It's almost impossible to find out the precise number of grape varieties
planted in Italy, owing to a combination of synonyms and viticultural and bureaucratic chaos. Most UK consumers probably couldn't care less. As long as Italy produces Pinot Grigio, who wants to know about Fiano, Aglianico, Barbera or Corvina?
The phenomenon is almost impossible to explain - unless consumers enjoy drinking wines that taste of very little - but a phenomenon it is. Nearly a third of Italian wine sales in the UK are now Pinot Grigio, some of it (look for the brand extension) red or pink. In the last
year, Pinot Grigio sales have increased by 1 million cases to 3.1 million cases. There is even talk of a shortage .
While some commentators, this one included, bemoan Pinot Grigio's rise , Tesco's Dan Jago sees a positive side . " It has made consumers more confident when it comes to buying Italian white
like Gavi and Fiano." Let's hope so. Italy's white wines have really improved in the last five years and most
are considerably more interesting than Pinot Grigio.
On the red front, Italy had very good vintages in
2004 and 2005. And there are signs
consumers are finally moving beyond
names such as Valpolicella, Chianti and Barolo to experience more of what 's on offer. Over the next 12 months, it would be a pleasure to report growth across the full range of Italy's wine styles.