• Imagine, if you will, hunting a tyrannosaurus rex with a Nerf gun.

    There you are sitting in a tree you climbed, scoping for the illusive T-Rex. There are myriad raptors in the jungle doing their thing, but you’re holding out for the big guy. After hours of waiting, a cacophony of sound erupts from the floor below. Dinosaurs were running from something, and they were running fast. Tremors start shaking the tree, and they’re getting bigger. It’s heading right for you! You see trees getting pushed aside, and your heart is racing like a maniac.

    Then POW! You are staring face to face with a giant eyeball. It pauses just long enough for you to level off your Nerf rifle and fire…

    *Boink*

     

    T-rex

     

    That’s about what it’s like trying to know everything there is to know about Italian wine. With over 350 government approved varietals for producing wine and more than a million vineyards, it comes in as the largest wine producing region in the world. The island of Sicilia alone produces more wine than all of Australia. There are 20 main wine regions, over 330 DOCs, and 73 DOCGs.

    Side note: DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata which are similar to our AVAs American Viticultural Areas. The DOCG adds ‘e Garantita’ to the title, which means it’s guaranteed to follow very particular wine rules. They must also be a historically significant wine region.

     

    That’s insane…

    Seriously if I had to choose between trying to memorize all of that or hunting a T-Rex with a Nerf rifle. I would sling that rifle over my back and start hiking to the jungle (at least then I’d get to see a T-Rex for a hot second).

    That said, right now I’m only going to go over the six DOCGs from Toscana (in American speak it’s Tuscany, and yes I said 7 DOCGs in the title).  Toscana is located in the northeast of Italy, below the lip of the boot. Liguria is to the west, Emilia-Romagna to the north, Marche to the east, Umbria to the southeast, and Lazio to the south.

     

    In alphabetical order:

    Brunello di Montalcino is a red made from Sangiovese Grosso, which is a larger grape clone of Sangiovese. The climate is much drier and hotter than the Chianti region to the north. This gives Brunellos their muscle. The DOCG law requires a minimum of two years in oak and 4 months aging in the bottle and a total of 4 years altogether (Riserva wines need a minimum of 6 months in bottle with 5 years total age).

    They are complex full bodied, tannic wines with blackberry, black cherry, and plum both in the palate and the aromatics.

     

    Carmignano is a red wine region just a short distance from Florence that uses many varietals. The DOCG law requires a minimum of 50% Sangiovese, but then you have a variety of grapes to choose from for the other 50%, including Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Canaiolo Nero and the Blanco version as well to name a few. A minimum of two years before release with 8 months barrel age (12 for Riserva).

    Because of the wide range of grape blending options the finished product varies quite a bit, but you should be able to pick out some strawberry and spice on the palate.

     

    Chianti is what most people think of first when they consider Italian wine. Southeast of Carmignano and north of Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti is in the heart of Toscana. With a minimum of 75% Sangiovese, it can also be blended with other approved grape varietals such as Canaiolo Nero, Trebbiano Toscana and Malvasia del Chianti. Only since 1995 has Chianti been allowed to use 100% Sangiovese if they so desire. About a year minimum age with two on the Riserva, allows Chianti producers to make young wine with a very wide range of quality.

    Anywhere from light to full bodied, fruit forward to lean and acid driven, Chianti is a varied wine. Generally one will find strawberry and floral components on the nose, with strawberry, plum and spice on the palate.

     

    Chianti Classico is Chianti’s elitist brother. The Classico region lies in the middle of Chianti, and has stricter rules than Chianti. A minimum of 80% Sangiovese is required, and an extra three months age on the Riserva. The Chianti Classico Consorzio (consortium) even has specific ‘suggestions’ on how you should store and consume your wine.

     

    Vernaccia di San Gimignano is both the region and the white grape varietal used, with up to 10% of approved non-aromatic white wine added. It is located west of Chianti Classico. The Riserva requires a minimum of 16 months age which is atypical of white wines.

    Dry and crisp it exhibits citrus, mineral, and a hint of bitterness on the finish.

