thanks to its ability to produce good, affordable and very approachable examples of White Burgundy. There are now a number of high-quality growers in the region, not least Dominique Lafon who sees enormous potential here. The wines can be from the simple and refreshing, to complex buttery and mineral, whilst not hitting the heights of those from the Côte de Beaune, they can offer excellent quality for the money you pay. Though no more than an hour south of the Côte de Beaune, the climate is warmer here to a significant enough degree to make harvests a good 10 days earlier and the style of wine producer rounder and more buttery. The basic appellation is Mâcon, then up a level is Mâcon-Villages or Mâcon followed by a particular village name such as Milly, Uchizy, Lugny etc .. ;other Appellation Contôlées that can be of extremely high quality are St-Véran; Pouilly-Vinzelles, Pouilly-Loché, and Pouilly-Fuissé.
Piedmont sitting at the foot of the mountains is justly regarded as one of, if not the finest wine growing region in Italy. The noblest grape found in the region in undoubtedly Nebbiolo, with the DOCG's of Barolo and Barbaresco at the forefront of production. Barbera and Dolcetto come in second and third, and being earlier ripening are often found located on those sides of the hills that receive less sunshine. The wines from Piedmont are intrinsically food friendly wines, a fact understandable given the culinary strength of the area.
Puglia is located on the backside of the heel of Italy's “boot” that extends into the ocean. It is notable for it production of Primitivo which is the Italian name for Zinfandel.
A village in the Côte de Beaune between Chassagne and Meursault producing very fine white wine and small amounts of less interesting red. Within the Puligny commune are two Grand Cru vineyards in their entirety, Chevalier-Montrachet and Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet, and two which are shared with neighbouring Chassagne: Le Montrachet itself and Bâtard-Montrachet. In addition there are a number of excellent Premier Cru vineyards that are also capable of making some of Burgundy's finest white wines - at the same elevation as Bâtard-Montrachet lie Les Pucelles and Les Combettes, which is adjacent to Meursault-Perrières. A little higher up the slope, at the same elevation as Le Montrachet, lie Les Demoiselles, Le Cailleret, Les Folatières (including Clos de la Garenne), and Champ Canet. Part of Les Demoiselles is classified as Grand Cru Chevalier-Montrachet but a very small slice remains as premier cru, being regarded, along with Le Cailleret, as the finest Puligny Premier Cru vineyard. Further up the slope, where the terrain becomes stonier are Le Champ Gain, La Truffière, Chalumeaux, and the vineyards attached to the hamlet of blagny, which are designated as Puligny-Montrachet premier cru for white wines, and Blagny premier cru for reds.

A characteristic of the Puligny-Montrachet commune is the high water table, this means there are few individual village vineyards worthy of note, the best village wines will usually be a result of a blend. This also means that the cellars are rarely that deep. The wines of Puligny have a very distinctive style, very fine, taut and typically mineral, much less fat and rich than a Meursault and more elegance than a Chassagne. The top Puligny Domaines are Sauzet, Leflaive and Carillon.
Even after discounting the big names - Bordeaux, Burgundy etc - France is still full of excellent quality winemakers who are doing great things now and are simultaneously showing bags of potential. Areas like Côtes de Roussillon and the Languedoc have been producing highly-drinkable, thoroughly enjoyable wines for a very long time.
In the baking Sicilian sun respite is found from the heat at alitude. On the sundrenched volcanic slopes of Mount Etna heat is mitigated by elevated vineyard sites that provide refreshing air currents and positively cool nights. A relatively new region in terms of high quality production, producers such as Tenuta delle Terre Nere are proving what can be achieved with Burgundian treatment of grapes such as Nerello Mascalese. These are wines that need to be tasted to be believed offering the aromatic qualities of Pinot Noir alongside some of the backbone of Nebbiolo.
Terlan or Terlano is a comune in South Tyrol in northern Italy most famous for its wine and asparagus production. Interestingly, 83.61% of the population speak German as first language.
Tuscany (or Toscana) is a large region made up of many significant smaller areas that are known across the world for the level of quality that they produce. Brunello di Montalcino, Bolgheri and Chianti can both be found here as well as the infamous "Super Tuscans".
Umbria is one of the smaller Italian wine making regions, with an annual production a mere third of neighbouring Tuscany. Orvieto is the major DOC for whites, and yet throughout the region a huge variety of red and white wines are produced from a number of different grape varieties.
Now the largest wine-producing region in Italy, Veneto sits in the north-east of Italy stretching westward to Lake Garda and north to the Austrian border. Soave and Valpolicella are the regions two most important zones, but drastic enlargments of existing DOCs means that quality is not always assurred. Look for quality conscious growers such as Gini who use the single varietal Garganega rather than the other, permitted but somewhat neutral varieties.
Victoria is generally cooler than neighbouring South Australia. With the exception of the more inland Rutherglen, perhaps the Victoria's most famous wine, all the other regions have a distinctly maritime feel. The most significant wine regions within Victoria are Rutherglen, Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Geelong. All styles of wine are produced here, from fortfied wines to crisp, zippy whites, and everything in between.