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Indicazione Geografica Tipica

Wine quality level (IGT); see under Italy.

The Republic of Italy in southern Europe with its capital Rome covers 301,338 km². Most of the national territory is located on the Apennine Peninsula, which is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea, and the adjacent northern Italian lowlands. It also includes the large islands of Sicily and Sardinia, as well as several smaller and larger island groups such as the Lipari Islands to the north of Sicily and the Cyclops Islands to the east in the Ionian Sea, the Egadi Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Pelagic Islands between Tunisia, Malta and Sicily and Pantelleria to the south-west of Sicily.

The majority of the Italian islands belong to the Veneto region and are mainly located off the mainland of Venice. There are land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia as well as the two small states of Vatican City and San Marino, which are completely enclosed by Italian territory as enclaves. Viticulture is practised from north to south in all regions of the mainland, but also on most of the islands mentioned.

Italien - Karte

History

Italy is one of the oldest wine-growing countries, with beginnings dating back to at least 1,000 BC. At this time, the Etruscans appeared in central Italy and colonised areas of the four present-day regions of Abruzzo, Lazio, Tuscany and Umbria. The origins of Italian wine culture lie primarily in Greek colonisation, which brought Greek viticultural culture to the peninsula in the 10th century BC, starting on the island of Sicily, Campania and Calabria. The Greeks brought many of their grape varieties with them and named the land ideal for viticulture Oinotria (land of vines grown on stakes). The Phoenicians (Punic), who later became a major enemy and established bases in Sicily and the Mediterranean, also exerted an influence at this time. From the 6th century BC, lively trade began with the Celts in Gaul (France), who imported considerable quantities of wine from northern and central Italy.

Italien - Ausbruch des Vesuv Pompeji und Amphoren aus Apulien

Influencing European viticulture

The Romans willingly learnt from all these peoples and brought viticulture and winemaking to a high level of art and prosperity. In the 3rd century BC, the vine was widespread throughout the peninsula and in the 1st century BC, wine culture reached its peak. The city of Pompeii was the wine trading centre and main supplier for Rome until its destruction by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 BC. The most famous ancient wines at this time included Caecuber, Falerner, Raeticum and Surrentiner. The Romans planted vineyards in the newly acquired provinces in what are now France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria and England. Wine became an import and export item and the Romans were already making wooden barrels for it, having learnt this from the Celts (Gauls).

Roman wine authors

Many Roman authors wrote very extensive works about viticulture and wine culture in the Teril, thus providing a very accurate picture. The spectrum ranges from purely scientific (didactic) writings to poetic descriptions and descriptions of the eating and drinking culture. The Satyricon, a portrait of the manners of the Roman upper class, deserves special mention. The most important authors in chronological order are Cato the Elder (234-149 BC), Virgil (70-19 BC), Horace (65-8 BC), Ovid (43 BC to 8 AD), Columella (1st half of the 1st century), Petronius (14-66), Pliny the Elder (23-79) and Palladius (4th century). Wine became a cultural medium of the first rank, and in continuation of the Greek cult of Dionysus, the god of wine Bacchus enjoyed great veneration. The Romans were very creative when it came to winemaking techniques. One speciality was flavouring to make the wine tastier and more durable.

Roman winemaking techniques

Sparkling wine was already being produced by storing amphorae in cold spring water (interrupting fermentation). In the first century AD, people were intensively involved in breeding grape varieties and tried to find the most suitable vine for the respective soil. Pliny recognised that it was primarily the area and the soil, i.e. the origin and the terroir according to today's nomenclature, that determine the quality of the wine and that, for example, Uva Rhetica (variety for the Raeticum) does not produce good wine outside its growing area, but only produces quantity.

Single-varietal cultivation and ageing was recommended in order to better assess the varieties. Many of today's autochthonous vines are descended from the ancient grape varieties cultivated at that time. Due to the collapse of the Roman Empire in the 5th century and the turmoil of the migration of peoples, wine culture fell into oblivion and was only cultivated by monasteries of the Roman Catholic Church through the production of mass wine.

Middle Ages

There was a great upswing at the beginning of the Renaissance in the 14th century. In order to revitalise viticulture, Pope Paul III (1468-1549) banned French wine and had surveys of Italian wine drawn up. As early as 1716, under Grand Duke Cosimo III (1642-1723) of the Medici dynasty, the zone for Chianti was established in Tuscany, making Italy one of the first countries with a designation of origin. However, it was not until the 19th century, when wine types such as Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti were created with French help, that a new beginning was made.

Wine-growing regions

The soils are characterised by great diversity, but the climate has common influencing factors despite local differences. The Alps shield against cold northerly winds, while the Apennines form a 1,500 kilometre-long weather divide from Piedmont in the north to Sicily in the south. The Mediterranean Sea to the east and the Tyrrhenian Sea to the west of the boot as well as the numerous rivers and lakes have a decisive influence. The best regions have temperatures between 12 and 16 °C, sufficient snow and rainfall in winter and warm to hot summers with sunshine until late autumn. The vineyards are planted at altitudes of up to 1,000 metres above sea level. The 20 wine-growing regions coincide with the political regional borders:

Region (German)

Region (Italian)

Capital city

hectares

Abruzzo Abruzzo L'Aquila 33.000
Valle d'Aosta Valle d'Aosta Aosta 500
Apulia Puglia Bari 88.000
Basilicata Basilicata or Lucania Potenza 2.000
Emilia-Romagna Emilia-Romagna Bologna 53.500
Friuli-Venezia Giulia Friuli-Venezia Giulia Trieste 27.000
Calabria Calabria Catanzaro 8.900
Campania Campania Napoli 25.600
Lazio Latio Roma 20.500
Liguria Liguria Genoa 1.650
Lombardy Lombardy Milan 24.700
Marche Marche Ancona 16.000
Molise Molise Campobasso 5.400
Piedmont Piemonte Torino 44.000
Sardinia Sardegna formerly Tinakria Cagliari 26.700
Sicily Sicily Palermo 119.000
Tuscany Tuscany Firenze 60.500
Trentino-Alto Adige Trentino-Alto Adige Trento 15.500
Umbria Umbria Perugia 12.500
Veneto Veneto Venezia 96.400

Grape varieties and vineyards

Wine is grown from the north of the country (Trentino-Alto Adige) to the far south (Sicily) and on the islands in the Mediterranean. However, the more than 400 DOC and DOCG zones only account for around a fifth of wine production. There are around two million grape producers, 340,000 cellars and 45,000 wine bottlers. At the beginning of the 1990s, the area under vines was still over one million hectares, which was reduced by around 200,000 hectares due to EU grubbing-up programmes.

In 2022, the vineyards covered 718,198 hectares and the wine production volume was 49.8 million hectolitres. This puts Italy among the absolute leaders worldwide. With over 2,000 grape varieties, Italy has the most in the world, many of which are of ancient (Greek) origin....

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Prof. Dr. Walter Kutscher

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