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Autochtona 2012: Opportunity to Taste Italian Native Wines

Posted: Monday, 30 July 2012 10:14

Autochtona 2012: Opportunity to Taste Italian Native Wines

July 30 : Italy is known for hundreds of indigenous wine grape varieties with each region boasting of several rare forms that perhaps only a few producers are growing throughout the world. Autochtona 2012 is an Italian Forum on autochthonous Italian wines, focusing on the most typical products and for specialist visitors who may enjoy some of the unique wines at Fiera Bolzano on October 22-23.

One of the most commonly used words in Italian viticulture, from Piemonte to Sicily and Friuli to Puglia is ‘autochthonous’ that perplexes many non Italians. It refers simply to a variety which is native to a vineyard, area or the region, as opposed to what are known as the international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling etc.

Exotic varieties such as Lacrima de Morro Alba from Marche, Bonarda from Emila Romagna, Coda di Volpa and Susumaniello from Puglia, Erbaluce, Freisa and Favorita and Ucelino, Grignolino and Ruché from Piemonte, Pecorino from Abruzzo, Monica from Sardegna, Olivella from Frosinone in Lazio, and Schioppetino from Friuli Venezia Giulia can keep you busy tasting the varietals some of which have an international taste that would please the non-local palate as well as offering a variety and uniqueness that is a signature strength of Italian winemaking.

The 9th Forum on autochthonous, native wines is being held in conjunction with Hotel 2012, the international Fair for the hotel and gastronomy sector at the Fiera Bolzano Exhibition Center on October 22 and 23. Two days of wine tasting involving the best native Italian wines will provide an opportunity to meet several passionate producers, many of whom are carrying on the tradition or even reviving the grape varieties that are almost extinct.

Organised in collaboration with AIS, the Italian Sommelier Association, the organizers have planned in such a way to allow the professionals- restaurateurs, sommeliers, hoteliers and other professionals - to concentrate on these varieties during these two days.

The interest of visitors and exhibitors has been on the increase. The number of exhibitors, for example, has risen from 35 in 2010 to 56 in 2011, with over 100 wine-making companies represented directly by their owners or by their representatives. ‘Autochtona’ also focuses on more unusual or ancient native grape varieties. These are frequently related to small territorial areas and are much specialised, giving the visitors an opportunity to taste some unique wines.  Over 1,300 registered professional visitors are expected to mix with the roughly 18,000 visitors who normally attend the Hotel exhibition area.

“Autoctoni che passione” (Autochthonous, with passion) and "Tasting Lagrein” competitions are the two key events of this Show. Lagrein is a very interesting grape of Alto Adige that goes very well with Indian food and is a very palatable varietal-not all autochthonous varieties may be palatable for India or wine drinkers in other countries and are acquired tastes. It’s their uniqueness and limited availability, however, that separates them from the rest of the more popular indigenous varieties, like say, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Prosecco or Pinot Grigio (which is now grown in several countries).

The organizers have been gradually restricting the admission criteria which makes it that much more focused and important to visit to get a taste of these unique varieties- for the third year in a row, Autochtona consolidates itself as a showcase for Italian wine labels with at least 95% native grape variety content. Participation is reserved for companies with a limited volume of production, and for consortia and wine heritage organizations like protection consortia (tutela Consorzio), local wine associations, etc. Autochtona Awards in six different categories will also be awarded. After its success last year, the "Tasting Lagrein" event will also return, culminating in the Lagrein Award based on several prominent judges and specialists.

The Forum focuses on buyers, chefs, sommeliers and prestigious wine journalists from Italy and abroad. It should find a lot of interest among those who love Italian wines and are looking for unique and exclusive wines for their clients. Since several hotel industry personnel find Italian hotel equipment very useful and attractive, they could also visit the Hotels 2012 and taste wines at the Autochtona.  If you are planning a trip to Italy or Europe around that time, it might be a good idea to combine it with a visit to Bolzano and the Show may be well worth a visit.

For more information visit

For the novices who are interested in the world of wine beyond the glass, it must be stressed that most of the European countries have been making wine for hundreds, if not thousands, of years and based on the history have had their share of indigenous varieties specific to their countries and regions, including France, Spain and Portugal, depending upon the influence. Even Austria, Germany, Greece, Georgia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey etc, have all got a fair share of indigenous grapes in their baskets, making the job of an ampelographer very interesting, complex  and making us claim that one lifetime is not enough to know all about wine-editor


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