Native Italian, DWS and Certified Sommelier.
While Italian red wines still garner much of the attention, there are, without doubt, many outstanding white wines that deserve consideration. While white wines like Soave, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi or Fiano di Avellino, are already well-known, there are also lesser-known — but rightfully trending — Italian white grape varieties that today produce exciting wines worth seeking out.
Grapes for Vin Santo Drying in the Vinsantaia
One of the most characteristic wines of Toscana is Vin Santo. This passito is an ancient and traditional specialty produced throughout the entire region. Its origin dates back to the Middle Ages, but the prototype for this style of wine can be traced back to the Greeks and the Romans.
Most Vin Santo is made from white grapes, typically Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia Bianca Lunga. It can be made from just one of these grapes but is more commonly a blend of the two. Trebbiano provides acidity while Malvasia provides body, texture and perfume. A rare, pink Vin Santo called Vin Santo Occhio di Pernice (“partridge eye”) is made from red grapes, usually Sangiovese. Only a few producers make this pink version.
The Gallo Nero (Black Rooster) was the historic symbol of the League of Chianti and has become the symbol of the wines of Chianti Classico. The Black Rooster symbol is linked to a medieval legend that takes place during the time of open hostilities between Firenze and Siena for control of the Chianti territory.
Glera is the principal grape of Prosecco sparkling wine. Originally the grape was known as Prosecco (more precisely Prosecco Tondo). The variety has an unclear origin and an even more complicated ampelographic history due to the fact that several distinct varieties have been called “Prosecco-something” in northeast Italy since the 18th century. The grape is late-ripening and prone to both fungal diseases and water stress. It is widely planted in the province of Treviso.