Describe the key geographical features of Northern Italy
The vineyard regions are in the foothills of the Alps and on the extensive plain of the River Po
What is the overall climate of Northern Italy?
Moderate, with dry, short summers
Alps form a rain barrier
Moderating influences provided by bodies of water such as local rivers (like the Po) and glacial lakes (such as Garda)
What is the effect of proximity to the sea in Italy
These areas can have higher rainfall and be more at risk of fungal disease
Describe how Northern Italian vineyards were traditionally planted
High yielding vines at low densities With Pergola trellising systems
Describe a Pergola trellis
The vine canopy is trained high with the fruit hanging down below a horizontal canopy of leaves
What are the principal reasons for Pergola training?
To protect the grapes from sunburn To allow for better circulation, minimising the risk of rot
For what kinds of wines are Pergolas still used in Northern Italy?
High acidity and low sugar levels (e.g. for sparkling wine grapes) For dried grapes which need to be free from damage and disease
What is the most common training system in Northern Italy?
High density plantings using VSP
Where is Alto Adige?
Centred around the town of Bolzano in the foothills of the Alps Italy's most northerly wine region
Describe vineyard plantings in Alto Adige
Planted on terraces on the south-east and south-west facing valley sides of the River Adige
Describe the climate in Alto Adige
Moderate climate Short, dry summers Low rainfall during the growing season Most vineyards experience high diurnal range due to altitude
What does the high average vineyard altitude make the vineyards of Alto Adige ideal for?
Production of aromatic whites and elegant, light-bodied reds
What is the most notable white wine of Alto Adige?
Describe Pinot Grigio wines from Alto Adige
Dry Light to medium body High acid Citrus and green fruit flavours
What are the next most important white grapes of Alto Adige after Pinot Grigio?
Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc
Which red grape dominates production in Alto Adige?
Describe wines of Alto Adige made from Schiava
Light and fruity
Low to medium tannins
Flavours of raspberries and plums
How are almost all wines labelled in Alto Adige?
Alto Adige DOC
Where in Italy is Trentino?
Directly to the south of Alto Adige
Describe the geography of Trentino, particularly in relation to Alto Adige
The valley is wider here than further north
Where within the valley, are Trentino's vineyards planted?
On the valley floor as well as on the slopes on both sides of the valley
What is the climate of Trentino?
Moderate climate Dry summer and low rainfall (similar to Alto Adige) Slightly warmer than Alto Adige
Why is Trentino slightly warmer than Alto Adige?
More southerly latitude Vineyards at lower altitude Mountains to the west of the valley which protect from the cooling influence of Lake Garda
What are Trentino's two main varieties?
Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio
Describe the wines made from the valley floor of Trentino
Medium body Medium acidity Ripe stone fruit flavours
What are wines like which were made from grapes grown at higher altitudes in Trentino?
More similar to whites made in Alto Adige
What are the two most planted black grapes of Trentino?
Merlot and Teroldego
Where within Trentino are Merlot and Teroldego usually planted?
Mid-slopes and valley floor
Describe wines made from Teroldego in Trentino
Medium to full body Deep colour Medium to high tannin High acidity Aromas of black fruit Usually matured in oak
How are most wines labelled in Trentino?
Where in Italy is Friuli-Venezia Giulia?
In the north's eastern corner
Describe the most northerly vineyards in Friuli-Venezia Giulia
They are located in the foothills of the Alps
What is the climate of Friuli-Venezia Giulia?
Cooled by cold air from the mountains
On the flat plain near the Adriatic, the climate is warm maritime
Are many grape varieties are planted in Friuli?
What overall style is produced in Friuli?
Rich, ripe white and red wines
What are the most prevalent varieties in Friuli?
Pinot Grigio and Merlot
Describe Pinot Grigio in Friuli
Some of the richest in Italy Medium to full-bodied Juicy peach and tropical fruit flavours
What is the most planted black variety in Friuli?
Describe wines made from Merlot in Friuli
Medium body Medium acidity Medium tannins Ripe red fruit flavours Hint of spice from oak
Give a third widely grown grape from Friuli
How do the wines taste?
Wines with medium to high acidity
Aromas of pear, red apples and herbs
Describe wines from the plain of Friuli How are they labelled?
Labelled Friuli Grave DOC White and made in a simple fruity style
What are the two major sub-regions of Friuli located in the hills? What style do they create?
Colli Orientali DOC
Premium, more concentrated white wines
Of Collio and Colli Orientali, which is also noted for its red wines?
Colli Orientali DOC
Which Northern Italian wine region is also one of its largest?
Describe the location of Veneto
Extends from the southern end of Lake Garda in the west, to Venice in the east From the foothills of the Alps in the north, to the flat plains of the Po in the south
What is the climate like in Veneto?
