As you wander through the Bologna hills, you will soon chance upon the endless rows of vineyards where the delectable Colli Bolognesi wines come from. The vines growing in this area have a long history, which begins in the Etruscan civilisation and carries on into Roman times.
With their differing microclimates and altitudes that rise up to 450 metres above sea level, these vineyards grow a range of vine varieties that are just as diverse. PDO Colli Bolognesi wine includes PDO Colli Bolognesi Sauvignon Blanc, PDO Colli Bolognesi Pinot Bianco, PDO Colli Bolognesi Riesling Italico and PDO Colli Bolognesi Chardonnay by way of white wines, whilst reds include PDO Colli Bolognesi Barbera, PDO Colli Bolognesi Merlot and PDO Colli Bolognesi Cabernet Sauvignon. Many of these vine varieties are allochthonous, meaning they have been cultivated at a distance from where they originated from, but this area provides an ideal habitat for them to grow in.
Focusing now on the typical vine varieties of the area, the most historical is without a doubt Pignoletto, an indigenous variety that gives life to a range of distinctive white wines. The history of this variety dates all the way back to Pliny the Elder, who in the 1st century BC described it as “Pino Lieto: not sweet enough to be good.”
Present-day Pignoletto dates back to 1985 when it obtained the DOC (Controlled Designation of Origin) label, alongside the renewed passion of many winemakers who have since turned it into the flagship wine of their wineries. Although Pignoletto is grown in other parts of the Emilia-Romagna region, the most important area where this particular wine is made still lies in the hills to the south of Bologna.
Three types of Pignoletto are available to buy on the market: the most classic version is fizzy, but it can also be still or sparkling. This wine affords a delicate taste and aroma, whilst the PDO Colli Bolognesi Pignoletto Classico Superiore type can be up to 12 percent alcohol. This is a great wine to serve as an appetiser, perhaps paired with truffle on grilled slices of bread.
In towns in the area where this wine is produced, wine-growers refer to the Consorzio Vini Colli Bolognesi consortium, which was founded in 1971 to protect the products’ identity. One particular initiative to promote these wines takes place every year in Monte San Pietro, in the Bologna area: the Colli Bolognesi Wine Festival, organised by the local grassroots association.