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DipWSET Theory—Southern Italy

As some of you know, one of my study methods is to create a quick “Top 10,” an at-a-glance list a few key points from a certain country or region. They’re broad, general facts that will test my memory (or, more like, alert me to the things I still have to memorize). I want to provide my Top Southern Italian 10 for you here, but I’ve included a few anecdotes as well—just a few findings that I found interesting that may help with memorization (or, at the very least, entertain you for a moment).

Mt. Etna, Sicily, Italy
Mt. Etna, Sicily, Italy

For basic information about Southern Italy’s wine region based on WSET Level 3, please see Wine Region Overview: Southern Italy


DipWSET Theory and Tasting—Central Italy (Part 2) [Paired with Metalica]

On our last exciting episode of Central Italy Diploma Theory and Tasting, we walked along the west coast. (See DipWSET Theory and Tasting—Central Italy (Part 1)) Today, we take a look at the east coast. A fun little factoid I recently realized: If you take a look at the map of Central Italy, you see the Apennine mountains run down the center of the country “like a spine,” some say. Well, if it was a spine, it would have scoliosis—the mountain range curves, bulbs out on the east side, which means there’s less distance between mountain foothills and coastal ranges. So, unlike the expansive wine regions of the west coast, where vineyards planted inland have more continental climates and receive cooling influences from altitude, on the east side, we have a warm Mediterranean climate cooled by the Adriatic air that can reach some of those inland locations. Just thought I’d point that out because I thought it was cool.

Apennine Mountains From Wikipedia
Apennine Mountains
From Wikipedia

Today we’re going to do a little review of Marche and Abruzzo and listen to Metalica. For a more general overview of Central Italy, based on WSET Level 3, please see Wine Region Overview: Central Italy.


DipWSET Theory and Tasting—Central Italy (Part 1)

When I was studying for my WSET Level 3 exam, I put together a great general guide to Central Italy. I still find it very useful in that it helps me compartmentalize where the most important regions are on the Italian map and where the most prominent DOCs are within those regions. And that’s great. But as those of you studying for your Diploma-level exam know, that information just scratches the surface of what’s expected of us now.

Italy’s big. It can be intimidating if we look at it like one big chunk. For me, it’s Central Italy that really causes the most confusion. So I want to take some time to look at Central Italy in little pieces and call out a few specifics included in our Diploma level studies that weren’t mentioned in Level 3 that, to my eyes, seem like good nuggets of information to keep in the front of the brain come exam time.

Andiamo, amici…


Wine Region Overview: Southern Italy

Ok cool kids—or, bambini—this is our last stop on our tour of Italy’s wine regions—Southern Italy. Don’t forget to check out what we learned in Northern and Central Italy as well.

[Information based on WSET Level 3 material]

First thing you have to know is that Southern Italy is hot. If you’ve been there during the summer months, you know what I’m talking about. Luckily, despite many preconceived notions, the wines of the Southern Italian world are not all big, bold reds. Let’s take a look…

Overall, the climate of Southern Italy, is hot and dry in the inland areas, becoming more humid toward the coast. As in, Central Italy, many vineyards are planted along the slopes of the Apennine, in which case the vineyards are cooled by altitude. Those planted in the coastal area of the Puglian Peninsula will receive some moderating sea breezes.

Traditionally, vines were bush-trained low to the ground as a way to utilize the canopy to protect grapes from sunburn. Many old vines still use this viticultural method, however newer vineyard plantings use cordon training and trellising in order to incorporate mechanization in the vineyard.


Wine Region Overview: Central Italy

Did you join us on our tour of Northern Italy? If not, take a look because today we’re moving south to the central wine regions of the country…

[Information based on WSET Level 3 material]

Remember how the northern wine region was defined by the Alps spanning the entirety of the northern-most border? Well we have a similar geological-defining feature here: the Apennine Mountains run the length of Peninsula. Grapes planted along its hills and valleys experience the moderating affects of altitude, helping alleviate the overall hot climate of the region. Again, similar to the northern region, some vineyards in Central Italy are planted along the coastline—these will, of course, benefit from cooling sea breezes.