The tradition of Bolognese cuisine, as we know, is preceded by its fame. What is perhaps lesser known, is the fact that excellent local wines are grown on the rolling hills that unravel from Imola towards the regional capital and continue towards the area of Modena.
Here, where Emilia meets Romagna on the one hand and consolidates itself towards the west on the other, walking among the rows of vines means travelling through the history of the aromas and flavours of these places that have been inhabited and cultivated since time immemorial.
The winemaking tradition of the area has a very ancient history, which begins in the Etruscan period and continues with the Romans. Various types of vines, both indigenous and non-indigenous, grow on this hilly terrain and the neighbouring plains.
The oldest and best known local grape variety is Pignoletto. Pliny the Elder, in his work “Naturalis Historia”, defines it as “Pino Lieto”, or rather a wine that is “not sweet enough to be good”. It obtained a DOC label in 1985 and today it is the flagship wine of the Colli Bolognesi winegrowers.
There are three types of Pignoletto: sparkling, still and spumante. Pignoletto has a delicate flavour and bouquet and is excellent as an aperitif and for enjoying convivial moments, typical of the character of the inhabitants of the area.
Another indigenous white grape variety is Alionza; it is less well known and its origin is uncertain. It has been cultivated in the province of Bologna for several years and the grape is known in the area as Uva Schiava, probably due to the possible origin from Slavic countries or because of the type of row pruning.
Among the range of PDO white wines from the area, the imported vines include Pinot Bianco, Riesling Italino, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Trebbiano. A special mention goes to the DOCG wine, Albana di Romagna, which is also grown on the hills around Imola. This was the first Italian white wine to be awarded the DOCG certification (Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin), reserved for dry, sweet and passito types of wine.
Among the red grape varieties, however, the only indigenous grape is Negrettino (or Negretto), one of the lesser known grape varieties of Emilia-Romagna, which is the only Italian region in which it is planted. In the past, the name indicated the vines that had a particularly dark coloured grape. In recent years, almost all the old vineyards have been torn down and only the Consorzio Vini Colli Bolognesi has saved some of the more interesting biotypes. The grape produces a simple and pleasant-smelling wine that goes well with Emilian cuisine.
Other red grape varieties grown here are Barbera, Merlot, Sangiovese (a wine typical of Romagna grown in the area of Imola) and Cabernet Sauvignon, which is also used for producing Rosso Bologna, a wine with a ruby red colour and an intense, pleasant and herbaceous bouquet.
The Bolognese and Imola winegrowers refer to a number of Consortia. The consortium for winemakers in the Bologna area is the Consorzio dei Vini Colli Bolognesi. It was established in 1971 by the merger of two historic consortia for the protection of wine, Monte San Pietro and Vini Castelli Medievali, it brings together 96% of the Colli Bolognesi DOC and DOCG producers for the joint protection of the history and culture of the territory and to the enhancement and conservation of wines. Many winegrowers offer guided tours of their cellars and tastings. Every year in September, the Consortium organises the Sagra del Vino dei Colli Bolognesi (Wine Festival of the Bolognese Hills).
The main grape varieties used to produce DOC Colli Bolognesi wines are:
The consortium for winemakers in the Imola area, on the other hand, is the Consorzio dei Vini di Romagna. Established in 1962, it brings together wine cellars, winegrowers and wineries to protect the production of wines from Romagna. It aims to give value to the product and the area, monitor the quality of the wine and encourage price stability.
During the year it organises public events to raise awareness about local wines.
Among its members there are 5,200 wineries registered in the DOC and DOCG vineyard registers, 7 cooperative wineries, 103 winemakers and 6 bottlers, many of which offer tours and tastings.
The main grape varieties used to produce DOC Colli d’Imola wines are:
Sangiovese, a typical wine from Romagna
There is also the Regional Enoteca found in the basement of the Rocca Sforzesca in the village of Dozza. The association has been working since 1970 to promote and give value to regional wine products.
Enthusiasts can find over 200 wine labels, but there is also balsamic vinegar and spirits.
The ideal place to taste wine, thanks to the 16 Wine Dispensers that allow visitors to get to know the wines on their own. Wine tasting can also be accompanied by typical products of the region, such as cured meats and cheeses.
Consorzio Colli Bolognesi: Via Abbazia, 30/c – 40050 Monteveglio (BO)
Consorzio Vini di Romagna: Via Tebano 45 – 48018 Faenza (RA)
Enoteca Regionale: Piazza Rocca Sforzesca, 40060, Dozza (BO)