Italy, Victoria

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.
The wine region of Victoria has the highest number of grape vines than any other state in Australia. It is home to over 600 wineries and well known regions such as Yarra Valley, Heathcote, and Rutherglen. Victoria is situated in the southeastern corner of Australia where due to the location, the climate has a cool maritime influence and is known for their outstanding Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, along with producing Australia's most famed dessert Muscat and Topaque wines.

There are a number of different terroir levels throughout the wine region of Victoria which leads to the production of different ranges of wines. In the southern region of Victoria, the vines are regulated by the cool winds of the Bass Strait. Central Victoria consists of mostly flat terrain that tends to be drier and warmer than the rest of Victoria, which results in more fruit concentrated wines. It may be surprising to note that Victoria is the third most productive wine region in Australia, seeing as it does not have as many areas suitable for viticulture, which has resulted in the cellar door culture of Victoria being concentrated with smaller, but more personal boutique wineries.
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