Italian Wine Regions - Quattrocalici
Table of Contents for the Lombardy Region
The Lombardy Wine Region
Main Article Contents
The Territory of Lombardy
Lombardy is a vast region (about 24,000 sq km), with areas having very different characteristics both from the climatic point of view and from the soil point of view. Very mountainous areas, such as Valtellina, partially hilly areas as Oltrepò Pavese and areas with a very special microclimate, such as those around the Garda Lake. The area of Lombardy is flat for about an half and mountainous for a further 40%, so that just about 10% of the surface is hilly, vocating itself to quality viticulture. All this to say that from the point of view of wine production and cultivation of graper there are different situations depending on the area taken into consideration.
Viticulture in Lombardy
The 74,000 acres of vineyards in Lombardy are scattered over the large regional area. The vineyards of Valtellina are located on the slopes of the high mountains, on the right side of the Adda river, where the sunlight can mature the grapes. The grapes are cultivated in terraces often at the limit of the maximum altitude that allows viticolture. In this area the most common type of pruning is Guyot. Oltrepò Pavese is an area between the provinces of Pavia and Alessandria and has always been known for massive productions of red wines with mainly regional consumption. Now is worldwide known for its sparkling wines and intense red wines based on Pinot noir. The most common form of pruning is also here the Guyot.
The grape varieties of Lombardy
In Valtellina the main variety of grape is Nebbiolo here named Chiavennasca. Other autochthonous ones are Pignola, Rossola, Brugnola (known in Emilia-Romagna as Fortana or Uva d’Oro), all black-berry. They are rarely vinified in purity mostly blended in the classic Valtellina wines. In Oltrepò Pavese, the most widespread grape is Barbera, followed by Croatina, Bonarda and Uva Rara. Pinot Noir deserves special mention. The white wines are made with Riesling, Moscato and Malvasia grapes. Franciacorta, in the Lake Iseo area, is known for Pinot noir, Pinot blanc and Chardonnay wines. In the Garda area and the Mantua Hills, the grapes of Groppello, Barbera, Marzemino are grown. Here, Pergola Trentina and Sylvoz are the most widespread forms of pruning.
The Denominations of Origin of Lombardy
In Valtellina Nebbiolo originates the Sforzato di Valtellina or Sfursat di Valtellina DOCG, a wine obtained through partial drying of the grapes, and to Valtellina Superiore DOCG. Oltrepò Pavese has recently been recognized as a region of excellence for sparkling wine production (Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico DOCG). Franciacorta is also an area known for the production of classic method sparkling wine (Franciacorta DOCG). The wines of Curtefranca DOC are produced with the same grapes together with Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. In the Garda area and the Mantua Hills the Garda DOC and Garda dei Colli Mantovani DOC have wines based on Groppello, Barbera, Marzemino and Sangiovese. The Lambrusco Mantovano DOC and the Lugana DOC (white wines based on the Trebbiano di Lugana grape) are interregional denominazion shared with the province of Verona. Other Lombardy wine areas are the San Colombano al Lambro DOC, between Pavia and Milan, with the same grapes grown in Oltrepò Pavese, and the Valcalepio DOC, located between the Bergamo province and Lake Iseo, with the native red grapes Moscato di Scanzo (from which the Moscato di Scanzo DOCG).
Alltogether in Lombardy there are 5 DOCG, 23 DOC and 15 IGT. Among the 10 PDO and 6 PGI we remember the famous Bitto di Valtellina PDO cheese and the Bresaola della Valtellina PGI.
Important note: The denomination Riviera del Garda Bresciano DOC, the Valtenesi DOC and the Garda DOC classico subarea were aggregated in 2017 to make the Riviera del Garda Classico DOC. Technically, the Riviera del Garda Bresciano DOC has been renamed and absorbed the other two. The Garda DOC still exists, but without the classico sub-area and the types of wine based on the Groppello grape.
Regional cuisine in Lombardy
Lombardy from the gastronomic point of view is a very varied region, also as a consequence of the vastness of the territory and the variety of its conformation, from the Alpine Arch to the Po Valley with many lakes and rivers. The appetizers are mainly based on cured meats, such as the Salami of Brianza and Varzi PDO and the Bresaola della Valtellina PGI. Veal nerves and Voghera peppers are also typical. Among the main courses we mention the remarkable variety of risottos, among which the most famous is undoubtedly the Risotto alla Milanese, the soups and the minestrone, such as the Pavese soup (with stale bread and eggs) and the Milanese minestrone. Also worth of note are the Valtellina pizzoccheri, buckwheat tagliatelle cooked with cabbage and potatoes and seasoned with butter and cheese. The main courses are mainly based on meat, the famous Milanese cutlets and the ossibuchi, also served with risotto. In addition, the Lombardy cuisine is rich in game dishes based on hare, pigeons, chamois and roe deer. Also common are freshwater fish dishes, thanks to the presence of rivers and lakes, based on trout, carp and perch. There are numerous cheeses with a designation of origin, such as the formai de mut of the upper Val Brembana, the Casera and the Bitto in Valtellina, the Lombard quartirolo and many others. Among the desserts the Easter dove and the panettone are now widespread nationwide,as are the Mantua sbrisolona, the offelle (shortcrust pastry with jam) and many others.