postage_stamp_italy.pngLa Bella Italia - what astounding diversity greets the wine drinker! There is almost no part of Italy that is not touched by the vine. The ancient Greeks called the Peninsula "Enotria" - the land of wine. From north to south Italy is blessed by Bacchus. Italy's variety is evident not only by the almost unbelievable number of distinct varietals of Vitis vinifera one finds in Italy (some estimate up to 3,000), but by the astonishing variety in climate, landscape, altitudes, soil and stone, winemaking traditions - and of course the finished product. Truly there is no other country in the world that produces a greater variety of wines.

Years ago, Italy was pigeonholed as a country that produced some good wines in Barolo and Barbaresco, white wines that were insipid, oxidized or neutral affairs, and Chianti that came in straw-basket fiaschi -- perfect for use as a dorm room candle holder. Appellations and their laws were routinely abused, flaunted, ruined by over-production and greed.

How things have changed. Italy's best producers have never been more conscientious, more aware of the awesome historical legacy they safeguard, or of the opportunities afforded them by ancient indigenous varietals and clean modern winemaking. From tip to toe of the boot, from the French border to the Slavic states, Italians are producing fine, terroir-driven, truly superb wines from Greco and Friulano and Nebbiolo and Nero d'Avola and Nerello Mascalese and Vermentino and Montepulciano and...the list goes on and on.

The bar is set ever higher by fantastic, proud, dedicated men and women. The heritage of these wonderful wines is safe - very safe -  in their hands.

~ Joe Kotnik