Italy, Beaujolais

Italy has some of the oldest wine production methods in the world and almost every part of the country is planted under vine. From the Alps in the north to the very southernmost parts of Sicily where Africa is almost in sight, wine is successfully cultivated. In addition to the latitude covered, Italy's many mountains and hills provide a plethora of altitudes for grape growing in various soils and micro-climates. The extensive coastlines along the peninsula that is Italy provide maritime climates for the coastal wine-growing areas. Over 350 grape varieties are 'authorised' in Italy, though up to 550 varieties are thought to be grown.

The classification system of Italian wines has four classes, with the intention of defining a wine's origin a quality. Two of these classes are table wines, whilst DOC and DOCG fall under the EU quality wine produced in a specific region category. Vino da Tavola (VDT) means that the wine comes from Italy. Most of these wines are generally basic table wines that are consumed domestically. Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) denotes a more specific region within Italy, and the resultant will be of higher quality than simple table wines, but won't conform to the rules required for higher certification. Both Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) and Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG) are regionally more specific than IGT, and have stricter rules regarding the grape varieties grown, yields per hectare, minimum alcohol levels and so on. The major difference between DOC and DOCG is that the latter has to undergo a blind-tasting session to ensure the highest quality is achieved. Italy has 32 DOCG appelations, 311 DOC appelations and 120 IGT zones.

Key regions include Piedmont, Tuscany, Abruzzo, Veneto, Sicily and Sardinia. Common white varieties grown are Pinot Grigio, Arneis, Vermentino, Verdicchio, Fiano and Moscato. The red varieties grown the most are Sangiovese, Barbera, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, Montepulciano, Primitivo, Nero d'Avola and Corvina.
Located just south of Burgundy, the French wine region of Beaujolais covers an impressive area of 22,000 hectares between Mâcon and Lyon. Although this wine region was famous for being associated with dull, diluted wine in the past, its reputation has since only improved, proving their worth to wine lovers all over the world with their endless variety of wines, ranging from fresh and light to refined and lush wines. 98 percent of the vineyards here are made up of the famous Gamay grapes, with the exception of a small amount of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir which are used to make white wines. Gamay grapes are known to make luscious red wines that have a light to medium body, moderate tannin, relatively low acidity and contain aromas of berries such as raspberry, tart cherry and cranberry. The region of Beaujolais is home to ten named village Crus: St Amour, Juliénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Chénas, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié (a Cru since 1988), Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly. When compared to most other Beaujolais wines, the Crus of this region are more concentrated and have much more character and can be kept for up to ten years.

Beaujolais is blessed with a temperate climate and shares its summer weather with the Mediterranean Sea due to its close proximity, but the location is also interior enough to experience cold dry weather from the Northeast. The soil of Beaujolais is an important component in defining the different styles of wines in the region. Towards the south of the town of Villefrance, the soil is made up of sandstone or clay and limestone. In the north, the soils are comprised of granite or crystalline rock on the upper slopes, and in the lower slopes they are made up of stone and clay soils.
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