Chianti

Chianti: world-class wines

Chianti stands shoulder to shoulder with the world's greatest wine regions, both in terms of history and the outstanding quality in the glass.

Wines by region

Wine map of Italy
North west italian wines

North-west Italian wines

Famous for fashion, truffles and fine wines, north-west Italy’s famous names include Barolo, Barbaresco, Gavi and Franciacorta.

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North East italian wines

North-east Italian wines

Exporting more wine than the rest of Italy combined, the region is home to popular favourites Valpolicella, Prosecco and Soave.

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Central italian wines

Central Italian wines

The historical centre of Italian winemaking. The sangiovese grape is planted here along with montepulciano, verdicchio and more.

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Southern Italy wines

Southern Italian wines

There's a huge array of grape varieties in Italy's south, including aglianico, negroamaro and primitivo for reds, and grillo and falanghina for whites.

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Italy top to toe: a regional guide

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Buyer for Italy Sarah Knowles MW gives us a quick intro to the varied wines of Italy, highlighting what makes it such an exciting country. Video transcript

Video transcript

Hi, I'm Sarah Knowles. I'm one of the buyers at The Wine Society and I'm lucky enough to be the buyer for Italy.

Italy is an amazing country to buy wines from because of the sheer variety that there is.

It's an amazing country that's divided by so many different geographical elements, with the Alps to the north and the Dolomites running down through the centre to the volcanoes of the south, that creates, in turn, lots of different terroirs and vineyard spaces for different varieties to grow and to really find their home.

So Italy can be seen as quite complex, but I hope that in this I can make some generalisations.

It's not to suggest that all the wines taste the same, but it is to say that you can take the worry out of it.

Don't worry about the grape varieties or the different names of towns.

Just enjoy some of these wines.

The white wines of Italy are on form at the moment.

There's never been a better time to buy these fantastic great-value wines.

Really, you can generalise them into three different camps.

Northern Italian white wines will be crisper, fresher, brighter, more linear in style and perhaps a little less aromatic.

Central Italian white wines tend to be a little bit more full-bodied.

They're medium, they're still quite powerful wines.

They have a little bit more aroma to them.

And from the south, you tend to get these very characterful wines that have more apricot and peach flavours.

They're a bit riper and they tend to be quite soft and go really well with food.

So to the north, things like pinot grigio, garganega, which makes Soave, and cortese, that makes Gavi.

In the centre, you'll have things like vernaccia and verdicchio.

Both of those are perfect with seafood.

In the south you get varieties like fiano, greco, grillo from Sicily.

All of these beautiful white wines have a bit more richness to them and they are perfect with some of the vegetables and salads that really thrive in that area of Italy as well.

The red wines of Italy can also be generalised to some extent.

In the north, you've got a lot of great red wines that really have a redcurrant character.

Redcurrant, red cherries, red fruit, berries, a very sour tart note.

Also high acidity and high tannin levels.

The grape variety that's known most especially is nebbiolo.

Nebbiolo is the grape variety that makes Barolo, Barbaresco and many others.

It's fantastic for ageing and a real fine wine.

On the eastern side, there's corvina, which makes Valpolicella, which we made in two very different styles.

In a light style, Valpolicella, or in a very rich style called Amarone.

In central Italy, sangiovese becomes king.

It's where Chianti really comes to the fore in Tuscany.

That's also the grape variety used in Brunello and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

And then we go across into Umbria, where sangiovese is also still planted.

Sangiovese tends to have much more red-fruit flavours with some leather and spice, still quite tannic, great with food.

Think of a classic T-bone steak from Florence.

Slightly further south and more to the east, we get montepulciano coming in, which again has some of these lovely red-berry fruit flavours, but slightly lower tannin levels.

It's a softer wine. It's great with things like pizza and pasta.

It's a really easy go-to wine.

In the south of Italy, the wines become much denser and fuller.

They've got more black-fruit characters and in Puglia and the south on the eastern side, we've got primitivo and negroamaro coming to the fore.

They're fantastic wines for everyday drinking and some of the best wines can age perfectly.

In Sicily and in southern Campania we have things like nero d’Avola and aglianico.

Really lovely blueberry fruit flavours, blackcurrant and plum.

These are generous wines that are fantastic to try and something to get excited by.

Italy produces some great sparkling wines too.

And of course, leading the pack is Prosecco.

It's actually a very beautiful volcanic area that's UNESCO world-recognised, producing gorgeous sparkling wines at different price points that I hope you enjoy.

Other sparkling wines, especially now traditional-method sparkling wines are starting to come to the fore in Italy.

Look out for Franciacortas and Alta Langas that will be coming to members soon.

We also have the oddity Lambrusco, a wonderful traditional sparkling red wine that's just perfect with the local cuisine, a bolognese.

I really hope that this simple guide encourages you to try various different grapes from Italy.

It's a country that I love and creates some fantastic wines at multiple price points, and I think they're particularly unique.

They also brilliantly go with food, cook up one of your favourites and try it with something new.

For more information, head online.

Within the Learn and Discovery section, there is an ultimate guide to Italian wine regions, as well as many articles and recipes.

I hope you enjoy something Italian soon.

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