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Native Wine Grapes of Italy

Native Wine Grapes of Italy

Ian D’Agata
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 640
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  • Book Info
    Native Wine Grapes of Italy
    Book Description:

    Mountainous terrain, volcanic soils, innumerable microclimates, and an ancient culture of winemaking influenced by Greeks, Phoenicians, and Romans make Italy the most diverse country in the world of wine. This diversity is reflected in the fact that Italy grows the largest number of native wine grapes known, amounting to more than a quarter of the world's commercial wine grape types. Ian D'Agata spent thirteen years interviewing producers, walking vineyards, studying available research, and tasting wines to create this authoritative guide to Italy's native grapes and their wines. Writing with great enthusiasm and deep knowledge, D'Agata discusses more than five hundred different native Italian grape varieties, from Aglianico to Zibibbo.D'Agata provides details about how wine grapes are identified and classified, what clones are available, which soils are ideal, and what genetic evidence tells us about a variety's parentage. He gives historical and anecdotal accounts of each grape variety and describes the characteristics of wines made from the grape. A regional list of varieties and a list of the best producers provide additional guidance. Comprehensive, thoroughly researched, and engaging, this book is the perfect companion for anyone who wants to know more about the vast enological treasures cultivated in Italy.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95705-3
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. Map of Italy’s Wine Regions
    (pp. xiii-xiii)
    (pp. xiv-xvi)
    (pp. 1-12)

    Italy has by far the largest number of grape varieties from which to make wine. Even more than the blessing of ideal microclimates and geologically diverse soils, this rich biodiversity is the single greatest winemaking asset Italian producers share. Anna Schneider, one of Italy’s most famous and best ampelologists, estimated that there were roughly two thousand native grape cultivars (that is, cultivated grape varieties) in Italy as recently as 2006, but that impressive number depends upon who’s counting. Stoically attached to their grapes, Italians don’t look kindly on foreigners (or even Italians) who tell them that one of their cherished...

  7. PART I Grape Varieties:: What, Where, When, Why, and How

      (pp. 15-24)

      The first time I met one of the world’s most famous wine experts, now many years ago, it took me all of two minutes to say something wrong. Jean-Claude Berrouet, for over forty years the head of winemaking at J.P. Moueix (the venerable Frenchnégociantfirm that produces and sells legendary wines such as Petrus, Trotanoy, Magdelaine, and California’s Dominus), stopped in mid-conversation, smiled, and pointed out I had used an incorrect term. That pernicious term was ampelography.

      Ampelography is the science of vine description and classification based on observation and pictorial illustration of grapevines—and strictly speaking, nothing more....

    • TWO The Origin of Viticulture and a Brief History of Italy’s Grape Varieties
      (pp. 25-46)

      The grapevine, a climbing plant much like ivy, belongs to the botanical order Rhamnales, family Vitaceae, which is divided into two subfamilies, Leicodeae and Ampelideae. The latter is divided into five genera:Ampelopsis, Cissus, Parthenocissus, Ampelocissus,andVitis.The first four include species of vines that are used mainly for ornamental purposes, and only the genusVitis,which is further divided into the subgeneraMuscadiniaandEuvites,is relevant to wine drinkers. According to Fregoni, these two subgenera contain roughly seventy different species of grapevine (roughly forty of Eurasian origin, and thirty American), characterized by varying degrees of temperature, disease,...

  8. PART II Italy’s Native and Traditional Grape Varieties and Wines

    • THREE Grape Groups and Families
      (pp. 49-157)

      The following groups and families include some of Italy’s best-known grapes, hence its best-known wines. You will easily recognize the grapes within each group or family (for example Greco, Greco Giallo, and Greco Nero): these cultivars share the same basic name because they were thought to be related. In fact, these century-old assumptions are, more often than not, erroneous: thanks to ongoing advances in DNA profiling, we have very recently learned that some of these similarly named grapes are completely unrelated. However, for simplicity’s sake I have chosen to leave them grouped together, so in this book you’ll find all...

    • FOUR Major Native and Traditional Grape Varieties
      (pp. 158-479)

      For the purposes of this book, I have defined Italy’s major native and traditional grapes as those that are generally recognized as the country’s best known. For the most part, these grapes have been well studied and described for centuries, are characterized genetically, and are turned into monovarietal wine and sold to the public by at least one estate. Practically all are listed in the National Registry. Since having fun with wine and tasting the many different offerings Italy has in store for us is our ultimate goal, these grape varieties are common enough for you to find their wines...

    • FIVE Little-Known Native and Traditional Grape Varieties
      (pp. 480-537)

      In many books and articles (both scholarly and not) devoted to the subject of native cultivars, and even in everyday wine tastings and discussions, Italy’s “other native grapes” are often referred to as “minor grape varieties.” I think this is a shame, but “rare grape varieties” isn’t much better. I prefer to refer to these grapes as “little-known” cultivars, in an effort not to stress their scarcity and thereby put them at a disadvantage with respect to better-known varieties. As long as we continue to view cultivars that are not widely grown as “minor,” we will inadvertently continue to damage...

    • SIX Crossings
      (pp. 538-548)

      Not all the wines we drink are made from naturally occurringVitis viniferagrapevines. Some are born in laboratories thanks to the ingenuity of men and women all over the world who try to create,ex novo,varieties that they hope will improve on the original set of parents. A crossing occurs between two varieties of the same species, while a hybrid is obtained by crossing members of different species (in the case of grapevines, this means crossing aviniferawith another vine species such asrupestrisorriparia). In nature, hybrids rarely survive and are often sterile, a mechanism...

    (pp. 549-566)
    (pp. 567-570)
    (pp. 571-592)
    (pp. 593-610)
    (pp. 611-620)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 621-621)