Forty Great Italian Wines Every Wine Enthusiast should try

Italy is one of the oldest and largest wine producing regions in the world. Grapes have been grown for purposes of producing wines in Italy for at least 3,000 years and today wines are produced in every one of Italy’s 20 regions.

Italian wines today are celebrated for both their quality and variety. Some wines like Amarone della Valpolicella, Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello di Montalcino and Passito di Pantelleria are prized by wine enthusiasts around the world. Other wines like Prosecco, Chianti and Pinot Grigio may lack the quality credentials of the other wines but they nonetheless are extremely popular and enjoyed around the world.

Since Italy has an astonishing array of grape varieties and wine styles it can make the task of selecting the best wines of Italy a daunting task. Despite the challenges, it’s both interesting and worthwhile to try to identify what wines are really the best among the many that Italy produces.

Red wine with biscotti and fruitSince there are a lot of really good wines in Italy from which to choose, I had to put a cap on the number of wines selected and limited the number to 40. Since Italy produces a lot really good wines the competition for a spot on this list of 40 is really tough. There were no set, formal criteria to the selection process other than my own sense of quality: these are the wines that have most impressed me at various tastings over time and that consistently garner high praise from both wine cognoscenti and wine rating organizations.

The wines could be red or white, dry or sweet and price was not a consideration. While many of the wines selected bear price tags well into the triple digits, they are not necessarily Italy’s most expensive wines. I tried to include only those wines that consistently express all that is great about Italian wine and winemaking regardless of price.

With few exceptions, the wines selected are ready to drink now but almost all, and most certainly the red wines, will improve over time with some additional bottle age.  While the following table indicates a specific vintage for pricing purposes, specific vintages are not crucial. While the wines may evidence nuanced differences in character from year to year, they typically will be of consistently of high quality from one year to the next.

While I did try to achieve some regional diversity in the wines selected, certain wine producing areas are more prominently featured in the selections than other regions. While more than half of Italy’s 20 regions are represented in the listing of Italy’s top 40 wines, almost half (19) of the wines selected are from two regions – Tuscany and Piedmont. Primarily because of the inclusion of many super-Tuscan wines, Tuscany itself accounts for over one-third of the total.

So here they are, my picks for the forty best wines of Italy. The wines are listed alphabetically by wine name. 



Forty Great Italian Wines Every Wine Enthusiast Should Try
  Wine  Producer Region Year Type
  Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Giuseppe Quintarelli Veneto 2004 Red
  Annamaria Clementi Franciacorta Ca' del Bosco Lombardy 2005 Sparkling
  Asinone Vino Nobile di Montepulciano  Poliziano Tuscany 2007 Red
  Barbaresco Santo Stefano di Neive  Bruno Giacosa  Piedmont 2007 Red
  Barolo Bartolo Mascarello Piedmont 2008 Red
  Barolo Cannubi Boschis Sandrone Piedmont 2006 Red
  Barolo Monfortino Giacomo Conterno Piedmont 2006 Red
  Bolgheri Sassicaia Tenuta San Guido Tuscany 2008 Red
  Ben Rye Passito di Pantelleria Donnafugata Sicily 2010 Sweet
  Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Greppo  Biondi-Santi  Tuscany 2004 Red
  Calcaia Orvieto Classico Superiore Barberani Umbria 2007 Sweet
  Camartina Querciabella Tuscany 2007 Red
  Cervaro della Sala Castello della Sala Umbria 2010 White
  Don Anselmo Aglianico del Vulture Paternoster Basilicata 2005 Red
  Faro Palari Sicily 2007 Red
  Flaccianello delle Pieve Tenuta Fontodi Tuscany 2007 Red
Tuscany 2007 Red
  Langhe Nebbiolo Sori San Lorenzo Gaja Piedmont 2006 Red
  Le Pergole Torte Montevertine Tuscany 2010 Red
  Masseto Tenuta dell'Ornellaia Tuscany 2000 Red
  Messorio Le Macchiole Tuscany 2005 Red
  Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Valentini Abruzzo 2006 Red
  Montevetrano Montevetrano Campania 2007 Red
  Ornellaia Tenuta Dell'Ornellaia Tuscany 2008 Red
  Paglia Sagrantino di Montefalco Paolo Bey Umbria 2007 Red
  Redigaffi Tua Rita Tuscany 2007 Red
  Ribolla Gialla Gravner Friuli Venezia Giulia 2004 White
  Sagrantino di Montefalco 25 Anni Arnaldo-Caprai Umbria 2008 Red
  Solaia Marchesi Antinori  Tuscany 2006 Red
  Taurasi Radici Riserva Mastroberardino Campania 2006 Red
  Terra di Lavoro Roccamonfina Galardi Campania 2004 Red
  Tignanello Antinori Tuscany 1997 Red
  Trebbiano d'Abruzzo Valentini Abruzzo 2009 White
  Turriga Isola dei Nuraghi Argiolas Sardinia 2006 Red
  Valtellina Sfursat 5 Stelle Nino Negri Lombardy 2007 Red
  Vigna d'Alceo  Castello dei Rampolla Tuscany 2005 Red
  Vigneto di Monte Lodoletta Amarone della Valpolicella  Romano Dal Forno Veneto 2008 Red
  Vintage Tunina Jermann Vinnaioli  Friuli Venezia Giulia 2008 White
  Vin Santo di Montepulciano Avignonesi Tuscany 2008 Sweet
  * 500 ml bottle            
  ** 375 ml bottle            


©Richard Marcis
March 15, 2015

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