     

    Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is located east of Montalcino, and requires a minimum of 70% Sangiovese (Prugnolo gentile as the locals call this particular clone). If it’s a Riserva then 3 years of aging is required, two if it’s not. They have been celebrated as some of Toscana’s best wine, and yet typically cost half as much as Brunello.

    Like Brunello, it has dark cherry and plum in the aromas and the palate as well as firm tannins. Given the tannins and the strong acid component, these wines can lay down for quite some time.

     

    And just for kicks I’ve included Wikipedia’s list of Italian grape varieties (T-Rex hunting)

    Grape                                          Color    Region

    Abbuoto Red Lazio
    Abrusco Red Tuscany
    Acitana Red Sicily
    Addoraca White Calabria
    Aglianico Red Basilicata and Campania
    Aglianicone Red Basilicata and Campania
    Albana White Emilia-Romagna
    Albanella White Marche
    Albanello White Sicily
    Albaranzeuli bianco White Sardinia
    Albaranzeuli nero Red Sardinia
    Albarola White Liguria
    Albarossa Red Veneto
    Aleatico Red Puglia and Lazio
    Alionza White Emilia-Romagna
    Ancellotta Red Emilia-Romagna
    Arilla White Campania
    Arneis White Piedmont
    Arvesiniadu White Sardinia
    Avanà Red Piedmont
    Avarengo Red Piedmont
    Baratuciat White Piedmont
    Barbarossa Red Liguria and Piedmont
    Barbera Red Piedmont
    Barbera bianca White Piedmont
    Barbera del Sannio Red Campania
    Barbera Sarda Red Sardinia
    Bariadorgia White Sardinia
    Barsaglina Red Tuscany and Liguria
    Bellone Red Lazio
    Besgano bianco White Emilia-Romagna
    Biancame White Marche and Emilia-Romagna
    Bianchetta Trevigiana
    Bianco d’Alessano
    Biancolella White Campania
    Biacone di Portoferraio
    Bigolona
    Blatterle
    Bombino bianco White Puglia
    Bombino nero Red Puglia, Basilicata, Lazio and Sardinia
    Bonamico
    Bonarda Piemontese Red Piedmont
    Bonda
    Bosco White Liguria
    Bracciola nera Red Liguria and Tuscany
    Brachetto Red Piedmont
    Brugnola Red Lombardy
    Brustiano bianco White Sardinia
    Bubbierasco
    Bussanello
    Cacamosa
    Caddiu
    Calabrese di Montenuovo
    Caloria
    Canaiolo nero Red Tuscany, Lazio, Marche, Sardinia
    Cannamela
    Caprettone White Campania
    Cargarello
    Carica l’Asino
    Carricante
    Casavecchia
    Cascarolo bianco White Piedmont
    Casetta
    Castagnara
    Castiglione
    Catalanesca
    Catanese nero Red Sicily
    Catarratto bianco White Sicily
    Cavrara
    Centesimino
    Cerreto
    Cesanese Red Lazio
    Cianorie
    Ciliegiolo Red Tuscany and Umbria
    Ciurlese
    Cividin
    Cococciola White Abruzzo
    Coda di Cavallo bianca
    Coda di Pecora White Campania
    Coda di Volpe bianca White Campania
    Colombana nera Red Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany
    Colorino Red Tuscany
    Cordenossa
    Cornalin Red Aosta Valley
    Cornarea
    Cortese White Piedmont
    Corva
    Corvina Veronese Red Veneto
    Corvinone
    Croatina Red Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna
    Crovassa
    Damaschino
    Dindarella
    Dolcetto Red Piedmont
    Dolciame
