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Wines of Southern Italy

The main wine regions of Southern Italy include Calabria, Campania, Puglia, Sardinia and Sicily.

Southern Italian Wine Regions
Southern Italian Wine Regions

Calabria

The wines from Calabria have been subject to many influences over the centuries, most notably that of the ancient Greeks, who cultivated the first wine-bearing vines here.

Castle of  Scilla on the rock in Calabria
Castle of Scilla on the rock in Calabria
The principal grapes for red wines are Gaglioppo and Greco Nero while white wines are predominantly made from Greco Bianco, Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia Bianca.

Campania

Its name comes from Campania felix, a Latin phrase roughly meaning 'happy land' and is one of Italy's very oldest wine regions.

Amalfi coast in Campania
Amalfi coast in Campania
Its most important variety is arguably Aglianico, the grape behind the region's two most famous and respected red wines: Taurasi and Aglianico del Taburno.

The white-wine varieties include Fiano and Greco, which are used to produce the region's most respected white wines.

Puglia

Virtually all of Puglia's most interesting wines are red and produced in the southern part of the area designated IGT Salento.

Land here is relatively flat and incessantly hot, so there is no great variation in climate across different vineyards.

Unique Trulli houses with conical roofs in Alberobellodd Puglia
Unique Trulli houses with conical roofs in Alberobellodd Puglia
Negroamaro known as 'bitter black' is the principal red grape in this region. It is grown throughout the Salento area in southern Puglia and is the primary grape for making Salice Salentino wine, often blended with fruitier Malvasia Nera.

Primitivo di Manduria is one of Puglia’s most popular and enjoyable red wines. It is said to be a relative of California's Zinfandel.

Sardinia (Sardegna)

Sardinia which is off the west coast of mainland Italy is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.

Wine has never played an important part in Sardinian culture or agriculture and the region has been noticeably slower to join the international modern wine-making industry.

Relitto beach in Sardinia
Relitto beach in Sardinia
The great majority of Sardinia's grapes are either Spanish in origin, dating from the four centuries to 1708 when the island was governed by Aragón, or introduced by the subsequent Savoy regime.

Cannonau, the local form of Spanish Garnacha (Grenache) is a popular red grape varietal from this region. Similarly the Spanish Carignano grape performs well, with some excellent wines emerging from the DOC of Carignano del Sulcis in the South West.

Vermentino di Sardegna is a more commercially available wine from this region made from the Vermentino white grape.

Perhaps Sardinia’s most unique wine, is the Vernaccia di Oristano produced in Oristano, in a method similar to the Spanish fortified wine Fino Sherry.

Red varieties Monica and Girò and white Nuragus Nasco are Sardinian grapes of more obscure origin. Nuragus which is an ancient vine, is thought to have been brought to Sardinia by the Phoenicians in the 12th century BC.

Sicily

Sicily is Italy's southernmost region, and the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Blessed with consistently bright sunshine and reliably moderate rainfall, Sicily's classic Mediterranean climate is ideally suited for growing wine grapes.

Trapani town and harbor in Sicily
Trapani town and harbor in Sicily

Nero d’Avola and Catarratto are the most important natives. Syrah has been brought here from its home in southern France, where hot summer sunshine and sandy, rocky soils are also key components of the terroir.

Marsala a fortified wine, commonly used for cooking comes from Sicily.


References

The World Atlas of Wine

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