Wines of Lombardia, Italy
Wedged between Piedmont and the Tre Venezie, Lombardia locates in the center of Italy Northern wine region. Bordering Switzerland to the north and Emilia-Romagna to the south, it is also one of Italy’s most important wine regions. It is also the most industrialized wine region in Italy, home to the city of Milan, the epicenter finance and fashion capital.
Lombardia is a mixture of terrains and lakes creating micro-climate pockets throughout the region. Further north edging the Alps, it is fairly cool condition, continental climate shift of warmer days and cooler nights. Moving further south especially by the border of Emilia-Romania, the condition changes drastically to hot and humid.
Lombardia is home to some of the best Italian sparkling wines (Spumante), made with the traditional Champagne method. It is no surprise that Champagne varietals (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) are widely planted here in addition to indigenous ones, such as Chiavennasa and Lugana.
Red: Chiavennasca (Nebbiolo), Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir), Barbera
White: Lugana (Trebbiano), Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Blanco
Locates in the far north inching upward the Alps, outside of Piedmont, Vateliina is the only region dedicates its craft to Nebbiolo, or Chiavennasca. Steep and unstable terrains enforce vineyards into terraces. Many vineyards are planted on slopes facing south to maximize sun exposure. The region is generally cool, luckily high mountain peaks shield vineyards from overnight frost while hidden valleys layered with rocks and stones help trap in the heat and also retain it during nightfall.
Vatellina red wines for the most part of lighter in body compared to those of Barolo and Barbaresco, it is rather simple, less refined and lacks in complexity. The higher quality red wine are Vatellina Superiore, made from 100% Nebbiolo and must be aged for minimum 2 years. There are 4 districts that Valtelinna Superiore are made from, however the best of them all comes from Inferno -referring to the hot sun roasting hillside vineyards during the summer months. Wines from Inferno are full body, well structured and much more concentrated compared to the rest of Valtellina.
Right in the heart of Lombardia, geographically and figuratively speaking, Lombardia wouldn’t have been the same without Franciacorta.
This is home to Italy’s best Sparkling wine, made with the traditional Champagne method. Sparkling wines in Franciacorta are labeled Metodo Classico or sometime Metodo Tradizionale, they are a world different than those of Asti and Processco, which are made with the Charmat method. Franciacorta sparkling wines are elegant, classy and full of flavors. In addition to traditional Champagne grapes -Chardonnay and Pinot Noir- Franciacorta allows two native varietals Pinot Grigio and Pinot Bianco into the mix. Non-vintage Franciacorta sparkling wines are required by law to age at minimum 18 months while vintage ones need to cellar for no less than 30 months.
Further east, right along the border of Lombardia and Veneto finds a very lovely wine-district of Lugana. Many wine regions in Italy produce white wine made from Trebbiano, for the most part they are nice wines, easy on the palate but nothing extraordinary; but Trebbiano of Lugana is something else. It is aromatic and tasty, especially on a summer day; it is like a tropical breeze in a glass. A perfect pairing with seafood from the nearby Lake Garda.
Out of the three major areas, Oltrepo Pavese is responsible for a large share overall wine produced in Lombardia. The close-by city of Milan has always been the leading market for its wine.
Wines of Oltrepo Pavesa are no extraordinary, they’re made for everyday consumption. Red wine are made largely with Barbera and Croatina grapes, they are enjoyable however less refined and lack elegance. On the same quality, Riesling Italico is the leading grape in white wine. It is not to be confused with Riesling grape, Riesling Italico doesn’t have the same aromatics and body.
Perhaps, what made Oltrepo Pavese a notable wine region is its Spumante (sparking wine). Although many follow the traditional Champagne Method (Metodo Classico), Spumante here are very easy to drink, it is not of the same quality like those from Franciacorta but they are much more affordable. Frizzante is another popular bubblies, it is lightly sparkling can be made into dry style (Buttafuoco) and demi-sweet style (Sangue di Giuda).
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-Certified Sommelier (CMS)
Napa Reserva -Falling for wine, one sip at a time. TM