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WSET Diploma: Unit 3: Italy > Emilia- Romagna > Flashcards

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Emilia- Romagna

South of the river Po, fertile and high yielding.


Colli Placentini DOC

Western edge of Emilia- Romagna, similar climatically to Oltrepo Pavese in Lombardy. Similar quality wine produced from Barbera. New plantings of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon are showing real promise.


Sangiovese di Romagna DOC

Correct clonal selection results in a higher quality product.


Trebbiano di Romagna DOC

Refreshing still or sparkling white.


Emilia- Romagna

Italian wine region which stretches across north-central Italy from the eastern Adriatic coast to include vast tracts of inland Emilia in the west, which is quite distinct from coastal Romagna in the east. There are four very individual areas, each producing distinct wines: the hills around Piacenza in the north west bordering lombardy; the plain in central Emilia around Parma, Reggio nell’Emilia, and Modena; the hills around Bologna; and the hills in Romagna between Imola and Rimini bordering tuscany to the south east. The Colli Piacentini, geologically and climatically similar to the contiguous oltrepò pavese of Lombardy, is divided in three subregions, Monterosso Val d’Arda, Valnure, and Trebbianino Val Trebbia, which may appear on labels. Many of its frizzante or lightly sparkling whites from malvasia Candia, the rare ortrugo (recently elevated to DOC, without, confusingly any geographical delimitation) and Trebbiano; and reds from barbera and croatina (incorrectly called bonarda here), are made by the tank method (see sparkling winemaking) in industrial volumes. However, the traditional complex, bottle-fermented versions are slowly gaining ground again, notably those from Ermano Croce. The area’s most interesting other developments come from the subzone of Riverargo-Vigolzone, with complex varietal pinot noir and barbera, cabernet blends, and Malvasia di Candia for whites. La Stoppa and Denavolo achieve excellence here, both preferring to label their wines igt rather than DOC. The doc Gutturnio, once a suffix to Colli Piacentini and with a classico subzone as its heart, produces red wine based on Barbera and Croatina, has untapped potential, both for still as well as frizzante versions. The flat Emilia plain is often associated with one wine only: lambrusco. Since the 1970s this light, frothy, and often slightly sweet red has been a huge export success, and industrial-sized production has completely dominated Lambrusco’s image. There are no fewer than four different Lambrusco DOCs, representing distinct styles, which rarely surface in the glass of the industrial versions. The Colli Bolognesi, the hills immediately south west of Bologna, are dominated by international varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay. The good results achieved here can be traced back to the pioneering estate Terre Rosse, whose founder Enrico Vallania planted these varieties in the 1960s, aiming at making long-lived wine without any use of oak. The local white Pignoletto, producing fresh, lively and often lightly sparkling whites, has been elevated to docg, but few producers aim for quality, as most Pignoletto ends up in the tanks of large bottlers and huge co-operatives, an exception being Alberto Tedeschi. The Romagna Hills, covered by the enormous doc Romagna, are home to both some of the best and worst of the region’s output. Total production is dominated by co-ops turning out industrial quantities of insipid sangiovese and trebbiano. The image of romagna sangiovese has suffered particularly from this indifference, much to the frustration of a group of quality-focused producers (see sangiovese di romagna for more details). The oft-scorned Romagna albana (see docg), grown in the same extensive area as Romagna Sangiovese and elevated to DOGC in 1986 to considerable scepticism, is beginning to prove its worth with fine passito and botrytized versions as well as some serious barrel-fermented dry wines, often from single vineyards.


Colli Piacentini

Diverse doc zone centred on the hills of Piacenza in Emilia in north-central Italy.



