The Wild Abundance of Italian Native Grapes

In this weekly column, we hope to lead you to a destination of uncommon pleasure and discovery among the plethora of Italy’s native wine grapes.

Home to more grape varieties than any other country, Italy’s wine diversity is often described as endless. Many of these varieties are so climate specific that they cannot be transplanted to another region, they are better able to cope with local microclimates and express terroir, resulting in wines with distinctive and unique aromas. Nothing, however, is perfect and some interesting Italian vines are trivially underrated due to historical reasons, often being left in the shadows of more famous ones.

Fortunately, in the last two decades, this unique abundance is being embraced by growers and producers across the country as they look to revive forgotten indigenous grape varieties and capitalize on the exciting possibilities they offer. Luckily or not, this phenomenon has become a trend and people are now rejecting the so-called big six grape varieties.



The entrepreneurial character the viticulture in the 90’s has had the merit of raising the quality level of Italian wine production, making it recover from the methanol scandal (1986). On the other hand, it has been naïve, reducing the ampelographic studies to those commercially successful on the global market. However, without doubts, the wines made on that period were interesting, according to the logic of standardized taste.

Fortunately, the Tucan viticulture growth has overturned this tendency and today the so-called “autochthonous” grapes are finally an object of renewed interest, for either the research and the production fields. As a result, this year we have received a lot of wine labels made from native grape varieties of Tuscany. In addition to the well-known ones, as canaiolo and colorino, we would like to introduce to our readers three incredible grapes from Tuscany: pugnitello, foglia tonda and barsaglina.


We are pretty sure you will hear more about them in the future!



It is a vigorous grape, similar to Montepulciano. Pugnitello was found in 1981 in Poggi del Sasso in Cinigiano (Grosseto). It has been placed and experimentally duplicated by San Felice in Castelnuovo Berardenga, and today is widely produced in the region.

Best label tasted this year:

2Venti 2015 from Podere Anima Mundi

Via della Montanina 22, Usigliano di Lari (PI)

+39 345 277 62 27




Foglia Tonda

Its main area of production is Chianti, and this grape was first mentioned in the late nineteenth century by Barone Ricasoli a Gaiole, in Chianti. Previously was used in a blend with Sangiovese, giving the wine more texture and body.

Best label tasted this year:

Foglia Tonda del Rinascimento 2015 from Piandaccoli

via Piandaccoli 7, Loc. Malmantile, Lastra a Signa (FI)

+39 055 0750005




It is a Massa-Carrara native wine, which was preserved in certain Apennine areas. Barsaglina unpopularity is connected to its  weak disease resistance. Today, however, improvements in cultivation techniques are bringing back its usage, even outside its traditional growing areas.

Best label tasted this year:

Barsaglina 2015, Mannucci Droandi

Via Rossinello e Campolucci 79, Frazione Caposelvi, Montevarchi (AR)

+39 055 9707276