Lombardy Wine – appreciated by expert connoisseurs

Lombardy Wine
Vineyars in Chiuro Valtellina – Photo © Azienda Agricola Folini

Lombardy Wine: Although most agricultural areas in Lombardy focus on food production rather than grape growing, the citizens of this most populous and well-to-do region are better noted as consumers than producers of wine.

Still, even though output is much less than that of neighboring Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, and Piedmont, Lombardians do make some fine wine, a growing share of which is truly excellent. That said, one could find very good local wine production, centered specifically on six main noble grape variety zones.

Just why the inhabitants (the eclectic Milanese, in particular) downplay local wines is hard to explain.

But regional wines are often upstaged on restaurant lists by the reds of Tuscany and Piedmont and the whites of the Venezie (Veneto, Trentino, and Friuli).

Many of the 6 million bottles of Nebbiolo reds produced annually in the Alpine Valtellina are spirited away by the neighboring Swiss before Italians have a chance at them. On the other hand, Lombardians do show growing signs of pride in their preferences for the metodo Classico sparkling wines of Franciacorta, which have attained the status of DOCG (while the red and white wines of the zone come under the Terre di Franciacorta DOC).

Lombardy boasts some highly favorable places for vines in a region where the Alpine climate is tempered by the lakes of Garda, Iseo, Como and Maggiore in the north, and the Apennines to the south.

Olrepo Pavese – Photo Alessandro Vecchi Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Lombardy Wine: The regions where they grow it

The Oltrepo’ Pavese, which means beyond the Po River and translates into an area roughly corresponding to the Pavia province, has a long tradition of excellent wine.

Only recently has its wines acquired a well-deserved recognition that goes beyond the national borders. The tradition of selling these modestly priced wines locally in the countryside’s osterie, or taverns, lined along the banks of the Ticino and Po rivers, has led to the lingering false impression that the local production was of lesser quality than wines produced in the neighboring regions.

This region is the most productive zone, it is Italy’s leading source of Pinot Nero grapes. In the past, growers let much of the supply slip away to Piedmontese and other bottlers of sparkling wine. But a growing quantity of bottle-fermented wine has been issued under the DOC of Oltrepò Pavese, sometimes labeled as Metodo Classico Classes.

Oltrepò Pavese producers sell as DOC only a fraction of the wine produced annually. Yet they make some very good wines there, not only Pinots but robust Barbera, Bonarda and Oltrepò Pavese Rosso, plus fruity white Rieslings and Moscatos. They make also local sparkling wines by tank methods of fermentation.

The provinces of Bergamo, Mantova and even Milano make good wines, but the prize for quality and variety goes to Brescia, which boasts a majority of the region’s DOC/DOCGs: Botticino, Capriano del Colle, Cellatica, Franciacorta, Terre di Franciacorta, Garda Bresciano, San Martino della Battaglia and two zones that share territory with Veneto: Garda and Lugana.

Under Garda DOC, for instance, are four wines from the Garda Classico area in the province of Brescia. The white Lugana, which compares with Soave Classico in class, has been growing in stature.

Berlucchi Wineyard in Franciacorta – Photo © Azienda Berlucchi
Lombardy Wine in Franciacorta

The province of Brescia, which includes the Franciacorta zone with its rich reds, excellent whites, and outstanding sparkling wines, is, on the other hand, the third major wine-producing area.

There are about 70 wineries within the Franciacorta zone. Some of them, such as the Berlucchi, produces arguably the best Italian sparkling wines. Also, the Ca del Bosco, is a national leader in quality and prestige.

In addition, there are two more DOC zones, the Cellatica and Botticino. They are closer to the city of Brescia. Other notable wines, such as the Trebbiano di Lugana, come from the Brescian shores of the Garda Lake.

Lombardy’s most admired wines of the moment are from Franciacorta. Terre di Franciacorta DOC applies to a sturdy red from Cabernet, Barbera, and Nebbiolo, as well as to white wines from Pinot Bianco and Chardonnay.

But Franciacorta’s reputation has been built on the outstanding bottle-fermented sparkling wines fashioned by estates. Nearly a third of Italy’s bottle-fermented sparkling wine is produced in the Brescia area, but only wines from select vineyards in the zone qualify as Franciacorta DOCG.

A wine event by Azienda Agricola Folini – Valtellina – Chiuro SO – Photo ©
Lombardy Wine in Valtellina

That is to say, the Valtellina DOC zone, centered around the province of Sondrio, produces some of the most appreciated regional wines based largely on the local version of Nebbiolo, the Piedmont noble grape known here as Chiavannesca.