Warm Moderate rainfall Cooling influence from altitude (so high diurnal range) and to the west of the region, from Lake Garda
What other weather phenomena are prevalent in Veneto?
The flat plain is affected by moist air and fog from the Po
What is the viticultural result of the extra humidity brought by the moist air and fog in Veneto?
More spraying is needed to combat disease and rot
What kind of wines are made from grapes on the flat fertile plain in Veneto?
Inexpensive, high-volume wines
Which grapes are most commonly grown on the flat plains of Veneto?
International: Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay and Merlot Local: Corvina, Garganega and Trebbiano
Why are the wines of Veneto's plains usually simple and fruity?
As a result of the high yields
How are the simple wines of Veneto's plains labelled?
Which DOC is spread across Veneto and Friuli?
Where is Soave?
East of Verona
Into how many distinct parts is Soave split?
Describe the two distinct parts of Soave
Foothills to the north A flat plain in the south, near the River Po
Describe the soils of Northern Soave
Limestone and clay with some volcanic rocks
Describe the characteristics of grapes from the foothills of Soave
Full flavour ripeness, but high acidity
How do northern Soave's grapes achieve full ripeness, but manage to retain their acidity?
The soils are naturally cool - this combined with the influence of altitude slows down ripening, resulting in retention of acidity, as well as good ripeness
Can Soave wines age well?
Yes; the better example from the foothills in the north
Describe the soils in the plains of Soave
Sandy and alluvial soils that aid ripening
Describe wines from the plains of Soave
Fruitier, with medium acidity
What are the varieties of Soave?
Garganega Small amounts of other white varieties can make up the blend
Describe the general profile of wines from Soave
Medium to high acidity
Aromas of pears, red apple and stone fruit
Sometimes aromas of white pepper
No typical aromas/flavours of new oak
In age worthy examples; aromas of almonds and honey
How are wines of Soave labelled?
Soave DOC Soave Classico DOC (from the foothills)
Where is Valpolicella?
North-west of Verona
Describe the topography of Valpolicella
Similar to that of Soave
What are the soils like in Valpolicella? What effect does that have on ripening/grapes?
The foothills of the north have limestone, clay and volcanic soils - this slows down ripening, so the grapes have more acidity The soils in the flatter south are gravel and sand - warmer, so the grapes are fruitier with less acidity
What is the main grape in Valpolicella?
To which region in Corvina native?
Describe a typical profile of the Corvina grape
Thin skin Moderate colour Low to medium tannins High acidity
How do winemakers increase the colour and tannins in Corvina-based wines?
Local grapes can be added to the blends
How may wines be labelled when grapes are used from the entire region of Valpolicella?
Where must Valpolicella be from when labelled with 'Classico'?
The foothills of the region
Describe wines labelled Valpolicella (Classico) DOC
Simple and fruity
Red cherry flavours
Made to drink immediately
What is the purpose of the passito method?
To increase structure, flavour concentration, and in the case of red wines, colour
Briefly describe the passito method
Grapes picked early, while still high in acidity
Dried indoors, concentrating sugars and flavours
Not fermented until winter
What are the two types of Passito wine in Valpolicella?
Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG
Describe wines labelled Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG
Dry or off-dry Full-bodied High alcohol Medium to high tannins Intensely concentrated red berry and spice flavours Usually aged in large oak casks
What is the main difference in the way Recioto della Valpolicella wines are made (as opposed to Amarone)
Made from grapes that are so sweet, the fermentation stops naturally
Describe Recioto della Valpolicella wines
Medium to high tannins
Intense red fruit flavours
Which other region of Northern Italy also makes the sweet Recioto wine style? What is it called?
Soave Recioto di Soave DOCG
What is the ripasso method?
Grape skins from a fermenting Amarone are drained off the skins shortly before fermentation finishes Skins remain unpressed and are added to a vat of Valpolicella that has finished fermentation Newly introduced yeasts ferment the remaining sugar on the Amarone grape skins New grape skins give more colour, flavour and tannins to the wine they have been added to
How may the Valpolicella wines be labelled which have undergone the ripasso method?
Valpolicella Ripasso DOC
Describe the flavour profile of Valpolicella Ripasso DOC
Medium to full-bodied
Medium to high tannins
Flavours of stewed red cherries and plums
Where is Piemonte in Italy?
In the northwest corner
What is the climate like in Piemonte?
Moderate continental Long, cold winters Summers subject to thunderstorms, hail and fog Mountains to the north protect the region from rain and winds Moderating influences from Po River and Lake Maggiore
What is Piemonte's most notable geographical feature?
Its foothills, ranging from 150 to 600 metres
What do the foothills of Piemonte provide viticulturally?
Different aspects and altitudes
What are Piemonte's most notable grapes? (black and white)
Black: Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto White: Cortese and Moscato
Where in Piemonte are its most famous wine making areas?