At least six distinct varieties grown in Italy are known principally as Trebbiano, including Trebbiano Toscano, whose national total of 22,702 ha/56,098 acres in 2010 made it one of the most planted white wine grapes in Italy. Next most planted, largely in Emilia-Romagna, on 15,893 ha was the remarkably similar Trebbiano Romagnolo. Trebbiano Giallo is found on 10,663 ha, particularly in Lazio, and Trebbiano Spoletino is an Umbrian speciality grown on 200 ha. Trebbiano Modenese is grown on 363 ha and is associated with production of the local vinegar while Trebbiano d’Abruzzo (also known as Trebbiano Abruzzese) is quite unrelated to any other Trebbiano. Meanwhile, many an Italian synonym incorporates the word Trebbiano, most notably Trebbiano di Soave, Trebbiano di Lugana, and Trebbiano Valtenesi, which are all the Marche grape verdicchio. There are almost as many possible histories of Trebbiano as there are different varieties called Trebbiano (the index of Wine Grapes has no fewer than 28 entries for grape names beginning with Trebbiano). The Bolognese agronomist petrus de crescentiis certainly described a vine called Tribiano as early as 1303, but which? Today, Trebbiano is planted all over Italy (with the exception of the cool far north), to the extent that it is likely that the great majority of basic vino bianco will contain at least some of the variety, if only to add acidity and volume. The stronghold of Trebbiano Toscano, shown by dna profiling to have a parent-offspring relationship with the garganega of Soave, is central Italy. It is known as ugni blanc and St-Émilion in France, Tália in Portugal, and is widely planted around the world. Any grape called simply Trebbiano is likely to be Trebbiano Toscano. See under its most common French name ugni blanc for details of Trebbiano in France. This gold-, even amber-berried grape variety is so productive, and so much planted in both France and Italy, the world’s two major wine-producing countries, that it may well still produce more wine than any other vine variety in the world—even though the total area it was planted on appears to have slipped from fifth to ninth place between 1990 and 2010. It is cited in more doc regulations than any other single variety (about 80) and may well account for more than a third of Italy’s entire DOC white wine production. Trebbiano Toscano the wine is typically light, crisp, and wet. Some idea of Trebbiano Toscano’s ubiquity is given by listing just some of the wines in which it is an ingredient: verdicchio, orvieto, frascati, together with soave (Trebbiano Toscano was planted in place of Trebbiano di Soave in the 1960s and 1970s when yield was a more important consideration than quality but has now been outlawed). The variety has after all had many centuries to adapt itself to local conditions. Between Tuscany and Rome, in umbria, the variety can be known as Procanico, which some agronomists believe is a superior, smaller-berried Trebbiano. Only the fiercely varietal-conscious north eastern corner of Italy is virtually free of this bland ballast. Trebbiano’s malign influence was most noticeable in central tuscany in much of the 20th century, however, where Trebbiano was so well entrenched that chianti and therefore vino nobile di montepulciano laws sanctioned its inclusion in this red wine, thereby diluting its quality as well as its colour and damaging its reputation. Trebbiano is now very much an optional ingredient, however, increasingly spurned by quality-conscious producers. Once Trebbiano fell out of favour with Chianti producers, an attempt was made to transform it into innocuous dry whites such as galestro. Fortunately, the market for these wines has dwindled, and in the 2000s much Trebbiano in Tuscany was grubbed up, or used in vin santo. Trebbiano Toscano has also managed to infiltrate Portugal’s fiercely nationalistic vineyards, as Tália or Thalia, and is widely planted in bulgaria and in parts of Croatia, and greece. As well as being used for mexico’s important brandy production, Trebbiano is well entrenched in the southern hemisphere, where its high yields and high acidity are valued. There were still nearly 2,000 ha of ‘Ugni Blanc’ in Argentina in 2012 as well as plantings in Brazil and Uruguay. South Africa also calls its relatively limited plantings Ugni Blanc but relies more on colombard for brandy production and cheap, tart blending material, as does California, whose 200 remaining acres of the vine called ‘St-Emilion’ there are exclusively in the Central Valley, although interesting varietal versions called Trebbiano are not entirely unknown. Australia, where Colombard is also more important, has about 200 ha of Trebbiano, planted mainly in the irrigated areas, where it provides a usefully tart ingredient in basic blended whites and is also sometimes used by distillers. The influence of Trebbiano/Ugni Blanc will surely continue to decline as wine drinkers seek flavour with increasing determination.


Trebbiano Romagnolo

and its almost amber-berried clone Trebbiano della Fiamma, dominates white wine production in emilia-romagna and results in generally remarkably undistinguished dry whites. The variety is cultivated across a wide swathe of romagna in the provinces of Bologna, Forlì, and Ravenna, and only about a fifth is registered for the production of DOC wines. It is permitted on its own or as a blending component in no fewer than 12 of Emilia-Romagna’s total of 21 denominations. Permitted yields of almost 100 hl/ha (5.7 tons/acre) do little to assist a grape not known for its striking personality, and most Trebbiano di Romagna is, at best, suitable for a picnic.


What is Emilia Romagna known for?

Known for being the ‘stomach’ of Italy (Parma ham, vinegar & rich foods)


Emilia Romagna: Climate and Weather

Lowlands (Piacenza to Ravenna – south of river Po): damp weather with lots of fog

Mountains & hills (at the Apennine foothills): good air circulation so climate less humid


Emilia Romagna: Typography and Soil

Lowlands (Piacenza to Ravenna): plains with alluvial fertile soils

Mountains & hills (at the Apennine foothills): more barren soils of residual pebbles and red loam; up to 350m hi


Emilia Romagna: Sangiovese di Romagna

Reputation for lower quality but better clones as good as Sangiovese di Toscana

Best comes from the Apennines foothills


Emilia Romagna: Other Red Wine Grapes

Cabernet, Bonarda, Barbera


Emilia Romagna: Trebbiano di Romagna

Similar to Trebbiano di Toscano i.e. hi productivity & little flavour

Used in light, soft dry whites in variety of styles


Emilia Romagna: Albana

3rd most important grape in Emilia-Romagna

Best in red clay hills east of Forli & Bertinoro

Dry wines are characterless. Dessert wines are more interesting


Emilia Romagna: Other White Wine Grapes

Malvasia, Pignoletto, Chardonnay


Emilia Romagna: Viticulture and Winemaking

61,000ha for 6.8m hl production - #4 largest producing region in Italy

Very high yields permitted and hence produced including for DOC & DOCG


Emilia Romagna: Colli Piacentini

Western edge of the region; similar climate to Oltrepo Pavese in Lombardy

Good quality wine made from Barbera. New plantings of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Cab Sauv.

