Sampling Italy’s indigenous red wine grapes

Italy is one of the most famous wine producing countries in the world, and is home to hundreds of indigenous grapes. Some of these don’t grow elsewhere in the world and can only be found in specific regions of the country. The number of different grapes means Italian wine is fantastically varied, including dry and sweet varieties that can be either bold, medium or light flavoured and feature fruit and earth tones.
Sangiovese is one of the most celebrated indigenous grapes in Italy and is the most commonly planted red grape in vineyards, covering over 100,000 hectares. It is primarily grown in Tuscany and Umbria, although several other regions grow it and its sub-varieties too. The grape is crucial to Italian red wine production, and is used in many critically acclaimed wines. Its characteristics are astonishing, including firm tannins, medium intensity colour and the aroma and flavour of cherry and herbs. Many wines made from these grapes are exceptionally smooth and feature forest aromas to make them truly special.
Nebbiolo is another renowned indigenous red grape. It is specially grown in the Piedmont region and is used to make Barolo and Barbaresco, two of the greatest wines produced in Italy. The grape produces wines filled with character, with the aroma and flavour differing depending on the location of the vineyard. The aromas and flavours can include fruits like strawberry, herbs such as mint and anise, earthy tones like mushroom and white truffles, and an array of floral scents.
Barbera was the most widely grown red wine grape in Italy until Sangiovese overtook it around two decades ago. Even with its drop in popularity, it is still celebrated and widely grown in Piedmont and parts of the Italian Peninsula. The grape is unique in that it creates wines that have almost no tannins, so they are typically very refreshing. The low tannins also means that the vivid red fruit flavours are allowed to shine through.
Valpolicella is a very well known wine district in the Veneto region of north-east Italy. The wine produced here is typically a mix of three different grapes; Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella. All three are indigenous to the country and are blended to make many different wines. Valpolicella has experienced a turbulent history, with production and quality problems in the 70s and 80s. However, it is currently popular again, die to the fact that it is so easy to drink and has a bright and tangy finish. Some of the wines have blueberry and banana notes whereas others have the traditional sour cherry note that wines from the north of Italy are famous for.
Red wine lovers have so much to choose from with Italian products thanks to the number of different grapes there are to choose from. If you need some help finding the best examples of wines from wine producing regions of Italy, you can certainly find what you are looking for with us.