Romagna occupies the southwestern sector of the Regione Emilia-Romagna. It is an extremely diverse area extending over about 8,000 km2, from the coastal areas of Rimini and Riccione to east of Bologna.
Between the two extremities are gentle hills that yield some of the best - and best-known - wines of the Region. Since 1962 the Consorzio Vini di Romagna, whose seal bears an image of Il Passatore, the 18th Century outlaw-adventurer, has represented most of the winemakers in this area.
Today the Consorzio counts about 100 wine producers, ranging from small estates to major cooperative wineries. And though Romagna boasts many appellations and varietals, two stand out above the rest: Albana di Romagna and Sangiovese di Romagna.
Albana is the classic Romagnan varietal. The first official mention dates to 1495, but it was already known at the time of the Romans. It is grown exclusively in Romagna - Bertinoro, in the Province of Forlì, is considered the heart of its production - and yields a white of high lineage, which was, among other things, the first Italian white to attain DOCG status, in 1987.
The 62 wineries that produce it offer several interpretations: secco (dry), amabile (demi-sec), dolce (sweet), passito (made with dried grapes) and passito Riserva. They all share straw yellow color, tending towards golden (amber in the passito), are somewhat tannic, and present warm dry flavors, in the dry version, or silky fruity flavors in the sweet and passito versions.
And if Albana is the Queen of Romagna's wines, the King is without doubt Sangiovese di Romagna. The Sangiovese di Romagna appellation, established in 1967, is but a part of the long tradition of this area, where Sangiovese has been grown for centuries (it is mentioned in farm registers dating to the 1700s).
Within the DOC there are four subdivisions: Sangiovese di Romagna Novello, Sangiovese di Romagna, and two that are more renowned, Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore and Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore Riserva.
"Superiore" in this case does not refer to organoleptic qualities, but rather indicates that the grapes were grown to the south of the Via Emilia, and in any case, that the wine's alcohol content is not less than 12 Vol%. When the word "Riserva" is added, it means that the wine is aged for at least two years, unlike the Superiore, which can be released on April 1 of the year following the harvest.
The characteristics of the wines of this DOC, which must consist of at least 85% Sangiovese, are ruby red color with violet reflections, floral bouquet with violet and blackberry accents, dry, balanced palate, and silky tannins. These wines display a distinctive balance between elegance and structure, a balance that makes them top quality wines capable of aging at length in the cellar.
173 wineries produce this renowned wine, and many, which enjoy both critical and commercial success, are also exported.