The Lombardia / Lombardy wine region is located in north-central Italy. The wine region is particularly well known for its sparkling wines made in the Franciacorta and Oltrepò Pavese areas. The Lombardy region also produces acclaimed still red, white and rosé wines made from a variety of local and international grapes including Nebbiolo wines in the Valtellina region, Trebbiano di Lugana white wines - along with the 'Chiaretto' style rosé wine made along the shores of Lake Garda.
The wine region currently has 5 DOCG, 20 DOC and 14 IGT wine designations. The wine area annually produces approximately 1.3 million hectolitres of wine, which is more than the regions of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Marche, Trentino-Alto Adige / Südtirol and Umbria.
The winemaking traditions of the area date back to its Greek settlers along the Po River. The regions climate is varied due to the diverse terrain, but is generally considered a ‘cool’ continental climate. The region is influenced by several geographic features, including the Alps located in the north near the wine producing area of Valtellina and the Po River which runs along the Oltrepò Pavese and forms most of the region's southern border with Emilia-Romagna. Many wine areas are located near some of regions major lakes including Franciacorta near Lake Iseo as well as the Garda Bresciano and Garda Mantovano regions near Lake Garda. To the west, is the Piedmont wine region, to the south is Emilia-Romagna and to the east are the Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and Veneto wine regions.
The Lombardy region consists of 13 wine-producing areas - from north-south include:
1: Valtellina 2: Garda Bresciano 3: Valcelepio 4: Franciacorta 5: Cellatica 6: Botticino 7: Capriano del Colle 8: San Martino della Battaglia 9: Lugana 10: Garda Mantovano 11: San Colombano al Lambro 12: Lambrusco Mantovano 13: Oltrepò Pavese.
The vineyards in this area are located at high altitudes around 2,500 feet. For most of its history, the Valtellina region's primary market was Switzerland. In recent times it has achieved international recognition for being the only major Italian region to focus on the Nebbiolo grape, locally known as Chiavennasca, outside of the Piedmont wine region.
The vineyards of the region are located on south-facing slopes. The nearby mountain peaks provide protection from cold, harsh winds and help to trap heat in the valley. The stony vineyard soil also retains heat and releases it during the night to warm the vines. This creates an optimum situation which allows the Nebbiolo grape to fully develop its flavours during the long growing season which it needs. The steep location of the vineyards means that the vines are tended by hand which increases the cost and limits production.
The Nebbiolo wines are noticeably less tannic and acidic than their Piedmont counterparts. The Valtellina DOC includes the basic level wines while the Valtellina Superiore DOCG include wines from the more premium locations and must be aged a minimum of two years. The Valtellina Superiore Riserva are reserve-style wines that must be aged for at least four years. Valtellina also produces an Amarone-style DOCG wine known as Sforzato (or Sfursat, Sfurzat) made from dried grapes with a minimum alcohol content of 14.5%.
The Oltrepò Pavese region is responsible for more the half of all wine produced in the region as well as two-thirds of its DOC-designated wines. Today it produces a DOCG sparkling wine with its Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) grapes and a rose sparkling wine denominated Cruase. In addition to sparkling wines, the Oltrepò Pavese also produces red wines from the Pinot Nero, Barbera, Croatina, Uva Rara and Vespolina. There are some small plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon that are starting to appear as varietal wines. The white wines of the region are made from Riesling Italico (Welschriesling), Riesling (Riesling Renano), Chardonnay, Cortese, Malvasia, Moscato, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc.
The Franciacorta wine zone is responsible for some of Italy's most prestigious sparkling wines. Located along the shores of Lake Iseo, vines and wineries of which there are about 70 within the area, are planted in well-drained morainic soils. The area has a long history of producing still red and white wines but has gained most of its success in the past 40 years since it started producing sparkling wines. In 1995, the region received DOCG status and created a separate DOC, known as Terre di Franciacorta for non-sparkling wines.
The wine regions along Lake Garda are known for their Chiaretto style rosé wine made from a blend of Barbera, Gropello, Marzemino and Sangiovese. This dry wine is deeper in colour than most rosés and typically has good acidity with very low alcohol levels. The red style wines are made with the same blend of grapes but in a darker, more full-bodied style. The Lugana white wines are made from the Trebbiano grape and are known for their fruitiness and medium body. White wines from the San Martino della Battaglia are made from the Tocai Friuliano grape, which is best known for its use in the nearby Vento region. The Garda Mantovano white wines are based on Trebbiano and Garganega and its red wines are made from Merlot and Molinara. Other Lombardy region wines include the sweet Moscato Passito from Valcalepio and the light red wines from the Schiava and Barbera grapes in the Cellatica and Botticino region.
Lombardy DOCG wine appellations:
Franciacorta, Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico, Scanzo or Moscato di Scanzo, Sforzato di Valtellina or Sfursat di Valtellina, Valtellina Superiore.
Lombardy DOC wine appellations:
Bonarda dell’Oltrepò Pavese, Botticino, Buttafuoco dell’Oltrepò Pavese or Buttafuoco, Capriano del Colle, Casteggio, Cellatica, Curtefranca, Garda, Garda Colli Mantovani, Lambrusco Mantovano, Lugana, Oltrepò Pavese, Oltrepò Pavese Pinot Prigio, Pinot Nero dell’Oltrepò Pavese, Riviera del Garda Bresciano or Garda Bresciano, San Colombano al Lambro or San Colombano, San Martino della Battaglia, Sangue di Giuda dell’Oltrepò Pavese or Sangue di Giuda, Terre del Colleoni o Colleoni, Valcalepio, Valtellina Rosso or Rosso di Valtellina, Valtenèsi.
Lombardy IGT wine appellations:
Alto Mincio, Benaco Bresciano, Bergamasca, Collina del Milanese, Montenetto di Brescia, Provincia di Mantova or Mantova, Provincia di Pavia or Pavia, Quistello, Ronchi di Brescia, Ronchi Varesini, Sabbioneta, Sebino, Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio, Terre Lariane, Valcamonica.