Introduction

By Paul Caputo

Were it not for the impressive commercial success of Franciacorta over recent years, Lombardy could be deemed one of the least exciting wine regions in Italy. Of course, such a simplistic view doesn’t hold much weight once the wine lover starts to scratch beneath the surface. Lombardy is a region of incredible diversity and there is undoubtedly a litany of strong producers making good quality wine. Although many are labelled with highly localised appellations, they can be well worth seeking out.

Located in the centre of Northern Italy, the region is completley landlocked, bordered to the west by Piedmont, Veneto to the east and the warmer Emilia Romagna to the south. Further north, over the Alps, is Switzerland and Ticino. Lombardy, or Lombardia in Italian, is a large region that extends some considerable way south into the flat plains of the Po Valley. Temperatures are typically hot here but are moderated by the large bodies of water that are collectively known as the Italian lakes.

The Oltrepo Pavese DOC is responsible for plenty of easy drinking wines, although to confuse matters there have been some breakaway appellations formed in a bid to highlight the charms of both the Croatina and the Barbera variety. To compound international confusion these go by the names Bonarda dell’Oltrepò Pavese and Buttafuoco dell’Oltrepò Pavese DOC. Growers in this area tend to utilise the benefits and facilities of local cooperatives - which means quality can vary.

Appellations of Lombardy

Franciacorta DOCG

Franciacorta is Italy’s spotlight sparkling wine. Produced using the traditional Champagne varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Pinot Nero, this traditional method fizz puts Lombardy on the wine map. These wines seem to get better and more refined with each year that passes.

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Oltrepò Pavese DOC

The Oltrepò Pavese is a relatively large area of the Province of Pavia, in the north-west Italian region of Lombardy producing a range of different wine styles. The red Barbera grape dominates but the area is also home to some outstanding sparkling wines from Pinot Nero.

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Valtellina Superiore DOCG

Valtellina Superiore is one of the great red wines of northern Italy, produced with 100% Nebbiolo, or Chiavennasca as it is known locally, it is known for its ability to give wines of finesse, elegance and cool mountain fruit.

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Alpi Retiche IGP

Located close to the Swiss border, the Alpi Retiche IGP is by producers in the north of Lombardy, particularly in the appellation of Valtellina Superiore DOCG to produce wines from varieties not otherwise permitted. Often this means white wines, but also wines that seek to complement Chiavennasca with other red varieties.

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