    Dorona di Venezia
    Doux d’Henry
    Drupeggio White Tuscany and Umbria
    Durella White Veneto
    Enantio
    Erbaluce White Piedmont
    Erbamat
    Ervi
    Falanghina Beneventana
    Falanghina White Campania
    Fenile
    Fertilia
    Fiano White Campania
    Flavis
    Fogarina
    Foglia Tonda
    Forastera White Campania
    Forgiarin
    Forsellina
    Fortana Red Emilia-Romagna
    Francavidda
    Frappato Red Sicily
    Frauler
    Freisa Red Piedmont
    Friulano White Veneto
    Fubiano
    Fumin Red Aosta Valley
    Gaglioppo Red Calabria
    Galatena
    Gallioppo delle Marche
    Gallizzone
    Gamba di Pernice
    Garganega White Veneto
    Ginestra
    Girò Red Sardinia
    Glera White Veneto
    Grapariol
    Grechetto White Umbria
    Greco bianco White Campania and Puglia
    Greco nero Red Calabria
    Greco nero di Sibari
    Greco nero di Verbicaro
    Grignolino Red Piedmont
    Grillo White Sicily
    Grisa nera Red Piedmont
    Groppello di Mocasina
    Groppello di Revò
    Groppell di Gentile
    Gruaja
    Guardavalle
    Impigno
    Incrocio bianco Fedit 51
    Incrocio Bruni 54
    Incrocio Manzoni 2.15 Red Veneto
    Incrocio Terzi 1
    Invernenga
    Inzolia White Sicily
    Italia White Lombardy
    Italica
    Lacrima Red Marche
    Lagarino bianco White Trentino
    Lagrein Red Trentino
    Lambrusca di Alessandria
    Lambrusca Vittona
    Lambruschetto
    Lambrusco Barghi
    Lambrusco di Fiorano
    Lambrusco di Sorbara Red Emilia-Romagna
    Lambrusco Grasparossa
    Lambrusco Maestri
    Lambrusco Marani
    Lambrusco Montericco
    Lambrusco Oliva
    Lambrusco Salamino
    Lambrusco Viadanese
    Lanzesa
    Luglienga White Piedmont
    Lumassina
    Maceratino White Marche
    Magliocco Canino Red Calabria
    Magliocco Dolce Red Calabria
    Maiolica
    Maiolina
    Malbo Gentile
    Maligia
    Malvasia bianca di Basilicata
    Malvasia bianca di Candia
    Malvasia bianca di Piemonte
    Malvasia bianca Lunga
    Malvasia del Lazio
    Malvasia di Candia Aromatica
    Malvasia di Casorzo
    Malvasia di Lipari
    Malvasia di Schierano
    Malvasia nera di Basilicata
    Malvasia nera di Brindisi
    Malvasia nera Lunga
    Mammolo Red Tuscany
    Mantonico bianco White Calabria
    Manzoni bianco White Veneto
    Manzoni Moscato Red Veneto
    Manzoni rosa Pink Veneto
    Marchione
    Maruggio
    Marzemina bianca White Veneto
    Marzemino Red Trentino
    Mayolet
    Mazzese
    Melara
    Minella bianca White Sicily
    Minutolo
    Molinara Red Veneto
    Monica nera Red Sardinia
    Montepulciano Red Abruzzo, Umbria, Marche, Lazio, Puglia and Molise
    Montonico bianco White Calabria
    Montù White Emilia-Romagna
    Moradella
    Morone
    Moscatello Selvatico
    Moscato di Scanzo
    Moscato di Terracina
    Moscato Giallo
    Moscato rosa del Trentino
    Mostosa
    Muscat blanc à Petits Grains White Piedmont
    Nascetta
    Nasco White Sardinia
    Nebbiera
    Nebbiolo Red Piedmont and Lombardy
    Nebbiolo rosé
    Negrara Trentina
    Negrara Veronese Red Veneto
    Negretto
    Negroamaro Red Puglia
    Ner d’Ala
    Nerello Cappuccio
    Nerello Mascalese
    Neret di Saint-Vincent
    Neretta Cuneese
    Neretto di Bairo
    Neretto Duro
