In Italy there are in fact more than 1.500 different grape varieties, 350 of them officially registered and approved for the production of Italian wine (register under http://catalogoviti.politicheagricole.it/catalogo.php). Every year some “forgotten” grape type is rediscovered from the treasure room.
It is important to discern between “international” and “autochthonous” grape varieties. International types are e.g. Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah etc. Autochthonous is the definition given to those which were born or originated in the very same place where we can find them now (from determined areas or regions). Certainly these grapes have been adapting to the special soil for hundreds of years.
Over the past few years a strong trend in Italy has arisen, rediscovering and re-cultivating some of the long forgotten types , but only a few have survived. This trend offers new commercial opportunities to the producers and new stimulus for the consumers.
Only to name some of them, Timorasso (white, Piedmont), Tintilia (red, Molise), Nascetta (white, Piedmont), Recantina (red, Veneto), Roussin de Morgex (Aosta Valley), Roviello or Grecomusc (white, Campania); actually some of them are really “fashionable” now, as Nerello Mascalese (red, Sicily, Etna region), Passerina and Pecorino (both white, Marche), Uva di Troia (red, Apulia) …
Small producers have restored some of these autochthonous wines and now they are producing outstanding wines with unexpected flavours and structure.
There are really a lot of wines to taste!