Das italienische Weindepot

Blog: Autochthonous grape varieties of Italy 1/4 | Expertise

In terms of the diversity of its grape varieties, Italy is one of the richest countries in the world. Around 350 well-known varieties grow in its vineyards. Some of them are world famous: Nebbiolo and Sangiovese, for example. They are used to produce the great red wines of Piedmont and Tuscany. Others have only regional or local importance. Another 330 grape varieties known by name exist only as genetic material in gene banks. Finally, there are an estimated 1200 varieties that have not even been cataloged because only individual vines of them still exist. Italy therefore has a great treasure trove of vines. Exploring it will be the challenge of the next decades.

Almost half of the 350 known varieties currently no longer have any commercial importance. As a result of the progressive spread of international varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon - also in Italy - they are now only present in small quantities. Many are struggling to survive. That's why vine researchers, politicians and winery owners are concerned about their country's 'ampelographic heritage,' according to Giuseppe Martelli, president of the Association of Italian Oenologists and Cellar Technicians (Assoenologi). Preserving and researching the vineyard treasure is a high priority in the world's second-largest wine-producing country. Several governmental and private projects have been initiated to preserve the old autochthonous vines and to study them for their qualitative potential. The goal: to select the high quality varieties in order to promote more wines with reference to their origin, history, culture, and to be able to distinguish themselves from countless anonymous wines that today come mainly from Eastern European and overseas countries. 'Consumers expect wine to have a territorial identity,' Martelli formulates programmatically. After all, it is red wines from varieties such as Aglianico and Nero d'Avola from southern Italy, such as Sagrantino from Umbria, or such as South Tyrolean Lagrein that are already setting unmistakable accents in the wine world today. And Italy also has high-class, imitable white wines in its range, such as Greco, Fiano and Falanghina from Campania or Friulano (Tocai) and Ribolla from Friuli. Martelli: 'We are already noticing that the international markets are honoring Italy's efforts to produce high-quality wines from its own autochthonous grape varieties.

"I am firmly convinced that great wines can be made from many Italian grape varieties that are still unknown." - Stefano Chioccioli, Agronomist

What is the reason for the success of international varieties? Of course, the successful international varieties have also gained a foothold in Italy's vineyards in recent decades, displacing many native vines. The Merlot grape variety in particular enjoys great popularity among winemakers in almost all Italian regions. It promises to deliver wines of international stature, catering to the taste preferences of many wine lovers worldwide. The red Syrah and the white Sauvignon grape have also conquered the vineyards in many regions, while Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, after a stormy advance, now seem to have reached their limits and are declining again. What is the basis of the success of these (and a dozen other) international varieties? Thanks to scientific research into their DNA and precise clonal selection, they possess characteristics that can guarantee that they produce high quality wines even outside their native areas. Italy is still a long way from this state. Only a few of its numerous autochthonous varieties have been precisely researched, homologated (studied for genetic similarities) and selected. - Gerardo

Autochthone Rebsorten Italiens 1/4 Fachwissen

NameAutochthonous Grape Varieties Of Italy 1/4