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What are the main grapes of Italy?

We know that Italy is among the world’s biggest producers of wine and is the lead of the sparkling wines exporters chart, as Prosecco surpassed Champagne in 2014.

Italy is a very interesting producer also for historical reasons and for having a uniquely wide vine panorama, with more than 500 native grapes, besides the main international varieties. But what are Italy’s most grown vines?

main grapes italy

What are the most grown grapes in Italy?

Let’s jump into the main vine varieties grown in Italy.

  • Sangiovese

    With around 54 thousand ha, Sangiovese (also called Nielluccio) is the most grown vine in Italy. It’s not a surprise, being this amazing red grape the basis to many amazing wines like Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso Piceno, and many others. The Italian regions where Sangiovese is mostly grown are Tuscany, Emilia Romagna, and Marche.

  • Montepulciano

    not to be mistaken with the wine Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (covered in this other article) or with the wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, the Montepulciano grape variety covers a wide area of the regions Marche, Abruzzo, Molise, for a total area of almost 39’000 hectares. Some wines produced with Montepulciano are Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Conero and Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo.

  • Glera

    once also called “Prosecco" and then modified in order to protect the denomination area where the Prosecco wine is produced (see this article), the Glera grape is actually the main ingredient of the famous Italian sparkling. It is grown in the entire Prosecco DOC area, which covers a very wide piece of land from the province of Vicenza, in Veneto, to the land of Trieste, in Friuli Venezia Giulia. The total area cultivated in Glera is 27’000 hectares.

  • Pinot Grigio

    the same grape called Pinot Gris around the world, but in Italy is vinified in a lighter, fresher version which is usually intended to be consumed young. It is a black grape variety which is usually used for white wines and it’s mostly grown in the top-right corner of Italy: Friuli Venezia Giulia, Veneto, Trentino Alto Adige, for a total area of 26 thousand hectares.

  • Merlot

    this international grape coming from France is now very appreciated all around the world and grown almost everywhere. In Italy arrived around 1800 in Friuli Venezia Giulia and then spread in Veneto and Trentino Alto Adige as it found the perfect climate conditions. Nowadays it’s really successful in Tuscany, where is used to produce the popular Supertuscan wines. Merlot covers 28’000 ha in Italy.

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The wine Pignolo: a Friulian native gem

Wine has gone through many different ages in its history, and most of them have seen it as celebrated nectar always enriching the table of rich and noble classes. During the Middle Ages, though, wine has been almost completely forgotten, producing plants destroyed and vines lost forever. Luckily, the Christian Church saved wine from extinction: as wine is a key element in religious functions, clergy kept growing grapes, producing wine and improve the vinification techniques. 

Like many other grape varieties, Pignolo is one of the lucky ones that has been saved just in time.

After being lost for centuries, Pignolo has been recovered from the gardens of Rosazzo Abbey, in Friuli Venezia Giulia, in the last two decades.

Thanks to the curiosity and brave entrepreneurship of some local producers, now Pignolo lives a new era of glory; thanks to its characteristics, though, there is still some work to do and even better results to be accomplished.

pignolo wine was re-discovered in Rosazzo Abbey

The Rosazzo Abbey, where Pignolo vines patiently waited to be re-discovered, is located on top of a hill in the town of Rosazzo, in the Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. It is around this hill, in the municipalities of Buttrio, Corno di Rosazzo and Premariacco that Pignolo vineyards are now found, and the production of this rich wine is regulated by the denomination area Colli Orientali del Friuli DOC.

Pignolo has to age a lot

“Pignolo has to age a lot” says Alessio Dorigo, one of the first Pignolo growers of this era, in an interview to Civiltà del Bere

This wine has a very strong character that needs to be tamed, that’s why winegrowers have to start caring for it already in the vineyard. In Azienda Agricola Dorigo, harvesting is made by hand, fermentation happens in a controlled temperature, and malolactic fermentation is closely monitored. Finally, the wine matures in brand new wooden barrels (barrique) for three years and again inside the bottle for the same amount of time. Just then, this wine can give its best inside your glass.

pignolo wine ages in wooden barrels

Typical traits of Pignolo

Color

Deep ruby

Aroma

Red berries, Cherry, Plum
 

Taste

Red berries jam, spicy ending.
 

Popular pairings with Pignolo

The strong and harsh character of Pignolo make it a powerful red that requires an equally powerful dish to create a good tasting experience. 

For this, juicy red meats, spicy foods, very tasty soups are the best complement to Pignolo.

Red Meat

Boar, Venison, Beef, meat stews.

Classic spices

BBQ, rich soups and dressings.
 

Fruity Cheese

Medium-tasty cheese, smoked cheese, Cheddar, Gouda.

pignolo wine is great with meat

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Prosecco: 6 things you didn’t know about this wine

Impossible not knowing Prosecco, the white wine with a pale yellow color, fresh, shiny, brilliant. It is appreciated mostly in its fizzy version and is very popular since the ’90s also because is an essential ingredient of the famous cocktail Aperol Spritz. Everybody knows it, but here below you find 6 things that you probably didn’t know just yet.

Continue reading “Prosecco: 6 things you didn’t know about this wine”
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