Lombardy is a Northern Italian wine region that is well known within the world of wine for offering high-quality wines of a number of different varieties.
Everything from sparkling white wines to dry reds makes up the wines of Lombardy, with Rosés and sweet whites also deserving recognition.
Understanding some of the more important sub-regions and grapes that are produced within Lombardy is a great way to develop a better understanding of Northern Italy’s wines as a whole.
Exploring the Wines of Lombardy
- Wine Production in Lombardy
- Oltrepo Pavese
- Nebbiolo From Lombardy
- Verdicchio From Laguna – Lombardy
Wine Production in Lombardy
The Italian region of Lombardy is one of the most important industrial areas in the entire country, with a number of large-scale manufacturers and other business operations being headquartered in the region.
The city of Milan is located in Lombardy, representing one of the largest and most culturally affluent cities in all of Italy. Everything from fashion design and production to the manufacturing of everyday items drives the economy in this region.
While large plants, warehouses, and industrial areas take up a significant amount of land surrounding the city of Milan, there is a great deal of untouched open spaces that make up the rest of the Lombardy region.
Today, there are five different DOCGs in the Lombardy region, as well as 21 DOCs. There are also 15 IGP designations in the Lombardy area, which carry fewer rules and regulations for the winemakers to adhere to.
There are a wide variety of microclimates scattered throughout this large Northern Italian region, leading to an impressive variety and variance between styles of wine. There are many elevation changes throughout the area, as well as cooling influences from large lakes.
The Franciacorta and Oltrepo Pavese sub-regions of Lombardy are considered by most wine enthusiasts and critics to be the most important in the area.
Franciacorta produces a “Champagne Style” sparkling white blend, while Oltrepo Pavese specializes in Pinot Noir.
Franciacorta is one of the most famous regions for sparkling wine in the entire country of Italy, and the wines produced here are clearly produced in the image of the world-famous Champagne region of France.
Champagne produces the most famous sparkling wines in the entire world, and many people incorrectly refer to all sparkling wines as “Champagne.” The iconic Champagne blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir is the most sought-after sparkling wine style of all time.
Franciacorta is referred to by some wine enthusiasts as “Italy’s Champagne Region,” as the wines produced there are clearly influenced by the iconic Champagne region. Not only is the blend made up of the same grapes, but the same winemaking methods are also used to make both.
The iconic Champagne-inspired cuvee of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes is produced using the “Traditional Method,” where secondary fermentation takes place inside of the bottle, leading to much smaller and more delicate bubbles than any other production method.
Prosecco, in contrast, is produced using the “Tank Method,” where large quantities of the Glera grape are carbonated all at once inside large vats or tanks.
The resulting bubbles are much larger than with the Traditional Method, and they are sometimes referred to as “Beer Bubbles”.
The delicate and complex texture achieved with the Traditional Method of fermentation coupled with the palate-pleasing blend of iconic French wine grapes makes Franciacorta one of the most popular sparkling wines in all of Italy.
While the Franciacorta region strives to produce wines in the image of Champagne, there is a significant amount of catching up to do in terms of both scale and tradition. While the region is expanding yearly, the annual production of Franciacorta is about 1% of Champagne’s.
The Champagne region also has a head start on Franciacorta by about 300 years. The Champagne blend was revised and perfected over those three centuries, as well as becoming one of the world’s most famous and marketable wines to an international audience.
Today, Franciacorta is revered and respected by wine enthusiasts and sommeliers alike, as the wines produced here often offer some of the best parts of a bottle of Champagne with a significantly lower price tag.
Ca’ del Bosco Cuvee Annamaria Clementi is the single most popular bottle of wine produced in the Franciacorta region of Italy. It is also one of the most expensive labels from the region and usually sells for somewhere between $100 and $140 per bottle.
The Oltrepo Pavese wine region is the largest in all Lombardy, and about 50 percent of all wines produced in Lombardy come from the Oltrepo Pavese region. Pinot Noir is by far the most important wine grape in this region, and traditional winemaking methods are used here.
While there are a variety of different styles of wine that are permissible for production in the Oltrepo Pavese region, the vast majority of vineyards, resources, and labor are dedicated to the cultivation and production of different styles of Pinot Noir.
While Pinot Noir is a red-skinned grape, it can be used to make everything from sparkling white to dry red wines. A wide variety of different styles of Pinot Noir are produced in Oltrepo Pavese, and one of the most unique and popular styles is a still white wine made with the grape.
Contratto For England Pas Dose Brut Rose is one of the most unique wines from anywhere in the entire country of Italy and is a sparkling rosé representation of the Pinot Noir grape that has exploded in popularity over the past few years both domestically and internationally.
Nebbiolo From Lombardy
The Lombardy region neighbors the famous and prestigious Italian wine region of Piedmont, which is best known for its production of the Nebbiolo grape. While the most famous and highly regarded Nebbiolo vineyards are located in Piedmont, Lombardy also produces a fair amount.
The most famous representations of the Nebbiolo grape are used to produce some of the most famous and expensive wines in all of Italy, including Barolo and Barbaresco.
Nebbiolo produced in Lombardy is grown and produced right next to the Piedmont region and offers fantastic value.
The Nebbiolo grape changes as much as any other grape varietal when aged in the bottle. A young bottle of Nebbiolo will carry tart red fruit notes like cherry and raspberry, while the same bottle will carry “softer” fruit flavors of baked or stewed red fruits.
Top-tier bottles of Nebbiolo from the Lombardy region often range in price between $60 and $120, a stark contrast to the four-digit price tags often associated with some of the most popular and highly regarded bottles of Barolo and Barbaresco.
The vast majority of Nebbiolo wine produced in Lombardy is much more affordable, often ranging between $20 and $40 per bottle. Budget-conscious wine enthusiasts have long looked to the Lombardy region to fill their collections with complex bottles of Italian red wine for cheap.
Ar.Pe.Pe. Rosso di Valtellina offers one of the best red wine values in all of Italy, punching high above its weight class in terms of quality for the price. Wine Enthusiast awarded the 2019 vintage a 93-point score, which is extremely high for a bottle that averages around $35 per bottle retail.
Verdicchio From Laguna – Lombardy
Verdicchio is an Italian white wine grape that is seldom grown anywhere outside of the country. While there is a significant amount of wine produced from the Verdicchio grape inside the proper region of Lombardy, a wine region that lies on Lombardy’s border is more famous for Verdicchio.
The Laguna region is often referred to as Laguna – Lombardy, as it technically sits on Lombardy’s border with the Veneto region. This small border region is one of the most prominent producers of the Verdicchio grape in the entire world, along with its home Marche.
Wine enthusiasts, sommeliers, and critics agree that the Verdicchio grape produces some of the best examples of still white wine in all of Italy. These vibrant white wines carry aromas of sweet fruit like melon and peach while offering balance on the palate and a smooth finish.
All wines from the small but prolific wine region of Laguna – Lombardy must contain at least a 90 percent concentration of the Verdicchio grape, though most producers use far more than the minimum required amount.
Ca dei Frati ‘I Frati’ Lugana is the most popular bottle of wine from the Laguna – Lombardy region and is widely distributed across Italy as well as internationally.
At under $15 per bottle, this is a great “starter wine” for those introducing themselves to Northern Italian wine regions.
Wines of Lombardy -Conclusion
The Italian wine region of Lombardy offers a wide variety of different wine styles to please wine enthusiasts with all different types of palates and taste preferences.
Everything from sparkling Franciacorta to Nebbiolo and Verdicchio is produced in Lombardy, and some of the best values in the world of wine lie here for enthusiasts in the know.