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Welcome to Italy
Italy is a huge wine bottle full of wine. From the Alps to the tip of Calabria, Italy has a wide array of climates and soils. In fact Italy produces more varieties of wine than any other country in the world.
The grape varieties are distinctly Italian; many of them are grown nowhere else in the world. While some Italian wines are produced from just one grape variety, many are made from blends of different grapes and produce a wine impossible to duplicate elsewhere.
Italian wine production has shifted from the small farmer to larger companies that have modern facilities comparable to the best in the world. These modern producers vary in size from single estates to very large wineries with extensive vineyards. There are also many cooperatives that group hundreds of small wineries.
Ever since the Wine Law of 1963, Italian wines have experienced a dramatic shift in quality. These laws regulate the characteristics of that wine, from the varieties of grapes used to the terrain to the aging: in fact very little is not regulated. Only about 10% of Italian wines fall into this DOC category- Denominazione di Origine Controllata.
Italy has also gone one step further and created another category: DOCG- reserved for wines of “particular reputation and worth.”
If a bottle carries the DOC label you can be sure:
- that the wine is from the area named;
- that it is produced from the specific proportions of specific grapes and that it has been properly aged;
- that the vineyards have been regulated to limit their maximum production;
- that the vintage year on the bottle is accurate
You can click the tabs above to learn more about various wine regions in Italy.
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Search our current wine tours to Italy.
The Abruzzo is one of the sleeper regions in Italy. Wines from this region have been characteristically mediocre. That is, until 3 winemakers appeared on the scene: Dino Illuminati, Gianni Masciarelli and Francesco Valentini. They have single-handedly put Abruzzo on the wine world radar screen. In the process they have elevated Abruzzo’s two main grapes- Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and Montepulciano- to a status reserved for the traditional varieties. Between them they have garnered all of the tre bicchieri awards of the region.
Besides great wines, the Abruzzo is a beautiful place to visit. A long coastline on the Adriatic provides the seafood that is a perfect match for its Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. And game from the nearby mountains is a wonderful complement for its delicious red wines.
Grapes are grown mostly in the narrow coastal plain of these regions on the Adriatic side of Central Italy. Two grapes, both widely cultivated, make pleasant to outstanding wines. The Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is a pale, very drinkable wine that in the right hands can produce superb results. The white Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is a sharp, medium-bodies wine with a wonderful aroma.
It’s hard to believe that only 20 years ago Barolo was a non- entity on the wine scene. Tremendous progress has brought about a world-wide recognition and today top Barolos command 1st growth prices.
Most people would acknowledge that success can be attributed to one winemaker- Angelo Gaja. He more than any one individual brought Barolo to its current status.
Barolo is much like Burgundy- only one grape is used. In Barolo it’s the Nebbiolo grape. Depending on the winemaker’s style – traditional or modern – Barolos can be enjoyed early or with ageing.
Nearby is the adjacent region of Barbarescos, also produced from the Nebbiolo grape. Alba is the heart of the Barolo region, where in the Fall it also becomes the focus of attention because of its white truffle festival.
Campania and Basilicata: The Jewels of Southern Itay. After experiencing Campania and Basilicata, you’ll wonder why they are so neglected and relatively unknown. But they are appearing on the wine critics’ radar screen and you’ll be in the avant-garde of knowing why these areas have so much potential.
Our 8 full days will cover from the rural and bucolic to the cosmopolitan. We’ll visit villages that rarely get any tourists; we’ll visit 16th century grottos used now for the production of homemade wine; we’ll attend a centuries’ old religious festival in the town of Vin’s grandparents; we’ll visit the top winemakers of Campania and Basilicata with an array of 3 Glass Awards, Italy’s highest. We’ll visit the top four wineries of Feudi di San Gregorio, Terradora, Mastroberardino and Antonio Caggiano.
And less we forget, this is the area of Pompei, the Amalfi coastline and the isle of Capri. When we leave on Saturday July 8, we’re sure that you’ll have the Neapolitan fever and may even want to dance the Tarantella
A wine tour to Sicily also has the bonus of experiencing unique cuisine and ancient Greek ruins. And April is a great time when Sicily is lush with vegetation. I can still recall smelling orange blossoms as we were walking through a Sicilian town.
We’ll tour the entire island, starting in Palermo, the capital, and continuing to the ancient towns of Agrigento, Siracusa and spectacular Taormina, where we may even visit Mt. Etna. Our tour will have 8 full nights in this magical island and you’ll leave having fallen in love with the Sicilians and their cuisine and superb wines.
We’ll be visiting the top wineries and you’ll experience first-hand why Sicilian wines are on the cutting edge. On our last tour we visited Regaleali with lunch, as well as Cottanera and Ceuso. We stopped in Marsala for a visit of Florio Marsala wines.
That’s why we say you’ll get much more than wine on this tour. When we leave on Sunday April 23, you’ll be making plans to return.
If it’s Tuscany you want, it’s Tuscany you’ll get. From the Adriatic to the Mediterrean, we’ll cover Tuscany from coast-to-coast. And if you’re thinking: Wait a minute Vin, Tuscany doesn’t extend to the Adriatic, you’re right! We aren’t rearranging Italian geography. We’re actually going to the Marche region that had a great article about it in the New York Times May 22 Travel Section, titled “Is this the Next Tuscany: A Vanishing Italy stills exists among the hill towns of Le Marche.”
After meeting at the airport in Rome on July 10, we’ll travel to the Adriatic seacoast town of Senigallia, our home base for 3 nights. We’ll visit some of the top producers of Verdicchio and Rosso Conero including Sarterelli, Umani Ronchi and Garofoli as well as a bevy of cultural and culinary experiences.
Then we head to Montecatini Terme for 5 nights from which we explore the traditional Tuscan wine epicenters of Chianti and Brunello as well as the nouveau Tuscan wine region of Bolgheri. In the past we’ve had lunch at Frescobaldi, Castello Banfi and Badia a Coltibuono and visits to such stellar wineries as Felsina and Castello di Ama.