Italy: Modern history

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

That the revival of Europe’s trade in the early Middle Ages began in the Mediterranean is by now universally accepted. It is therefore no surprise that specific references to what were to become some of Italy’s most important grapes and wines can be found as early as the late 13th and early 14th centuries. Barbera was already mentioned during this period, and Nebbiolo, Trebbiano, and Garganega were specifically named by Petrus de Crescentiis in his Liber ruralium commodorum of c.1304. The country’s chronicles, both civic and monastic, of the 14th and 15th centuries abound with descriptions of the leading wines of their day—at times identified by grape variety, at times identified by their production zone. Many of them coincide, at least nominally, with the current wines of these same zones.