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Tuscan Native Vines – Second Part
Rosa D'Ancona – August 10, 2006

Native White Vines

  Vernaccia di San Gimignano
  Vernaccia di San Gimignano
  Canaiolo Nero
  Canaiolo Nero
  Sangiovese Grosso
  Sangiovese Grosso

In the past the Albarola grape was sometimess mistaken with the Bianchetta Genovese, though there are noteable differences between the two varieties. In Tuscany this grape is cultivated almost exclusively in the Massa Carrara province, near the border with the Liguria region, in particular in the lower end of the Lunigiana zone, where it accounts for about 100 hectares of vineyards. Here the soil and micro-climate favor the maturation of the fruit and provide a healthful environment. This grape is the main variety used to produce the Candia dei Colli Apuani DOC wines, and it's a secondary variety in the Colli di Luni Bianco DOC wine. In addition, it is part of the grapes used to make the IGT Toscano Bianco in the provinces of Pisa and Massa Carrara. In the past the Albarola grape was used mostly in the production of dessert Rinforzato wines (with distilled alcohol added), or Sciacchetrà, made with partially withered grapes. Used in blends with other grape varieties, it produces excellent white wines, bringing to the final product good alcohol content and character.

This grape variety has been cultivated on the Tuscany islands and along the coast of the provinces of Grosseto and Livorno where, in the past, it was used as a table grape in addition to a wine grape.

It is believed that the first Ansonica vineyards in the region were established on the island of Elba during the 16th century, brought there from the southern regions of Italy. sometime during the 17th and 18th centuries, the vine was brought first to Giglio (Lily) island and then to the mainland, in the Argentario highlands.

The Ansonica Bianca, locally known also as Uva del Giglio, or the Lily Grape, was described in 1938 by authors Dalmasso and Alessio, and in 1964 by Breviglieri. They highlighted the fact that this variety appears to be the same as the Inzolia from Sicily, known there also as Ansoria, Insoria, Anzonica, Insolia, Insolia di Palermo, Ansolica, Nzolia, Nzolia Bianca, Inselica and Ansolia. The theory is that this grape variety was first brought to Sicily, probably from the Middle East, and from there found its way to the southern regions of Italy, Sardinia and Tuscany.

The Tuscan Ansonica presents a variety of genetic variations, in fact, many biotypes with different characteristics have been identified in the region. The wine is straw yellow, with various degrees of intensities, at times with amber colored highlights and sometimes greenish nuances. The perfume is typical of the grape variety.

Canaiolo Bianco
The Canaiolo Bianco is a truly Tuscan native vine, where it's cultivated in the central zones of the region. The author Gallesio first wrote about this variety in 1817. Other writers who mentioned this grape include Targioni Tozzetti (1858), Lawley (1870), the Bollettino Ampelografico del Ministero dell'Agricoltura editor (Ampelographic Bulletin of the Agriculture Ministry, 1875), Di Rovasenda (1877), Marzotto (1925), Racah (1932), and De Astis (1937).

The grapes are traditionally blended with the Trebbiano Toscano, bringing to the wine finesse and flavor delicacy.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Ancient historic documents from 1276 mention a wine called Vernaccia, produced in San Gimignano, which used to be donated to the Roman Catholic court as well as to the Medici' ruling family in Florence and other Italian and English princes. The writer Molon, in 1906, mentions a Tuscan Vernaccia as synonymous of the Verdea di Arcetri wine.

A detailed description of this grape variety was written by Fregola in 1932. De Astis, in 1937, describes the Vernaccia di San Gimignano and declares that "recent research indicates that there are strong differences between this vine and other Italian Vernaccias, either white or red."

The wine has interesting characteristics. The color is light straw yellow, it's dry in the mouth and the aroma is delicately perfumed, especially when the wine is left to age in the bottle.

Native Red Vines

Canaiolo Nero
The origin of this wine is unknown, though it has grown for centuries in the traditional production zone. This variety is mentioned in the Latin book Opus Commodorum Ruralium, by Pier de' Crescenzi, published in 1303, where he writes about a vitis vinifera etrusca (Etruscan wine-making grape) called canajuola.

The varietal wine has strong body, is sufficiently alcoholic and has bitter flavor. It's ideal in blends with the Sangiovese, bringing soft tones and roundness to the final product, such as in Chianti wines.

Of unknown origin, this vine is believed to have arrived in Italy from Spain, around the 1870s. It grows sparsely in various parts of the country, though it's in Tuscany that is widely cultivated and is locally known with the names of Ciliegino and Ciliegiolo di Spagna (Ciliegiolo from Spain) as well.

The grape is medium-large and roundish, the skin has a purple-black color and produces a rather abundant amount of pruina.

The wine is ruby red, robust, with low alcohol content, fruity and has low acidity, thus is used mostly in blends, such as the DOC wines Parrina, Colli Lucchesi, Chianti, Chianti Classico, Colli di Luni and Golfo del Tigulio.

From documents made public at the II Simposio Internazionale (Second International Symposium) organized by the Tuscan region agency for the development and innovation of agriculture, the Sangiovese is to be considered a Tuscan native grape. The Tuscan heritage being confirmed by the ancient vines from which is derived: the Ciliegiolo and Calabrese.

There are many bio-types of Sangiovese in Italy, however the main varieties are the Sangiovese Grosso (Big Sangiovese) and Sangiovese Piccolo (Small Sangiovese). This historic vine is highly affected by the terroir, resulting in wines which are fairly different one from the other, depending from the production area. Sangiovese wines present different characteristics, and include wines with good acidity and light red color, as well as robust, alcoholic, dark colored wines.

Outstanding Producers of DOC Wines

Etichetta: Vernaccia di San Gimignano Vigna in Fiore

Etichetta: Centine

Etichetta: Chianti Classico Colle del Vento

Etichetta: Sant’Antimo Rosso Cum Laude

Etichetta: Tignanello

Etichetta: Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Etichetta: Morellino di Scansano

Etichetta: Caparbio Rosso Micante

Etichetta: Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Friggiali


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