Oltrepò Pavese

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Oltrepò Pavese, lombardy’s most sizeable viticultural area, administratively part of piemonte from 1741 to 1859, extends across the hills of a series of communes in the province of Pavia south of the Po river where the land begins to rise towards the Ligurian Apennines (the name means ‘beyond the Po, in the Pavia region’). In 2012, vineyards totalled 11,657 ha/28,792 acres, of which 9,457 ha were registered for doc wines. Oltrepò Pavese is also the name of an extensive, over-arching DOC, encompassing six DOCs and one docg, which lack true significance because production regulations and the permitted grape varieties are practically identical to those of the Oltrepò Pavese DOC. This is especially true of the DOC Pinot Grigio dell’Oltrepò Pavese and the DOC Pinot Nero dell’Oltrepò Pavese. Of real significance, however, is the DOCG Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico for traditional method sparkling wines based on at least 70% Pinot Noir with Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and/or Pinot Bianco, and a minimum of 15 months on lees, 24 months for vintage-dated wines. Oltrepò Pavese has been producing base wines for sparkling winemakers since the 19th century and the large spumante houses of Piemonte have long relied on this neighbouring zone in Lombardy for varieties not cultivated in their own region. Significant amounts of bulk wine have always been sold in nearby Milan, encouraging abundant production at extremely low prices; the quality of Oltrepò wines has thus gained little from its proximity to Italy’s largest and most affluent urban market. The small size of the properties (1.8 ha per grower) and the significant role played by co-operatives have also tended to reward quantity over quality.