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Makes nearly as much wine as France, but lags behind in their classification system. As a result, Italian wine isn’t taken as seriously as French wine. Most Italian wine is made from native grape varieties that don’t grow well elsewhere, such as Nebbiolo and Sangiovese. The most important regions are Piedmont, where Barolo and Barbaresco dominate, Tuscany, home to Chianti, Montepulciano, and the Super-Tuscans (a collection of relatively new reds), and the Northeastern region, where you’ll find Soave, Valpolicella, and Bardolino. Italy’s soils and climates are varied and ideally suited for viticulture, from the Alpine foothills in the north to the Mediterranean coast in the South. Its hilly landscape provides sun and cooler temperatures, even in the warmest regions. Italy has two categories of fine wines. DOCG, which means regulated and guaranteed place name, refers to a small group of elite wines. DOB wines are those with regulated (but not guaranteed) place names. A lower tier of table wines are grouped into IGT wines, which indicate the location on the label, and ordinary table wines, which carry no geographical indication except, “Italy.”
Located in the northwest cuff of the “boot,” Piedmont is home to the famous Nebbiolo grape. Barolo and Barbaresco, two of the world’s great red wines, are made from Nebbiolo grapes in the Langhe hills around Alba. Both are DOCG wines named after the village in which it is produced. Less expensive red wines include Dolcetta, Barbera, and softer versions of Nebbiolo. White wines are less well known in Piedmont, but two interesting whites are Gavi, which is dry and fairly acidic, and Arneis, a medium-dry wine with a rich texture.
(A.K.A. Muscat, Moscato di Canelli) Moscato Bianco is one of the oldest white varietals in all of Italy. Bright, fragrant, and un-faded with a lingering finish, this white has stood the test of time.
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