For 4,000 years, Southern Italy has been producing wine. While the business was booming in the Greek and Roman era, modern-day production has declined; much of the wine produced in the Southern region is exported to other European countries as blending wine. Overall, the Southern Italian wine region does not produce as much wine in quantity or quality as the other regions.
Still, production and quality has become a new priority. More and more Southern Italian wine regions are making good quality wines that are affordable and even available in the U.S.
Red wine dominates wine production in the Southern wine-making regions and a variety of grape types are used.
Southern Italian Wine Regions
Below is a list of the five areas included within the Southern Italian wine region.
Wine production accounts for the majority of Apulia”s economy. As such, the wines of Apulia are quite refined. Interestingly, Apulia”s Primitivo di Manduria wine is made from grapes almost exactly the same as California”s award-winning Zinfandel.
One affordable wine that is also high in quality is Salice Salentiion, a powerful red wine.
The Basilicata red wine, Aglianico del Volture, ranks among the best Italian red wines across all the regions. Aglianico del Volture is so named because the Aglianico grape vines grow around Mount Volture.
There are no native grape plants in this region. Instead, the grape plants were brought over by the Greeks, pre-Roman times.
Traditional Campania wines are consumed and enjoyed quickly, so the refinement that comes with aging wine is not as common as cheaper versions. However, distinctive wines, such as the red Taurasi, are gaining respect. By law, Taurasi must be aged at least three years; however, it is best after being aged 15 to 20 years.
The best-known red is probably Lacrimi Cristi (“Tears of Christ”), which is also produced in an Italian sparkling wine version.
Two other top Campania wines are Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo. Both are Italian white wines, and are ready to drink after four to six years.
Similar to Basilicata, Calabria”s grape plants and wine techniques were also introduced by the Greeks. Calabria is home to Ciro, which is believed to be the oldest wine produced in the world. Other notable varieties include Melissa (white and red) and the Greco di Bianco, an amber-colored Italian dessert wine.
Molise is probably the region that produces the least wine. Agriculture is the main economic activity with the vine contributing only a small influence on the market.
Originally, Molise was an appendix of Abruzzi (part of the central Italian region) but in 1963 Molise gained administrative independence.
Molise wine is grouped with the Southern style of Italian wine because it is produced using Southern Italian red wine grape varieties including Barbera, Bombino Rosso and Aglianico.