Best Italian Wines of 2012 From Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast Magazines

The Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast magazines are the two most popularl general interest guides to the world of wine published in the U.S. Along with Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, their ratings and recommendations carry a lot of weight in establishing a wine’s popularity and price in the marketplace. An “excellent” evaluation from any one of these rating organizations is typically followed by a surge in demand for the highly-rated wine that almost ensures that it will be swept off wine shop shelves. From the producer’s perspective, the high rating is treated as a market validation of the winemaker’s skills and, perhaps more importantly, gives the winery greater flexibility in pricing its wine glass with decanter

Both the Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast magazines recently published their annual selections for the 100 best wines from around the world released in 2012.  Their lists of the top 100 wines are based on wines reviewed by their respective staffs over the course of the year and both included a significant number of Italian wines.

As in previous years, there is no overlay in the Italian wines included in the top 100 listings put forward by the two magazines.

Before looking at which Italian wines were selected, it’s interesting to take a brief look at the overall distribution of wines from around the world selected by each of the magazines.

Wine Spectator’s top 100 picks are selected from the more than 17,000 newly-released wines reviewed by the magazine’s staff over the course of the year. Of these, more than 5,500 were rated outstanding (90 points or more) and constituted the initial candidates for the top 100 list.

Thirteen countries are included in the Wine Spectator’s list of the top 100 wines. Perhaps not surprisingly, the largest number of wines selected is from U.S. producers with 32 U.S. wines included in the top 100. All of the U.S. wines are from the west coast with the majority from California (23) and the rest from Washington (5) and Oregon (4).

France came in second with 23 wines followed by Italy with 16 wines and Spain with 9 wines in the top 100.

The Wine Spectator’s top wine of the year is the 2008 vintage “Relentless”, a Syrah and Petite Sirah blend from the Shafer winery in California’ s Napa Valley.

The 16 Italian wines in the Wine Spectator’s top 100 are down from the 20 Italian wines that appeared in last year’s top 100. Piedmont (5) and Tuscany (7) dominate the Italian selections with only 4 from the rest of Italy. 2007 and 2008 were outstanding vintages in both Piedmont and Tuscany.

The top-rated Italian wine is a 2007 Brunello di Montalcino from the Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona estate, which ranked number nine in Wine Spectator’s top 100.

Presented below are the details for the Italian wines included in the top 100 wines for 2012 as put forward by Wine Spectator Magazine.

Italian Wines in Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2012
Rank Score Producer Wine Vintage Price  
9 94 Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona Brunello di Montalcino 2007 $60  
17 95 Punset Barbaresco 2007 $40  
24 96 Elio Grasso "Vigna Chiniera" Barolo Gavarini 2008 $57  
25 96 Fontodi "Flaccianello" Colli della Toscana Centrale 2009 $119  
31 92 Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva 2009 $25  
41 93 Folonari Chianti 2010 $9  
44 96 Giuseppe Mascarello & Figlio "Monprivato" Barolo 2007 $125  
46 90 Roberto Anselmi "San Vincenzo" Veneto IGT White  2010 $13  
47 90 Michele Chiarlo  "Le Orme" Barbera d'Asti Superiore 2009 $15  
49 92 Vecchia Cantina di Montepulciano "Leone d'Oro" Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2009 $24  
52 90 Cavit "Alta Luna Phases" Vigneti delle Dolomite Red 2009 $14  
66 90 Marchesi di Barolo "Maraia" Barbera del Monferrato 2011 $12  
69 92 Antonio Caggiano "Devon" Greco di Tufo 2011 $25  
81 93 Collosorbo Brunello di Montalcino 2007 $48  
86 94 Brancaia "Ilatraia" Maremma Toscana 2010 $60  
100 90 Donnachiara Aglianico Irpinia 2008 $20  
    Average price     $42  
Source: Wine Spectator Magazine, December 31, 2012      

Members of Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s rating panel evaluated more than 15,500 wines in 2012. The Wine Enthusiast’s list of the top 100 wines of the year includes 30 wines from the U.S. with the majority of these from California but with a strong contingent from Washington and Oregon making an appearance in the top 100 listing. Following the U.S., France has 19 wines while Italy has 17 wines in the top 100. Wines from Spain, South Africa and Portugal are also well represented.

The top-ranked wine in Wine Enthusiast’s top 100 list is a 2009 “Gran Corte”, a Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc blend from the Las Divas Vineyard in Argentina’s Mendoza Valley.

As usual, Tuscany fared well with 7 of the 17 Italian wines in Wine Enthusiast’s top 100 from Tuscan wineries, primarily Brunello di Montalcino wines from southern Tuscany. As mentioned previously, the 2007 vintage in Tuscany was outstanding and produced wines of structure and elegance. Three wines from the Piedmont region are included in Wine Enthusiast’s top 100 listing as are 3 wines from Sicily.

The top-ranked Italian wine in Wine Enthusiast’s top 100 is a 2007 Brunello di Montalcino from the Casanova di Neri estate which garnered the number 4 position in the top 100.

Presented below are the details for the Italian wines included in Wine Enthusiast Magazine's top 100 wines for 2012.  

Italian Wines in Wine Enthusiast's Top 100 Wines of 2012
Rank Score Producer Wine Vintage Price  
4 97 Casanova di Neri "Tenuta Nuova" Brunello di Montalcino 2007 $79  
13 95 La Mannella Brunello di Montalcino 2007 $47  
19 94 Barberani "Calcaia" Orvieto Classico Superiore 2008 $35  
21 93 Bonacchi "Casolino" Brunello di Montalcino 2007 $25  
27 94 Molino di Sant'Antimo Brunello di Montalcino 2007 $40  
34 95 PianCornello Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2007 $70  
39 94 Andriano "Juvelo" Gewurztraminer Alto Adige 2009 $50  
46 92 Castello Banfi "Florus" Moscadello di Montalcino 2010 $20  
53 95 Donnafugata "Ben Rye" Passito di Pantelleria  2010 $40  
63 92 Poggio al Tesoro "Mediterra" Toscana 2009 $25  
72 93 Giulia Negri "La Tartufaia" Barolo 2007 $45  
80 92 Nais Margreid "Punggi" Pinot Grigio Alto Adige 2011 $30  
85 93 Girolamo Russo "San Lorenzo" Etna 2009 $55  
88 92 Cusumano "Moscato dello Zucco" Sicilia 2008 $31  
91 93 Begali "Monte Ca' Bianca" Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2007 $58  
95 92 Pertinace Barolo 2008 $35  
98 92 Pietro Rinaldi "San Cristoforo" Barbaresco 2009 $36  
    Average price     $42  
Source: Wine Enthusiast Magazine, December 31, 2012      


Richard Marcis
December 12, 2012

Read other selections from About Italian Wines.

Copyright 2008-2016, Richard Marcis. All rights reserved.