When we talk about Italian viticulture, we refer to one of the most interesting in the world. Italy boasts in fact a diversified production favoured by a wide variety of wine that grows in different climatic conditions, along the entire peninsula. We find the Alps regions with their harsh winters and strong summer temperature ranges, the pre-alpine and hilly zone with continental climate, the terrain around the lakes and steeper coasts with their Mediterranean climate and sea breezes, which encourage the breeding of the wine, the cultivation of the olive and citrus fruits trees, and then gradually to the South, where heat and drought prevail.
Italian wine production includes 408 (77 DOCG and 331 OCD) and 118 PGI.
Between the mid-19th century and the first decades of the 20th century the action of phylloxera caused the disappearance of many varieties, but recently many historical wines are being rediscovered such as: Nebbiolo and Barbera in Piedmont and Lombardy, Teroldego in Trentino Alto Adige, Pignolo and Picolit in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Raboso and Glera in Veneto, Lambrusco in Emilia and Sangiovese in Romagna and Tuscany, Verdicchio in the Marche, Sagrantino in Umbria, Montepulciano in Abruzzo, Fiano in Campania, Primitivo in Apulia, Aglianico in Basilicata and Campania, Nero d’Avola in Sicily.
In the Italian wine growing landscape there are also international grape varieties, among white berried wines the first is Chardonnay, but also Sauvignon blanc, Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Pinot blanc and gris; Merlot excels in black berried wines, with Sauvignon Cabernet, Cabernet franc, Pinot noir and Syrah.
If you want to dip into the past, Italian wine production is already documented around 2.000 BC in Agrigento, Messina and Catania, when wine was a social, economic, political and religious symbol. In the Middle Ages in the face of the general decline of the European wine production, in Italy wine-makers increase the work of wineries, but the lack of cleanliness leads to the sudden oxidation of wines, so what matters is get rid of it as soon as possible. Northern Italy begins to resort to Southern Italy’s wines, rich in ethyl alcohol, to strengthen their products, which are too weak.
After a long period of decline, accentuated by the devastating action of powdery mildew and phylloxera, the sixties of the last century mark an important stage in the history of Italian wine. After the sharecropping, the first social wineries were born, which generated a greater care of the vineyard and a rationalization of production, first is established the OCD and then the DOCG, and from now on the oenologist will be a key figure. He chooses new varieties of vines and aims to rationalise the existing ones together with vineyard owners.
Since that moment the path of Italian wine production oscillates between tradition and innovation, traditional and international vines, aging in barriques or barrels. The regions that have taken the road of innovation, Tuscany stands out giving the birth, between 1968 and 1975, to the Super Tuscan wines (Vigorello of San Felice, Sassicaia and Tignanello) together with Piedmont.
In the exportation field, Italy is in second place, after France and before Spain. The most successful regions abroad are: Veneto (Prosecco), Piedmont (Asti bubbles), Tuscany, Trentino Alto Adige, Emilia Romagna and Lombardy.
Today wine has a hedonistic value, but its consumption is increasingly based on typicality.