When considering “northern Italy”, one runs the risk of making gross generalizations: the area covers six of Italy’s twenty regions, borders four distinct countries, and is home to just about every style of wine conceivable. United under the Tricolore flag, these places enjoy a rich and colorful history that has endowed them with more cultural diversity than perhaps the entire United States. The fascinating geographical and geological nuances that define the landscape only contribute to this wonderfully complex equation. It is with an appreciation for northern Italy’s tremendous diversity, then, that we delve into the wines of Valle d’Aosta, Lombardy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto, and Friuli-Venezia-Giulia (Piedmont, featured in its own Guide to Piedmont in January, is omitted). Northern Italy’s defining feature is certainly the Alpine chain that forms a massive arc from the Mediterranean border with France to Adriatic confine with Slovenia. Vineyards thrive in the foothills of these mountains, and sometimes even in narrow valleys nestled high between the peaks, as is the case in Valle d’Aosta and Alto Adige. The elevation and cool Alpine winds of the hills are buffered by warm Mediterranean air currents from the south, creating a mix of climates ideal for growing balanced, expressive grapes. The combination of different soils types with myriad indigenous grape varieties creates a stunning palette of possible outcomes in the glass: aromatic whites carved out of granite in the Dolomites; characterful whites and reds born from the volcanic terroirs around Verona; salt- and stone-inflected gems from the pervasive gray limestone of Friuli’s Carso. The richness of different production methods—including specialties like appassimento, ripasso, and col fondo—means fine wine comes in white and red, dry and sweet, still and sparkling. These are border regions, and the cultural—and viticultural—influence of nearby France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia is never far off. For example, Grüner Veltliner is considered an Austrian variety, but it has also made a home for itself in the Valle Isarco, twenty miles south of the border. Such cultural richness applies just as well to cuisine, and Norditalia has some truly mouthwatering offerings: smooth fontina cheese from Valle d’Aosta, creamy risottoalla Milanese, Venetian cicchetti, and Friulan frico all have their place. In our Guide to Northern Italy, we have assembled a selection of offerings that is sure to stimulate the palate and mind. This deep collection of wines is your key to exploring everything that northern Italy has to offer.
Northern Italy’s defining feature is certainly the Alpine chain that forms a massive arc from the Mediterranean border with France to Adriatic confine with Slovenia. Vineyards thrive in the foothills of these mountains, and sometimes even in narrow valleys nestled high between the peaks, as is the case in Valle d’Aosta and Alto Adige.
Whatever your grilling setup, there’s bound to be something in this collection of wines for you. There are sparklers, whites, and rosés if grilled seafood or veggies are on the menu. Lighter reds from Beaujolais or Chinon are great with burgers and dogs. If steaks, chops, or something you hauled out of the backcountry are what’s for dinner, hearty reds from Fitou or Piedmont will serve you well.
Here at Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant we don’t believe in selling anything mediocre, and we would certainly not put our name on a wine we didn’t believe in. So our values are just that, wines that are full of value and quality.
There are hundreds of wines in our portfolio, but not nearly enough space in our monthly newsletters to feature them all. Here you’ll find recent arrivals and new additions to our site, from half-bottles to Jeroboams, across France and Italy.
Here, you’ll find almost all of the wines we poured at our Spring Tasting on Friday, May 17th. If you do not see a wine that you loved—or if it is marked “sold out”—please give our retail shop a call at 510-524-1524.
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