Ravenna IGT

Ravenna IGT is a key IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) title used in Emilia-Romagna, north-central Italy. It covers the entire Ravenna province, which stretches inland from the Adriatic coast right up into the Apennine foothills and the border with northern Tuscany.

Flexibility for wine producers is a fundamental principle of the IGT category. This is clearly evident in the Ravenna IGT legal documents, which specifically cite 35 varieties. All of these may be used in varietal wines (with a minimum 85 percent component), and in dual- or multi-variety blends.

Two of the varieties on the list are truly typical of – and more or less unique to – Ravenna. These grapes are Centesimino and Uva Longanesi. Both are virtually unknown to the wider wine world, both saved from the brink of extinction, both uniquely Ravennati. They are used by just a few local producers, and typically in small quantities. Azienda Agricola Leone Conti, however, produces both as single variety wines.

Uva Longanesi is thought to have been growing locally for centuries, but was not propagated or documented until the early 20th Century. A single "mother" vine, from which all living Uva Longanesi vines are descended, was discovered by vineyard owner Antonio Longanesi near his home in Ravenna. There are now roughly 200 hectares (500 acres) planted in the Ravenna province, and varietal Uva Longanesi wines may be made under the Emilia, Forli, Rubicone and Ravenna IGT titles.

At roughly the same time, 25 kilometres (15 miles) to the south, horticulturist Pietro Pianori was propagating pre-phylloxera vines from his garden in Oriolo dei Fichi, a hamlet in the Colli di Faenza hills. These were of an undocumented variety, which would later become officially known as Centesimino (Pianori's nickname). Like Uva Longanesi, Centesimino (which is generally marketed under its synonym Savignon Rosso) may be used for wines produced under the Emilia, Forli, Rubicone and Ravenna IGTs.

Centesimino and Uva Longanesi are just two of several obscure Italian grape varieties "rediscovered" in the 20th Century and now producing small quantities of wine in their home regions. Other members include Uva del Fantini (also from Emilia-Romagna) and Caricalasino from southern Piedmont.

As is typical for IGTs in Emilia-Romagna (the regional home of Lambrusco) the Ravenna title covers not just still wines, but also sparkling wines of various types. These may be red, white or rosato, and vary from fully foaming (spumante) to lightly sparkling (frizzante) and, at the gentlest end of the scale, vivace. A relatively new term in the official Italian wine-labelling lexicon, vivace denotes a gentle spritz. The fizz is lighter than frizzante and roughly equivalent to the French term perlant.

Rosso Passito sweet wines can be made from the same broad grape choice as for dry red wines. Mosto di Uve Parzialmente Fermentado (Must from Partially Fermented Grapes) can also be made in all three colours.

Very little DOC-level wine is made in the Ravenna province, which places particular emphasis of the area's IGTs. The low-lying land between Ravenna and Venice (which are separated by some 75 miles/120km) is almost entirely bereft of wineries or vineyards producing quality wine. The Po Delta is simply too fertile and flood-prone to support quality viticulture.

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