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WINES BY REGION

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Italy

Italy (in most vintages) produces more wine than any other country.  It also boasts more - far more - grape varieties than any other country, some 850 or more have been documented by Italy's Ministry of Agriculture, with many more than that as yet undocumented.  To the novice, Italy boasts a bewildering array of DOCs and DOCGs (essentially quality guarantees decreed by the local authorities testifying to the 'typicity' of the wine with what it should be) which, when combined with unusual and unknown varieties, gives little away to prospective consumer.italy-barolo.jpg

Italian wine has undergone a number of 'revolutions' over the past few decades.  The 70s saw the emergence of high-quality (and often expensive) wines produced from international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay and Syrah - sometimes blended with the local varieties.  Most prominently, this movement saw the rise to prominence with the international recognition of wines such as Sassicaia, Tignanello and Ornellaia.  The 1980s saw the widespread adoption of 'modern' winemaking techniques, such as utilising new French oak barriques and different fermentation methods.  The past 10 or 15 years has seen a more balanced approach, with the accepted co-existence of both modern and traditional schools of thought, and a re-embrace of indigenous varieties and techniques.

Whilst it is the great wines of Piedmont (notably Barolo and Barbaresco) and Tuscany that tend to garner the most attention, there are a myriad of terrific wines (and terrific values) to be had throughout the entire country.

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