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DWWA 2014: Regional Italy insights

Hear from our Regional Italy Regional Chair Ian D’Agata on which wines to buy, which wines to leave on the shelf and what to keep an eye on from this year's Decanter World Wine Awards....

Regional Italy includes the wine-producing regions of Valle d’Aosta, Liguria, Lombardy, Trentino- Alto Adige/Südtirol, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Emilia-Romagna, Le Marche, Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo and Molise. Obviously, it’s a large swathe offering a mixed bag of wine styles and quality levels. Each of these regions is linked to many typical, unique wines that can be found only there: Valle d’Aosta offers, among many others, Fumin, Petit Rouge and Petite Arvine; Trentino- Alto Adige/Südtirol offers Germanic varieties such as Müller- Thurgau, Gewürztraminer and Kerner; Trentino and Lombardy are where you’ll find Italy’s best sparklers; Umbria sports Orvieto (made with Grechetto and other local varieties) and Sagrantino; Lazio has Frascati and many interesting sweet wines; Liguria has Vermentino and Pigato; Le Marche offers Verdicchio; Abruzzo is famous for Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. Unfortunately, quality is not uniform, so get to know the better producers.

What should we buy from here?

Pinot Grigio from Valle d’Aosta and Gewürztraminer from Alto Adige are Italy’s best wines using these respective varieties. Vermentino and Pigato from Liguria are idiosyncratic and refreshing. Abruzzo’s Pecorino is Italy’s hottest white, but go for the best names such as Cataldi Madonna, Tiberio or Camillo Montori, because there’s a lot of plonk. Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is an undervalued wine, mainly because everyone confuses it with the many other Trebbianos made with lesser-quality varieties such as Trebbiano Toscano or Romagnolo. The 2007 we awarded a Trophy is a truly great wine that shows the quality and ageability of this great variety. Look out, too, for Lazio’s sweet wines, though sadly few were submitted this year.

What should we leave on the shelf?

Unfortunately, regions such as Umbria and Abruzzo are still plagued by too many cheap, poorly made renditions of wines such as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo or Orvieto, many of which taste unripe or have too much residual sugar. Wine lovers need to realise that the costs of labour and running a winery in Italy mean that paying £5 or less will never give you a good, let alone a great wine. Such ‘bargains’ are unfortunately all too common in supermarkets and countries with state monopolies. Get to know the truly good-quality stuff being made by small familyrun domaines in regional Italy – such as these listed here – and be willing to pay £2 more for the privilege. It’s worth it.

What should we keep an eye on?

For whites, try Friuli’s Ribolla Gialla (fresh, non-oxidised ones) and Pinot Bianco, Müller-Thurgau from Alto Adige, Marche’s Verdicchio di Matelica, Petite Arvine from Valle d’Aosta, and Liguria’s lemony fresh Albarola’s. For reds, Trentino-Alto Adige’s Schiavas, Friuli’s Schioppettino, Umbria’s Montefalco Rosso and the better Lambruscos from Emilia-Romagna.

Written by Decanter

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