Lombardy, located in north-central Italy, is a wine region that is primarily known for its sparkling wines from Franciacorta and Oltrepo-Pavese. In addition, the region produces red wines from Nebbiolo grapes in the Valtellina region and rosé wines in areas around Lake Garda.
Overall, Lombardy has 20 DOCs, 5 DOCGs, and 13 IGT designations. The 13 wine-producing regions include Valtellina, Garda Bresciano (near Lake Garda) and Oltrepo-Pavese.
Valtellina is particularly unique because it is located in the Alpine part of Lombardy. Nebbiolo grapes have been grown there since the 5th century, many at high altitudes above 2500 feet. Historically, the major market for these wines has been nearby Switzerland. Other than Piedmont, Lombardy is the only Italian wine region to showcase these Nebbiolo wines.
Of the 13 regions, Oltrepo-Pavese is the most prolific in terms of production, accounting for nearly one-half of all wine production in Lombardy, as well as two-thirds of all DOC production. It was once part of neighboring Piedmont but has always been focused on producing wines for the Milan market. Milan, together with Bergamo and Brescia, are the three largest cities of Lombardy.
Lombardy tends to have a cool, continental climate. The major distinguishing geographic features are the Alps in the north and the Po River, which cuts through Oltrepo-Pavese. To the west is Piedmont, to the south is Emilia-Romagna, and to the east is Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto.
Lombardy’s history dates back to the ancient Greeks, who settled the area around the Po River. These Greeks traded with the Etruscans in nearby Tuscany. Even as late as the 19th century, wine critics wrote about wines from Lombardy being made in the Greek style.
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