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Italy

Southern Italy

  • Campania is the region of Naples, well known for warmth, lots of sunshine and well-drained hillside vineyard sites. The soil is largely volcanic in nature and the region is rich in indigeneous grapes. One of the most noble of these is the Aglianico used in Taurasi. It buds early and ripens early, flourishing in the areas volcanic soils and hillside vineyards. It produces a deep, earthy, structured and somewhat rustic red that can age and improve for many years. Another local variety is Piedirosso. It produces deeply colored wines with sharper acidity and less body than Aglianico. It is bottled on its own or with varieties such as Guarnaccia, Primitivo, Sciascinoso and Barbera in small DOCs along the Amalfi coast such as Furore.

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  • White wines of Campagnia include Fiano di Avellino, a lovely grape that produces wine with hints of pine needles, exotic flowers and minerals. It is sometimes 85% Fiano blended with Trebbiano and other native grapes such as Greco and Coda di Volpe. Greco di Tufo on its own is also a pleasant wine, with somewhat more full body and less delicacy than Fiano. It is sometimes blended with up to 20% Coda di Volpe. Other blending partners include Falanghina, the grape of the ancient Roman Falernian, Forestera, Biancolella, Trebbiano, Malvasia and Verdeca.

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  • Basilicata is a small region, known for little except Aglianico del Vulture, which is produced on the steep slopes of Mt. Vulture in volcanic soil.

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  • Puglia is a large and varied region stretching along the south east of Italy. By itself it would certainly rank as one of the largest wine producing nations of the world, but a huge amount is the cheapest bulk wine; only 10% of its wine is put into bottles and only 5% is DOC. 10% of all production is distilled for industrial alcohol. Along with much of southern Italy and Sicily, this is a region with huge potential.

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  • Some of the best Puglian wines are made in the Salento peninsula, based on Negroamaro. This local variety is a favorite because it is resistant to disease and crops well. It also gives wines of deep color and firm tannins and juicy acidity to balance the spicy, jammy fruit character. It is one of the mainstays of nearly all wines of the peninsula, but it is also often blended, with familiar grapes such as Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, Malbec, Barbera and Montepulciano and those that are less familiar, like Malvasia Nera, Susumaniello, Bombino Nero and Uva de Troia.

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  • Another well-loved Puglian wine is Primitivo, a grape which is closely related to the Zinfandel of California. It is often vinified on its own and sometimes dried to make a passito style dessert wine. It is characteristically fruity and high in alcohol, with reasonable acidity, but a susceptibility to rot and a tendancy to oxidize.

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  • Uva de Troia is a grape that can be remarkably restrained for these warm climates, and Aleatico di Puglia can be naturally sweet and unfortified, or very sweet and fortified.

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  • White wine is also produced in Puglia although it receives somewhat less renown. Grape varieties include Pampanuto and Chardonnay for Castel del Monte Bianco, Greco, Malvasia, Greco and Bianco d’Alessano, Bombino, Trebbiano and Verdeca in Gravina, Impigno and Francavilla.

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  • Calabria is the southwestern extreme of Italy. It is here that Ciro DOC wines are produced from Gaglioppo. This grape is blended with Greco Nero, Malvasia, Mantonico, Pecorello, Nerello, Guarnaccia, Nocera, Cappuccio, Magliocco Canino and good old Sangiovese. Whites are made from Greco Bianco, Coda di Volpe, Verdeca, Falanghina Malvasia and Trebbiano.

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  • Sicily, like Puglia, has a long history of producing wines, some of which are delicious, while others are less so. The main quality grape is Nero d’Avola, which gives wine that is full bodied, structured and long-lived, with an attractive, spicy, herbal, minerally and earthy character.

    Other grape varieties include Nerello Mascalese and Cappuccino, Mantellato, Gaglioppo, Sangiovese, Frappato and Pignatello. One of the best regions for red wine is on the slopes of Mt. Etna.

    White table wine is usually made from Carricante and Catarratto. Other grapes include the Grillo, one of the island’s best, and international varieties such as Chardonnay and Muscat.

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  • Marsala is also produced in Sicily, from the Grillo, Catarratti and Inzolia with Pignatello, Garganega, Calabrese, Damaschino and Nerello. It is fortified and sweetened with grape concentrate. Marsala is made in several styles: secco, semi-secco, and dolce; oro, ambra & rubino; fine (aged 1 year), Superiore (aged 2 years), Vergine (aged 5 years), Stravecchio or Riserva (aged 10 years). Stravecchio can only be done in a secco style, as can Solera aged Marsala, which must also be aged 10 years.

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  • Sardinia is known mostly for their red wine made from Cannonau, which is thought to be the same as Grenache. It is done in a range of styles from dry to fortified and very sweet. Other grapes used in Sardinia include Bovale, Pascale di Caligari, Greco Nero, Monica, Carignano del Sulcis, Giro di Caligari. Sardinian white wines include various Malvasias and Moscatos as well as Nuragus, Trebbiano, Romagnolo, Vermentino, Clairette, Semidano, Vementino and Vernaccia.

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