Old World


Prodution Table

Central Italy - West

This area of Italy is totally dominated by the red Sangiovese wines from the hills and tiny valleys of central Tuscany between Florence and the Umbria-Latium border. There are few other wines of any repute produced in the region and little to connect them.


PROUD POSSESSOR OF THREE OF ITALY'S six DOCGs, Tuscany is also a center of experimental wine making. The powerful red Vino Nobile di Montepulciano was the very first of Italy's DOCGs and was followed by another Sangiovese clone, Brunello di Montalcino. More recently Chianti was made DOCG, with Carmignano tipped for future classification. These are the most famous names in Tuscany but although many of the region's finest wines bear them, not all do and the quality of the wines granted DOCG status can be very variable-notably Chianti. This fact was recognized by the Tuscan producers themselves, who actively sought the ideal solution of a DOCG for the best of Chianti. Two basic approaches towards achieving this aim were to either apply DOCG to the Chianti Classico area, where most of the finest wines have traditionally been made, and leave the rest as DOC Chianti, is recognizing that some exceptional estates exist outside this central zone, grant DOCG status to the best 10 per cent of the production, regardless of origin. Unfortunately those responsible for drawing up the new regulations applied DOCG status to the whole area and to all Chianti wines. It is still theoretically possible for Chiantis to be refused DOCG, and a few awful wines are, but the selection by tasting is a public sham.. Any system that does not recognize that the majority of Chianti is mediocre is doomed.

The largest number of exceptional Tuscan wines are the "new'' barrique aged ones. Their origins stretch back to 1948, when a vineyard for the now famous Sassicaia wine first planted by Incisa della Rochetta with Cabernet sauvignon vines reputedly from Chateau Lafite-Rothschild. This became so successful that a new red wine called Tignanello was introduced by Antinoni in the wake of the 1971 vintage. This wine was a compromise between Tuscany and Bordeaux, with Sangiovese used as the base and 20 per cent of Cabernet sauvignon blended in. Until Tignanello appeared. nobody truly appreciated the harmony that could be achieved between these two grapes: it is akin to the natural balance of Cabernet and Merlot, only the Cabernet adds weight to the Sangiovese, and provides balance through satisfying flavor Tignanello sparked off the current new-wave of Tuscan wines.


Orvieto is Umbria's best-known and best-forgotten wine. Next to Frascati and Soave, it is the most used and abused name in the Italian restaurants of the world. While there are a few exciting Orvietos, such as Bigi's Vigneto Torricella, they are in a lamentably small minority One of Umbria's few deservedly famous names is Lungarotti's "Rubesco" Torgiano, whose reputation led to the establishment of the Torgiano DOC. Lungarotti is also the clear leader when it comes to producing Umbria's excellent new-wave wines. These utilize numerous grape varieties, both native and French, and are thus produced in numerous styles, but they are nearly always aged in new-oak barriques


One of the country's largest regions, Latium appropriately boasts one of its largest selling wines, Frascati the Latin Liebfraumilch. Unfortunately for a region that can boast one of the classic wines of antiquity; Falernum, it has few quality wines. However, Latium's only two fine wines Boncompagni Ludovisi's ''Fiorano" and Cantina Colacicchi's "Torre Ercolana" , both innovative Cabernet - Merlot blends, are very good indeed.