Emilia-Romagna is one of Italy’s 20 administrative regions. It stretches from central into northern Italy, between Florence and Milan. Emilia-Romagna virtually bisects north central Italy, stretching from the Ligurian/Piemonte border inland in the west (Emilia) to the quite distinct Romagna in the east on the Adriatic coast (Romagna). Connecting Emilia and Romagna is the Via Emilia, the Roman road dating from 187BC and running from Piacenza in the west to Rimini on the Adriatic coast in the east (David Gleave MW: 1989, p.80).
Early history: The first vine growers in the region date back to 6000 BC and they lived in the area near Belluria, on the basis of archaeological sources even though the first findings related to wine are much more recent and can be dated around 1700 BC. The first true vine growers were the Etruscans, who created huge expanses of vineyards in the area near Faenza. With the Middle Ages, this wine production became even more important. Over the years, it took on a key role in the region.
Modern history: The first DOC was in 1967 and the first DOCG in Italy was Albana di Romagna. Emilia-Romagna is the region that has the largest wine production in Italy after Veneto, and is one of the most extended wine regions, counting about 60,000 hectares of vineyards.
Terrain: The regional area is approximately 50% flat, 25% hilly and 25% mountainous (it gets to exceed 2.000 metres above sea level in the Tuscan-Emilian Appenines). Even the climate is different from area to area. The rivers do not have a great significance for the cultivation of the vine, while the sea, on the other hand, has a positive effect in Romagna. For these reasons, the distribution of the vineyards is approximately 20% in hilly zone, 5% in the mountains (between 400 and 600 metres above sea level), and 75% in the plains.
‘Much of the region lies in the deep, alluvial plain of the Po river, and contains some of Italy’s most fertile agricultural land. Its abundant agricultural output has created Italy’s richest cuisine,’ (Daniel Thomases and David Gleave MW: 2006, p.251). The Po separates Emilia-Romagna ‘from Lombardy and the rest of northern Italy, while the Apennines to the south define the border with Tuscany,’ (David Gleave MW: 1989, p.80).
Wine styles: The style of the wines is generally ‘frizzante’ in Emilia–’frothing reds with an attractive nippy sourness and chewiness, not just Lambrusco but also Barbera, Bonarda, Malvasia and others,’ says Oz Clarke (2015, p.113), and still wines in Romagna from Sangiovese and Trebbiano, closely following the Tuscan model.
Political geography: Capital city: Bologna (BO). Provinces (9): Bologna (BO). | Ferrara (FE). | Forlì (FO or FC). | Modena (MO). | Parma (PR). | Piacenza (PC). | Ravenna (RA). | Reggio Emilia (RE). | Rimini (RN). Provinces inland in Emilia in the west are Piacenza, Parma, Reggio Emilia and Modena. Provinces in Romagna in toward the Adriatic coast in the east are Ferrara, Forlì, Ravenna, and Rimini. Bologna (BO) province straddles both Emilia and Romagna and is the region’s capital.
Wines & regions
DOCs: Bosco Eliceo DOC. | Colli Bolognesi DOC. | Colli d’Imola DOC. | Colli di Faenza DOC. | Colli di Parma DOC. | Colli di Rimini DOC. | Colli di Scandiano e di Canossa DOC. | Colli Piacentini DOC. | Colli Piacentini Monterosso Val d’Arda. | Colli Romagna Centrale DOC. | Gutturnio DOC. | Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC. | Lambrusco di Modena or Modena Lambrusco DOC. | Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC. | Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce DOC. | Modena or Di Modena DOC. | Ortrugo dei Colli Piacentini or Ortrugo–Colli Piacentini DOC. | Reggiano DOC. | Reno DOC. | Romagna DOC. | Romagna Sangiovese DOC.
IGTs: Emilia IGT.
Native grapes: Emilia’s main native white wine grapes are Pignoletto and Malvasia di Candia Aromatica (Ian D’Agata, 2014 p.41). ‘Malvasia is prominent in Emilia, versatile, dry or sweet, still or frizzante,’ (David Gleave MW, 1989, p.90). In Emilia in the west the main native red grapes are the Lambruscos (Ian D’Agata, 2014 p.41), found on the plains between Parma and Bologna (David Gleave MW, 1989, p.82). Barbera is found in the Colli Piacentini to the west and in a thin strip of the Apennine foothills, running as far as Bologna,’ (David Gleave MW: 1989, p.82). Romagna’s main native red variety is Sangiovese, found in the Romagnolo hills,’ (David Gleave: 1989, p.82).
See also: Albana (w). | Albana Nera (r). | Beverdino. | Centesimino (r). | Cornacchia (r). | Crova (r). | Ervi (). | Forcella (w). | Fortana (r). | Malbo Gentile (r). | Malvasia Rosa. | Marzabino (r). | Melara (w). | Molinelli (w). | Mostarino (r). | Ortrugo (w). | Santa Maria. | Trebbiano. | Uva del Fantini (r). | Uva Longanesi (r). | Verdea (w). | Verdetto. | Verucchiese.
Synonymous varieties: Ian D’Agata (2014 p.41) cites Bianca di Poviglio as synonymous with Trebbiano Toscano, Balsamina with Marzemino, and Occhio di Gatto with Friulano.
Daniel Thomases and David Gleave MW in The Oxford Companion to Wine 3rd edition ed. Jancis Robinson MW (Oxford University Press, 2006), p.251.
David Gleave, The Wines of Italy (Salamander Books, London, 1989).
Dr Ian D’Agata, Native Wine Grapes of Italy (University of California Press, 2014), p.41.
Oz Clarke, Oz Clarke Wine A-Z (Pavilion, 2015), p.113.