We know that many of our guests love Italy for the stunning wines lovingly crafted across the country’s famed regions. We’ve picked five of our favourites to help you decide the location of your next wine-filled wanderings. Salute!
Sardinia generally doesn’t do wide, expansive vineyards – indeed, there weren’t many at all until the second half of the twentieth century. That isn’t to say that the island doesn’t have an ancient tradition of winemaking – farmers, shepherds, and other landowners have tended their own tiny vine plots for centuries. Cannonau is the most commonly grown grape here, a variant of Grenache and known for thriving in the warm and dry conditions that the island provides. These grapes produce full-bodied, fruity red wines that go well with the island’s tangy, herby cuisine that uses a lot of boar and rabbit. The best way to get acquainted with Sardinian wines is to visit one of the many small Cantine across the island, where small winemakers gather to share and sell their vintages.
Villa del Golfo is the perfect base for your winery explorations in Sardinia: they frequently arrange vineyard tours and are a fine luxury retreat to boot.
Tuscany is perhaps Italy’s most famous wine region, thanks to a number of extraordinarily popular wines. Indeed, the distinctive Chianti bottle, or ‘fiaschi’ has become shorthand for ‘rustic Italian charm’ in restaurants across the world. Sangiovese, ‘the blood of Jupiter’, is the grape variety you will see as you drive through miles of rolling, vine covered hills. This grape is used to make Chianti, the fruity, full-bodied most recognisable of Tuscan wines, but it is also the base of both Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino. Head to the walled hill-towns of Montepulciano and Montalcino to try these wonderful wines at an Enoteca, a local wine shop established to showcase the wines of smaller growers.
Castello Banfi di Borgo, Il Falconiere, Il Borro, Vignamaggio and Relais La Corte dei Papi, in addition to being wonderful boutique hotels, also produce their own acclaimed wines – make sure you try the vintages grown on site!
One-third of Italy’s population lives in Milan, Turin and throughout the Po Valley, an ideal region for winemaking. This is thanks to its relatively wide daily temperature range and good soil, perfect for both red and white wines. Nebbiolo is the most popular grape variety throughout Piedmont, closely followed by Barbera and Dolcetto, each producing smooth, smoky, dark cherry-tasting red wines such as Barbaresco, Barbera d’Asti and Barolo. Spumante also stars along the white wines and has become a popular summer tipple worldwide. The smooth reds of Piedmont go extremely well with the rich, hearty and buttery cuisine of the region – indeed, sometimes the local egg pasta is doused in Dolcetto-derived wines just prior to serving.
In the Piedmont region, Villa Crespi (with its Michelin-star restaurant), Castello di Gabbiano and Villa Pattono all provide a wonderful guest experience, and are close to some of the region’s premier wineries.
Sicily has a reputation for producing sweet white and fortified wines like Muscat or Marsala, but in recent years the island has extended its repertoire and is now a producer of a number of red wines using Nero d’Avolo and Grecanico grapes. That’s not to say that you won’t find many wineries on the high volcanic slopes still producing the classic Marsala and Muscato wines, from Catarrato and Moscato grapes respectively. In centuries past, these wines were exported in great quantities not only to the mainland but Greece, Turkey and North Africa as well. The Sicilian cuisine reflects this cultural exchange in its original take on Italian favourites, changing the flavour by adding spices such as clove and nutmeg, and the white wines that are popular here provide a lovely counterpoint.
Locanda Don Serafino, Hotel Villa Carlotta and Hotel Villa Ducale are our picks for excellent boutique accommodation in Sicily, each with spectacular surroundings that showcase the best of the island.
The foothills of the Alps that dominate the region provide the cool, crisp climate needed to produce great white wine. Garganega is a popular grape variety here and it makes up the smooth, crisp Soave family of wines. The world famous Prosecco also originates here, along with its little sister, Frizzante, which is semi-sparkling. Both are produced from the Giera grape. If visiting Venice, make sure you visit Harry’s Bar, the home of the famous Bellini cocktail, which is a delicate blend of Prosecco along with Martini, simple syrup and peaches.
Byblos Art Hotel Villa Amista and Hotel Veronesi La Torre are both near Verona, allowing guests to tour the region’s vineyards with relative ease. In Venice, Ca Maria Adele and Bloom B&B are perfect for a holiday spent sipping Prosecco in one of the city’s squares.
Inspired for some wonderful wine wanderings? Speak with Anna Dixon to set up your next viticultural venture!