Some producers like La Stoppa & La Tosa drive quality upwards.


Emilia Romagna: Sangiovese di Romagna DOC (R)

South-east corner of Romagna between Bologna & Rimini; sandstone & clay soils & hi summer temperature

Best examples around Forli e.g. Umberto Cesar’s Cabernet-Sangiovese ‘Liana’


What is the white DOC of Emilia Romagna based on Trebbiano?

Trebbiano di Romagna


Emilia Romagna: Albana di Romagna DOCG (W)

First white DOCG in Italy (1986); covers similar but slightly smaller area as Sangiovese di Romagna

4 different styles: Sacco, amabile, dolce & passito. Hi yields rule defeats the purpose of DOCG


Emilia Romagna: Production

6.8m hl/yr production - #4 largest wine region in Italy but only 15% of DOC & most of it is Lambrusco

Strong cooperative influence w the largest cooperative controlling 27,000ha (>Germany’s vineyard area)


Romagna Sangiovese

Quantitatively important varietal doc made from the most widely cultivated red grape variety in romagna. In 2010 a total of 7,100 ha/17,537 acres of Sangiovese were planted, with some 3,000 ha registered for the production of DOC wine. The reputation of the zone has been sullied by production rules geared towards high yields and quick turnover of wines, by the mediocre quality of much of the wine produced, especially by the co-operatives that dominate here, and by the erroneous belief that the clones of sangiovesein Romagna are inferior to those in Tuscany. Sangiovese di Romagna is part of the same Sangiovese Grosso group as, for example, brunello, but old bush vines around Predappio in Romagna appear to be of the Lamole variety, which has a higher phenolic content and produces smaller grapes resulting in higher extract in the final wines. In the past the enormous size of the DOC made irrelevant any possible differences in clones as well as sites to all but the very few seriously ambitious Romagnan producers, but recent changes in the DOC’s regulation have established the creation of 12 subzones, which can be broadly grouped in three different macro zones. Faentino, the vineyard area around Faenza (with the subzones of Serra, Brisighella, Modigliana, Marzeno, and Oriolo) whose vineyards are rich in iron and clay and planted at an elevation of up to 200 m, and with more calcareous soils over 200 m towards the Appenines. Forlivese around Forlì (with the subzones Castrocaro-Terra del Sole, Predappio, Bertinoro, and Medola), has predominantly clay soils, while soils towards the Appenines have a higher iron and sandstone content. Cesanese around Cesena (with the sub zones of Cesena, San Vicinio, and Longiano) has hillside vineyards up to 200 m and, where due to the vicinity of the coast, a more moderate climate prevails and soils consisting of calcareous clay. Stylistic differences based on subzones are beginning to become a reality, but heavy-handed winemaking, and especially the overuse of new French oak, tends to obscure these for the moment, although a return to ageing the wines in large oak cask instead is noticeable. Producers willing to mention the subzone on their labels must include at least 95% Sangiovese in the wines and yields must not exceed 9 tonnes/ha (compared with 85% Sangiovese and 12 tonnes/ha for regular Romagna Sanviovese). In youth, Romagna Sangiovese tends to be a dense, muscular wine informed by the variety’s hallmark acidity, but it can age well into a more complex, multilayered whole. A group of quality-oriented producers known as Convito di Romagna goes even further. A voluntarily imposed set of production regulations, including even lower yields and the production of at least one pure Sangiovese wine, often from a single vineyard, has been their main strategy in proving that the wines can be on a par with the best from Tuscany. Such determination and the creation of subzones represent the first steps on the road towards quality from the quantity that still determines the region’s output.


Emilia- Romagna is very famous for food but it isn’t for food. However it does have two DOCGs. What are they?

Romagna Albana and Colli Bolognesi Pignoletto


Romagna Albana in Emilia- Romagna?

Makes white wine from the Albana grape in many styles. The most promising is passito.


Colli Bolognesi Pignoletto in Emilia- Romagna?

- Awarded DOCG in 2011

- Tart, dry varietal wines from Grechetto

- Made in the area around Bologna


What is made in Emilia-Romagna in vast qualities?



What are the most famous DOCs of Lambrusco?

Lambrusco Grasparossa Di Castelvetro
Lambrusco Di Sorbara
Lambrusco Salamino Di Santa Croce


What style of wine is Lambrusco?

Frizzante red wines from over sixty subvarieties. They are made from dry to dolce. Lambrusco is exclusive to Emilia- Romagna, but the other appellation that is across the border in Lombardy. This appellation is called Lambrusco Mantovano DOC


What brand of Lambrusco catapulted it to success?

Banfi’s “Riunite” brand. It became a huge success for Italy around the world.