Italian wine varieties in Australia
The Australian wine industry is using more and more Italian wine grape varieties. For the first 200 years we used mainly French wine varieties. Over the past two decades many Italian
varieties have become more popular, and a more recent trend is the attention being given to Southern Italian varieties.
There are more grape varieties in Italy than in any other country in the world, they number in the thousands. In Australia we are using just a few dozen
Types of Italian Wine
Italy makes red, white, rose, sparkling and dessert wines
Italian sparkling wine is known as Spumanti. Unfortunately the word in Australia is associated with a cheap and nasty mass-marketed sweet wine from the 1960s and 1970s. But Spumanti can be dry or high quality.
Good dry low alcohol sparkling white wines are now being made from the Prosecco grape variety. Brachetto is a red variety most commonly used to make a sparkling, or slightly sparkling (frizzante) style.
Sweet wines are made in Italy from various types of Muscat and other grapes. Aleatico and Picolit are two which are usually destined for sweet wines. Grapes are often semi dried to increase
the sugar levels before making sweet Italian wines.
Italian White Wine Varieties
The world wide success of Pinot grigio sparked interest in Italian whites in Australia.
Arneis was the next variety to hit the spotlight and since then interest has turned to southern Italian varieties such as Fiano and Vermentino. All seem assured of a future here.
Trebbiano has been used in Australia for a long period, under various names such as Ugni Blanc, White Shiraz and White Hermitage. However it is only in recent years that Australian winemakers have attempted to make Italian style wines from the variety.
Italian white wine varieties used in Australia
The following white wine varieties are described elsewhere on Vinodiversity
Note Pinot Grigio and Trebbiano are used in other parts of the world under the name of Pinot gris and Ugni Blanc respectively.
Italian Red Wine Varieties
The most commonly used Italian red wine grape in Australia is Sangiovese. It has been around for a couple of decades but the progress of the variety has been hampered by inappropriate clones.
As this problem is addressed we can expect to see more Sangiovese wines of good quality on the market.
Barbera and Nebbiolo are two other northern Italian varieties which have been used since the 1990s. Over recent years there has been quite an improvement in the quality of
Australian wine made from Nebbiolo
In more recent years attention among innovative wineries in Australia has turned to some Southern Italian varieties such as Aglianico, Nero d'Avola and Negroamaro, as well as Sagrantino from Umbria.
All of these red wine varieties seem to have a potential to contribute to the diversity of Italian wine
Italian red varieties used in Australia
The following red wine varieties are described elsewhere on Vinodiversity
Other Varieties Used in Italy
The so called 'International varieties are also also used in Italy. Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot are widely used. In the North of Italy cooler climate varieties such as Sylvaner and Muller-Thurgau
In the days of globalisation we have more choices, but we need to take the time to look beyond the most common varieties on our supermarket shelves.
The Future of Italian Varieties in Australia
The success of the white wine varieties Arneis, Vermentino, Fiano and more recently Greco is assured. There are others which could emerge as well, for example the Puglian Bianco d'Alessano is already being used here and
the Sicilian varieties Grecanico, Grillo and Catarratto must be regarded as possibilities. In the cooler regions there is interest in varieites such as Tocai Friulano.
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