    Neretto Gentile
    Neretto Nostrano
    Nero Buono di Cori
    Nero d’Avola Red Sicily
    Nero di Troia
    Nieddera
    Nigra
    Nocera
    Nosiola White Trentino
    Notardomenico
    Nuragus White Sardinia
    Ortrugo White Emilia-Romagna
    Oseleta
    Pallagrello bianco White Campania
    Pallagrello nero Red Campania
    Pampanuto White Puglia
    Paolina
    Pascale Red Sardinia
    Passau
    Passerina White Marche
    Pavana
    Pecorino White Abruzzo, Marche, Umbria, Lazio, Tuscany and Liguria
    Pelaverga Red Piedmont
    Peleverga Piccolo
    Pepella
    Perera
    Perricone Red Sicily
    Petit Rouge Red Aosta Valley
    Piccola nera Red Friuli-Venezia Giulia
    Picolit White Friuli-Venezia Giulia
    Piculit Neri
    Piedirosso Red Campania
    Pignola Valtellinese
    Pignoletto
    Pignolo Red Friuli-Venezia Giulia
    Pinella
    Plassa Red Piedmont
    Pollera nera Red Liguria
    Prié White Aosta Valley
    Primetta
    Prodest
    Prosecco Lungo
    Prunesta
    Pugnitello
    Quagliano
    Raboso Piave Red Veneto
    Raboso Veronese
    Raspirosso
    Rastajola
    Rebo
    Recantina
    Refosco dal Peduncolo rosso Red Friuli-Venezia Giulia
    Refosco di Faedis
    Retagliado bianco White Sardinia
    Ribolla Gialla White Friuli-Venezia Giulia
    Ripolo
    Rollo
    Rondinella Red Veneto
    Rossara Trentina
    Rossese bianco White Piedmont
    Rossese bianco di Monforte
    Rossese bianco di Biagio
    Rossese di Campochiesa
    Rossetto
    Rossignola Red Veneto
    Rossola nera Red Lombardy
    Rossolino nero Red Lombardy
    Roussin
    Rovello bianco White Campania
    Ruchè
    Ruggine
    Ruzzese
    Sabato
    Sagrantino Red Umbria
    San Giuseppe nero Red Lazio
    San Lunardo
    San Martino
    San Michele
    San Pietro
    Sangiovese Red Tuscany, Lazio, Emilia-Romagna, Umbria, Marche
    Sant’Antonio
    Santa Maria
    Santa Sofia
    Schiava Gentile
    Schiava Grigia
    Schiava Grossa Red Trentino
    Schiava Lombarda
    Schioppettino Red Friuli-Venezia Giulia
    Sciaglìn
    Sciascinoso Red Campania
    Scimiscià
    Semidano
    Sgavetta
    Soperga
    Sorbigno
    Spergola
    Suppezza
    Susumaniello Red Puglia
    Tamurro
    Tazzelenghe Red Friuli-Venezia Giulia
    Termarina rossa Red Emilia-Romagna
    Teroldego Red Trentino
    Terrano Red Friuli-Venezia Giulia
    Tignolino
    Timorasso White Piedmont
    Tintilia del Molise Red Molise
    Tintore di Tramonti
    Torbato White Sardinia
    Trebbiano d’Abruzzo
    Trebbiano Giallo
    Trebbiano Modenese
    Trebbiano Romagnolo
    Trebbiano Spoletino
    Trebbiano Toscano
    Trebbiano nera
    T-Rex
    Ucelùt
    Uva della Cascina
    Uva Longanesi
    Uva Rara Red Piedmont and Lombardy
    Uva Tosca Red Emilia-Romagna
    Uvalino Red Piedmont
    Valentino nero Red Piedmont
    Vega White Veneto
    Verdea White Lombardy, Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna
    Verdeca White Emilia-Romagna
    Verdello White Umbria
    Verdicchio bianco White Marche
    Verdiso White Veneto
    Verduzzo Friulano White Friuli-Venezia Giulia
    Verduzzo Trevigiano White Veneto
    Vermentino White Sardinia, Liguria and Piedmont
    Vermentino nero Red Tuscany
    Vernaccia di Oristano White Sardinia