The Valtellina Superiore DOCs, differentiate by the area of the grape, are especially good.

In Switzerland, and not only, as a result, they highly respect the Valtellina. Valtellina Superiore and its four subdistricts: Grumello, Inferno, Sassella, and Valgella received DOCG denomination.

Those wines gained favor in Italy and abroad. Also a bit of the rich and mellow Sfursat or Sforzato, included in the Valtellina DOC.

The Superiore reds of Valtellina are among the most austere of Nebbiolos. This is due to the coolness of the terraced mountain vineyards, so steep in places that grapes are hauled in with baskets on cables.

But the apparent lightness is deceptive, for some have the strength and stamina to improve for well over a decade.

The Wines in Lombardy: The other regions

The three other main producing areas, though less noteworthy, create some respectable wines such as the Valcalepio DOC in the province of Bergamo, the Lambrusco Mantovano, produced around Mantova near the border with Emilia-Romagna and the tiny zone of San Colombano al Lambro, in the province of Milan.

Lombardy Wine : The protected varieties

Sforzato di Valtellina or Sfursat di Valtellina
Valtellina Superiore

DOC Wine
Capriano del Colle
Garda Colli Mantovani
Lambrusco Mantovano
Moscato di Scanzo
Oltrepo Pavese
Riviera del Garda Bresciano
San Colombano al Lambro
San Martino della Battaglia
Terre di Franciacorta
Valtellina Rosso or Rosso di Valtellina

IGT Wine
Alto Mincio
Benaco Bresciano
Collina del Milanese
Montenetto di Brescia
Provincia di Mantova or Mantova
Provincia di Pavia or Pavia
Ronchi di Brescia
Terrazze Retiche di Sondrio

Other tourist destinations in Lombardy

William Dellorusso
Lombardia in Cucina: The Flavours of Lombardy

Milan-style risotto, pizzoccheri Valtellinesi, and pumpkin tortelli to start; casoeula, Milan-style cutlets, frogs stewed in tomato to follow, and to send, a slice of sbrisolona cake or panettone.
Lombardy surprises with the richness of its culinary traditions and natural ingredients, which modernity has barely affected.
"Milano in Cucina" captures this kaleidoscope of flavours, with contributions from some of the most celebrated chefs on the culinary scene, who pay homage to their territory, and whose skill is able to present a modern vision in keeping with the region's progressive spirit.

The Italian Academy of Cuisine
La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy

Fifty years ago, a group of Italian scholars gathered to discuss a problem: how to preserve traditional Italian cooking. They formed the Italian Academy of Cuisine to document classic recipes from every region. The academy’s more than seven thousand associates spread out to villages everywhere, interviewing grandmothers and farmers at their stoves, transcribing their recipes—many of which had never been documented before. This is the culmination of that research, an astounding feat—2,000 recipes that represent the patrimony of Italian country cooking. Each recipe is labeled with its region of origin, and it’s not just the ingredients but also the techniques that change with the geography. Sprinkled throughout are historical recipes that provide fascinating views into the folk culture of the past. There are no fancy flourishes here, and no shortcuts; this is true salt-of-the-earth cooking. The book is an excellent everyday source for easily achievable recipes, with such simple dishes as White Bean and Escarole Soup, Polenta with Tomato Sauce, and Chicken with Lemon and Capers. For ease of use there are four different indexes. La Cucina is an essential reference for every cook’s library.

Milano in Cucina: The Flavours of Milan
The famous Risotto Alla Milanese gets its golden hue from the precious spice saffron. Legend has it that the dish came about when a Milanese painter decided to gild the risotto served at his wedding banquet with a harmless gold-colored dye. In Milan, they traditionally serve Risotto Alla Milanese with ossobuco (braised veal shank).
Traditionally made with raisins and candied citron, or with a creamy cream filling, the light, fluffy brioche-like bread called panettone may be tall or short, covered with chocolate or flavored with various liquors, but it’s always a symbol of the Christmas season.
With its hallmark domed shape, panettone graced Christmas tables in Milan since at least the 15th-century. Common knowledge claims its invention is from Milan. It is the most famous Christmas Lombardia food.

The Pax side of the Moon featuring Cesareo
Lombardia (Dicon tutti che sei mia) Quarantine Version - feat. Cesareo (Quarantine Version)

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