Top Italian wines
Among Italy’s best, Barbaresco is the queen of Barolo’s’ king.
Like the famous Barolo, Barbaresco wine is also made from the small, thin skinned Nebbiolo grapes.
Originating from the Piedmont region of Northwestern Italy, the notable Barbaresco is aged for two years, before its retail release.
When labelled as a Riserva, the Barbaresco wine is stored for four years, before it is allowed to be sold.
Unlike Barolo wine, Barbaresco wine isn’t known for having a strong fruity taste. It is more earthy and musty, with a hint of acidity. It mostly has a stronger scent than taste, but Barbaresco does leave a pleasant aftertaste.
In Tuscany, the Chianti Classico wine is produced in several providences throughout the regions: Arezzo, Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena. Known for its packaging in a fiasco, or straw basket, the Chianti Classico is a Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita, which is the highest classification of Italian wines, but sometimes it is produced under the Superiore label. This label requires the wine to be made under a stricter production process.
Chianti Classico is made from a mix of different grapes. In a range of 75 to 100 percent, Chianti Classico is made from the Sangiovese grapes. Up to 10 percent of the wine is made from the Canaiolo grape, and up to 20 percent of the wine is made from other approved grapes.
The Sangiovese grape is the most widely planted varietal in Italy and it is responsible for some of Italy’s best wines – Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, and Vino Noble di Montepulciano.
The standard Chianti Classico must age for 12 months. However, when labelled as a Riserva, Chianti Classico must be aged for 24 months.
Chianti Classico is typically acidic and very dry, with notes of tart cherries and violets. It is a full-bodied wine, so it is best when paired with food.
Brunello di Montalcino
About 80 kilometers south of Florence, in the province of Siena, the Brunello di Montalcino is made in the town of Montalcino. This red Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita wine is 100 percent made from Sangiovese grape.
Before fermentation, the red wine is put through a long maceration period. During this step, in the production process, colour and flavour are slowly pulled from the skin of the Sangiovese grapes.
After the maceration period, the wine starts the fermentation process and must be aged for at least five years, before it can be released. For the Brunello di Montalcino wine labelled as Riserva, the wine must age for six years.
The Brunello di Montalcino wine has strong flavours of dark fruit, vanilla, chocolate and brown sugar. The flavour profile is bold, at first, but as the wine continues to age, the flavour intensity becomes more subtle.
Amarone della Valpolicella
Amarone della Valpolicella is known for being one of the most prestigious red wines from the Veneto region of northeastern Italy. Made from the passito grape, the grape must be dried using the appassimento method. This method partially dries out the grapes.
Then, they are slowly pressed, and the juice is also fermented slowly. After fermentation, the wine is aged for at least two years. In rare cases, Amarone della Valpolicella will be aged for nine to 10 years. Aging is typically done in oak wood barrels.
Once the Amarone della Valpolicella has gone through the aging process, this red wine lets off aromas of cinnamon, carob, plum sauce, black fig and cherry liqueur. These notes are strong, but other subtler scents are hidden underneath: chocolate, green peppercorn and, curiously, gravel dust.
Amarone della Valpolicella tastes of black cherry, chocolate and brown sugar. Although, when it is aged for a longer period of time, other flavours begin to emerge, like molasses and fig, while the taste of brown sugar strengthens.
Veneto is one of Italy’s biggest white wine producers – with multiple white DOC wines, including Lugana and Prosecco.
The Garganega grape is most popular in the region, followed by Pinot Bianco, Trebbiano, Italian Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio.
The easiest-to-recognize Italian white wine is definitely Pinot Grigio. In general, this varietal is light, on the drier side, and slightly citrusy on its finish.
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