South of Turin, around the towns of Asti and Alba
What are the most prestigious wine regions of Piemonte?
Barolo DOCG and Barbaresco DOCG
What are Piemonte's IGT/IGP wines?
There are none - all are DOC or DOCG
Describe Barolo as an area
It's a horseshoe shaped valley, spanning several villages Made up of steep, south-facing slopes (300m - 500m)
What grapes make up Barolo DOCG?
What are the key features of the Nebbiolo grape?
Black grape High acidity High tannins Little colour
Describe Nebbiolo's key viticultural characteristic in Barolo
The grapes ripen slowly at the altitudes in Barolo
What are the flavours/characteristics of Barolo DOCG?
Full body High acidity High tannins Sour cherries, herbs and sometimes dried flowers Ability to develop in bottle
How are Barolo wines blended?
Often made from grapes sourced from different villages
When may a village name appear on a Barolo label? Give an example
When grapes are sourced from only that village Barolo Serralunga d'Alba DOCG
Where do the best Barolo come from? Give an example
Named villages or crus Barolo Cannubi DOCG
Which other grapes are grown within Barolo? How are they labelled?
Dolcetto and Barbera Alba DOC
How long must Barolo DOCG be aged before release?
Three, of which 18 months must be in oak
Describe the development of the role of oak in Barolo
It was traditionally aged in large oak barrels to soften harsh tannins Today, improvements in vineyard management and gentler methods of extraction mean that may producers choose to age their wines for less time
How may Barolo be aged?
In small barrels (sometimes new oak) or in larger casks, depending on intended style
What's the role of bottle ageing in Barolo wines?
All Barolo wines benefit from further bottle ageing
What does bottle ageing achieve with Barolo wines?
Continues to soften tannins Adds further complexity, giving aromas of truffles, tar and leather
For which grape is Barbaresco renowned?
Describe the geography of Barbaresco
It has south-facing slopes at lower altitudes than those of Barolo (200 to 400 metres)
A river flows nearby
What is the result of the lower altitudes and nearby river in Barbaresco?
Nebbiolo ripens earlier than Barolo Wines are fruitier and less perfumed
What are the characteristics of Barbaresco DOCG?
Similar tannin and acidity to Barolo
Fruitier and less aromatic than Barolo
What is the role of ageing in Barbaresco DOCG?
Must be aged for two years before release, with nine months in oak
Why are there fewer mentions of villages on the labels of Barbaresco?
Because it's a smaller area than Barolo
How can one identify a higher quality of Barbaresco DOCG?
It will be from a single named vineyard or cru
How are the majority of appellations named in the wider region of Asti and Alba?
After a grape variety, followed by their nearest town
What is the most widely planted variety in Asti and Alba?
What are the two main wines produced by Barbera?
Barbera d'Alba DOC Barbera d'Asti DOCG
Of Asti/Alba's popular Barbera wines, which is considered to be the higher quality?
Barbera d'Asti DOCG
Describe Barbera wines of Asti/Alba
Medium to deep colour
Low to medium tannins
Aromas of red cherries, plums and sometimes black pepper
What two styles is Barbera usually made into?
Youthful and fruity, with no oak influence
Barrel-aged with spicy flavours
What is arguably the second most widely planted variety of the Asti/Alba area of Piemonte?
What is a key viticultural characteristic of Dolcetto in Piemonte? What does it mean?
It's earlier ripening than Nebbiolo and Barbera
It can be planted in cooler sites
Which Dolcetto wine tends to produce many of the finest wines?
Dolcetto d'Alba DOC
Describe wines of Dolcetto d'Alba DOC
Deep, often purple colour
Medium to high tannins
Aromas of black plums, red cherries and dried herbs
How are Barbera and Dolcetto suited to ageing?
They can both be drunk young, but the best examples can age for several years
Besides Barbera and Dolcetto, which red grape is also planted in the Asti and Alba areas of Piemonte?
Besides Dolcetto and Barbera, what else is Asti known for?
Sparkling wines made from Moscato
Where is the region of Gavi?
In south-eastern Piemonte
Describe the terrain where Gavi's wine grapes are grown and what effect this has on the resultant wines
In hills The altitude combined with sea breezes, results in long, slow ripening of the grapes
What is the grape used for Gavi wines?
How may Gavi wines be labelled?
Gavi DOCG Cortese di Gavi DOCG Gavi di Gavi DOCG (if grapes are from the town of Gavi itself)
Describe the wines of Gavi
Pale Light-bodied High acidity Aromas/flavours of citrus, green apples and pears
How are Gavi wines usually vinified?
Protectively, with cool fermentation in stainless steel
How do some producers add complexity to their Gavi wines?
Fermentation in old oak Lees stirring
Describe age worthiness for Gavi wines
Usually ready to drink on release Wines from best producers can age well in bottle