I am no wine critic but I enjoy the wines of Italy and below are some of the wines I have had that I can recommend. This is by no means an exhaustive list of the wines produced in Italy, many of which are never exported, purely a selection of the wines I have drunk and enjoyed.
Some of the most enjoyable wines I have had have come in jugs or bottles with no name other than Bianco or Rosso.
I will add to this list as I drink more wines !!!
Est! Est! Est!
Montefiascone, overlooking the lake of Bolsena, produces a famous straw-yellow muscat wine that has a strange name, Est! Est!! Est!!! and a most unusual story.
In the twelfth Century the German bishop, Johann Fugger, while travelling down he length of Italy towards Roma, sent a servant ahead of him to sample all the local wines and write “Est” (Latin for [here it] is) with a piece of chalk on the doors of the taverns which served the best. On reaching Montefiascone the servant found a wine so good that he wrote “Est” not once but three times on the tavern door. The bishop on reaching the town, apparently agreed with his servant’s verdict and drank so much that he died. On his tomb located in the church of St Flaviano, the following Latin epitaph can still be read today ” My Lord, John de Foucris died here because of too much “Est” “. Fugger willed all his belongings to the town council on condition that each year a barrel of wine be poured over his tomb, a practice observed until about a century ago.
Frascati – A fresh, dry wine with a bit of fizz sometimes – emanating from the area just to the south of Rome.
Greco di Tufo – My favourite white wine comes from Campania and is grown in the volcanic soil around Tufo, Santa Paolina, North of Avellino. It is a full bodied white wine, whilst retaining a dry, crisp feel
Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Bianco – (Christ’s Tears) – A balanced, smooth, dry wine, grown on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius near Naples.
Orvieto – A crisp, dry wine with a bit more flavour than some Italian whites – comes from Umbria and part of north Latium.
Soave – The Italian wine that everyone must have heard of, again a crisp, dry wine. Produced in the Veneto region in huge quantities, 50 million litres a year, it is sometimes difficult to find a good one but they do exist and are worth looking for. A good wine for drinking in quantity.
Pinot Grigio – Another wine from the area around Lake Garda, like Soave but usually a better quality.
Amarone della Valpolicella – This has to be one of the best wines I have ever tasted, it produced around the Verona, Lake Garda area and has to be tasted to be believed. It is a full bodied red with a smoky flavour.
Bardolino – A great all purpose wine for glugging, again produced around the Lake Garda area. The town of Bardolino is one of the nicest places on the Lake.
Barolo – Described by the Piedmontese as ‘King of Wines and Wine of Kings’. A great red wine, it needs about 8 years before it loses it’s tannic ‘hardness’ – but it is worth the wait.
Brunello – The best Red in Tuscany, a superb rounded red wine, if you can drink it in Montalcino all the better
Chianti – This must be Italy’s most famous wine, produced in seven zones around Tuscany. It ranges in quality from very bad to very good and was promoted to DOCG status in 1984. A good all round red wine.
Valpolicella – Again a great all purpose wine for glugging.
Prosecco – A dry sparkling wine, a native of Friuli, drunk usually as an aperitif, can be difficult to get outside Italy but is well worth it if you can.
Asti Spumante – This wine I use as a dessert wine these days, it is a sweetish sparkling wine and goes well with most desserts and adds a bit of zest to the end of a meal.