Emilia Romagna Wine Region

Extending from the hills of the Apennines to the banks of the Po River to the shores of the Adriatic is an esoteric Italian viniculture region. As well as being celebrated for it's cooking, the Emilia Romagna wine region also features some of the most fertile plains for grapevine growing in Italy. The regional capital of Bologna links up the two sections of Emilia and Romagna and in concert these two cousins of winemaking rank sixth in size at 22,000 square km (8,500 sq mi) and eighth in population with nearly four million individuals.

Vineyards of the Emilia Romagna wine region embrace over 58,000 hectares (144,000 acres) producing a yearly total of 473 million liters. Whether from the cool terraces of the Alps or the sultry fields of the Po basin, the wineries here contribute nearly twenty percent of total Italian wine production. They rank a proud fourth after Apulia, Sicily and Veneto, helping to achieve Italy's off-on global control, against France, in wine output.

Trebbiano and Sangiovese alone account for virtually half the varietals grown here. The Sangiovese remains the local favorite red with its full-bodied and fruity flavors, although there is also a pleasantly dry Lambrusco in a style seldom seen outside the country.

The Lambrusco grapes are grown on high trellised vines mainly in the flatlands south of the Po where the production touches fifty million bottles per annum in the four DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata, a legal designation) areas around Modena and Reggio.

The better known Sauvignon and Chardonnay, along with the Pinot and Cabernet Sauvignon, are still wildly popular, of course. Nevertheless, the rarer varieties, like the white Pagadebit and red Cagnina, are well concealed, but really treasured local treats. Moreover, from the hills south of Imola, Forli, and Rimini come several peppery semisweets.

Reds range from the Barbera and Bonarda with their distinguishing regional intensity all the way to the pungent Pinots, Merlots of Colli Piacentini, and Colli Bolognesi.

For those favouring something lighter on the tongue there are the dry whites of Ortrugo, Albana and Malvasia. The last mentioned, considered to be of Greek origin, is amongst the most cultivated in all Italy. The native Albana, which produced Italy's first DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) quality white, possesses high acidity and produces a remarkable dry Albana Passito with hints of apricot.

For the connoisseur, there is even the first-class Primitivo di Manduria from Puglia with medium to medium-high alcohol content, excellent for pairing with chocolate.

Best of all is to visit in the autumn, following the hot and sultry summer and sample from among the numerous fine, traditional wineries set amidst the splendid green flat plains of the Emilia Romagna wine region. Furthermore, make certain to ask to pair with the local cheese which is not to be missed.