Italy, Margaret River

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.
Margaret River is the name of a river, town and key wine region. It is one of the younger viticultural regions in Australia, quickly gaining popularity for its world-class wine. Located 280km South of Perth in Western Australia, the first plantings were only made in 1967. The region has grown rapidly and is recognised as one of the great wine-producing regions of the world, with over 200 wineries in operation. Made up of predominantly boutique producers, with a number of big player wineries also, the region makes up only 3% of the Australian wine production, but commands over 20% of the premium wine market. The wineries in the region are vibrant, innovative and progressive in their approach to viticulture.

The Mediterranean style climate provides superior maritime growing conditions, with vines not affected by extreme summer and winter temperatures. The region is well known for producing outstanding red wines; Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and to a lesser extent Shiraz, Tempranillo and Malbec. Both straight varietals and famous Bordeaux blends can be outstanding.

In the white wines, Chardonnays of great depth and character, and fresh Semillon Sauvignon Blanc blends are the main varietals the region is famous for. Lesser quantities of Viognier, Riesling and Muscat are also produced.
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