Where are the best Italian wine regions?
I’m a fan of bold red wines (Riojas, Syrahs) and really enjoyed travelling around the vineyards of Tuscany / Umbria a few years ago.
I’d like to revisit Italy and explore some new wine regions – preferably places with unique local cuisine too, and of course less touristy.
I’d definitely vote for Orvieto. Sitting on top of its tufa cliff (essentially a big rock tabletop) it has all the culinary appeal of Umbria (and is especially known for truffles) coupled with fantastically drinkable white wine. Exceedingly drinkable, in fact…
Further south in Campania, made from grapes grown on the slopes of Vesuvius, you’ll find the marvellously named Lacryma Christa (“tears of Christ”). While the wine isn’t quite as splendid as the name suggests, when teamed with some local buffalo mozzarella and enjoyed with a view across the Bay of Naples, it takes a bit of beating.
You could do worse than spend some time around Lake Garda, in the Veneto region.
Although best known for Valpolicella, weighing in at around 11% abv, and Bardolino,
the region also produces some amazing fuller, heavier wines, notably Ripasso della Valpolicella
Plus you’ll be well placed for a chilled glass of delicious Limoncello as a digestif or palate cleanser between different wines. Have a great time.
Friuli-Venezia Giulia would be a good place to try – Italy’s third most important quality wine region behind Piedmont and Tuscany. Although its white wines are most famous, the reds are catching up – try Cabernet Franc, Refosco/Terrano and the obscure Schioppettino.
Trieste is great as a stop-off, too. It’s a grand maritime city – with the huge open space of Piazza Unita d’Italia at is heart – and there are plenty of no-frills places where you can tuck into delicious fresh grilled seafood. You’ll also find plenty of evidence throughout the region of the Austro-Hungarian era, with hearty, simple dishes and sweet treats like strudel on offer. In the Carso, near Trieste, you should seek out an osmiza where farmers sell their own produce, such as cheese and cured meats, olives, bread and wine. And did I mention San Daniele, the home of prosciutto…?
Hope that’s enough to whet your appetite!
I’m going to start my wine tour at Highbury Vintners this weekend, and see if they can rustle up some Schioppettino…