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People are already tiring of Cabernet and Chardonnay and Italy is blessed in that the number of indigenous grapes growing across the country runs to more than one thousand. Local grapes grown in specific types of soil suited to that particular grape is a tradition that goes back thousands of years. Just add regional micro climates and the creativity of the producer and we can hunt down unique and exciting wines.
Here are a just few red varieties to ponder… And a few whites to consider…
Corvina
This is the star of the Veneto region which produces a crimson coloured wine and contributes in large part to Valpolicella, Recioto and Amarone.
Pinot Grigio
This copper coloured grape is a mutation of Pinot Nero and when grown with respect can produce a rich spicy wine with texture and structure.
Dolcetto
In Piedmont this grape produces fragrant and ruby coloured wines that have soft tannins and therefore can allow for reasonably early drinking.
Trebbiano
This is the most widely planted white in Italy, a prolific variety that can produce fresh light whites or fuller richer styles when the yields have been reduced for example in quality Soave.
Nero D’Avola
The best indigenous red grape in Sicily. The wines are ripe and full flavoured almost New World in style, and a fantastic marriage can be a blend with Syrah.
Verdicchio
Native to the Marche region this grape, green tinged even when ripe, produces wines that can be elegant and dry or much richer fuller and creamier in style.
Primitivo
This monster red is widely planted around Salento in Puglia, it is related to the Zinfandel from Califorina. The wines are concentrated rich and spicy.
Prosecco
Very aromatic best known when it is vinified into a Frizzante or a Spumante style. The palate is delicate and floral and it is known for a nose of apples, almonds and wisteria.
Sangiovese
This grape is widely cultivated across Italy and can produce every day wines or great wines depending on the age of the vine, the location etc. think Brunello di Montalcino, Morellino di Scansano, Chianti.
Grillo
This is a native to western Sicily near Alcamo, it produces a light lemony wine that has a reasonable acidity and from older vines can produce really concentrated, complex wines.
Montepulciano
This is the second most widely planted grape in Italy, this is a native Tuscan variety and produces wines which are elegant and well balanced.
Malvasia
This is another of Italy’s aromatic floral whites, delicate on the palate but can also be well structured and full of flavour which makes it great with Italian food.
Lacrima di Morro D’Alba
Little known and little planted but produces fragrant rose petal wines from the Marche region that have ripe fruit and are well balanced with good acidity due to the cooling sea breezes.
Inzolia
Another native of Sicily where it is widely planted and produces dry, ripe and aromatic wines. It manages to have good acidity even in this warm climate often due to early picking.

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