Head south of Parma, and among the the foothills of the Apennine mountain range, you’ll discover the valleys and lands that play a large role in the winemaking of the region, particularly of Colli di Parma wines. These wines have been made here for centuries, ever since Napoleon’s time. That’s when Maria Luisa of Austria moved to the region, along with some French officials, and took up residence in the area’s villas. While living there, they began producing a variety of wines. Today, the same kind of grapes — Barbera, Bonaria, and/or Croatina — are used to make an amazing array of red, white, and sparkling DOC wines that are enjoyed all over the world.
Colli di Parma wines are most associated with sparkling wines, but reds and whites are also produced quite abundantly as well. Just some of the reds made in this part of Emilia Romagna include Cabernet Sauvingon, Merlot, Pinot Nero (their version of Pinot Noir), Cabernet Franc, Sangiovese, Barbera, and Bonarda. Many of these ruby red wines pair particularly well with roasted and braised meats, as well as the region’s famous Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Whites too have a foothold in the region, such as Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Malvasia di Candia. While most go well with the locally-produced prosciutto, its the aromatic Sauvignon that pairs best with the famed culatello, as well as other starters and vegetables.
Even with the prevalence of whites and reds, it really is the sparkling, frizz ante and spumante, wines that reign supreme in this part of Emilia-Romagna, all of which you can try during our Emilia-Romagna cooking vacations. One particularly popular, and well-regarded, sparkling Colli di Parma wine is the bold Malvasia, particularly Malvasia di Candia. This wine pairs well with salami and first courses, especially tortilla and lamb.
Lambrusco too is making a comeback of sorts. After being extraordinarily popular in the 1970s and 1980s, it fell out of favor as it came to be regarded as a soda-pop of wines. But it is not longer like a fizzy soda. Rather, it has an earthy, dry, and slightly bitter taste that is perfect for a Summer day. It also goes well with pork, cured meats, and anything barbecued really.
Discover the many wines of the Colli di Parma DOC region with a trip to Italy. Both our Flavors of the Real Italian Countryside and Foodie Tour on the Via Emilia: Parma and Bologna culinary vacations include a trip to a wine cellar as well as tastings of these fabulous wines.
By Liz Hall
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