The World's Best Italian Wines
© iStock |
When it comes to quality, Italian goods are off the scale.
Fast cars, fashion, football and food are essential parts of Italian culture and they do them in a way that seems effortless; even the simplest items are made with love and attention to detail – and that's even more the case when it comes to wine.
|Italy's 2021 Vintage: Small but Perfectly Formed|
|The World's Most Expensive Italian Wines|
|Tuscany in a Case|
Italy has a fair claim to being, if not the cradle of wine (I think we can all agree that's Georgia), then at least the nursery of wine. The Romans loved wine so much they planted vineyards wherever they went and are directly responsible for the wine industries of France, Spain and Germany. That historical commitment to the virtues of the vine remains today and quality is a key ingredient of Italian wine's success.
Italy's wines can often seem to be a chaotic jigsaw, with multiple grape varieties in a multitude of regions and appellations (and few countries can boast such a comprehensive vineyard area – it literally stretches the length and breadth of the country), but when it comes to the very top wines, there are really only two regions we need concern ourselves with.
With all due respect to fans of Amarone, Alto Adige and Etna, Italy's best wines – at least according to the critics – come from Tuscany and Piedmont. That might sound like a bald statement, but the proof is on our list below, where the top 10 is evenly split between the two. Looking at the wider list of Italy's top 25 wines shows just three wines from outside that northwest cartel making the cut – two from Kellerei Terlan in Trentino-Alto Adige (the Rarity white blend and the I Primo white blend) and the Guiseppe Quintarelli Recioto della Valpolicella Classico from Veneto.
Let's remind ourselves of the rules first. You'll notice on the list below that the wines do not appear to be in numerical order, according to scores, but trust us, they are. The apparent anomalies occur because we weight the aggregated critic score according to how many scores each wine has received. So, a wine with an aggregated score of 93 points across 100 reviews will be rated higher than one with a score of 93 across 50 reviews. Similarly, wines with an ostensibly higher score across a lower number of reviews will not be ranked as high.
This can be seen in the case of the Sandrone wine on the list below; it has an aggregated critic score of 96, but from just 13 reviews, compared to 143 reviews for the top wine, and 229 reviews for the second-placed wine. The scores are also rounded to the nearest number here, but our database runs to four decimal places, ensuring a more robust ranking.
And finally, we have added more critics in the past year, so this year's "best of" series will be more comprehensive than ever.The World's Best Italian Wines on Wine-Searcher:
It's interesting to note the scores this year. When we last ran this list in 2019, seven wines had scores of 95, while three had 94. This time round, there are still three with 94, but there are now two 96-pointers on the list as well, meaning the quality of these wines as measured by major critics is actually rising.
Price is another interesting wrinkle. When we last ran this list, back in 2019, the 10 wines would have set you back $5201, if you added up the global average price. This year, they would cost you $5031 by the same measurement. And that's despite a 20 percent hike in Masseto's average price since 2019, and a 19.5 percent hike for the Occhio di Pernice.
But what's probably most enlightening to see is what's missing since we last ran the list. This year's top five all made the cut back in 2019, but some big names have fallen off – Solaia and Sassicaia, Gaja's Sori Tildin, Miani Calvari Refosco and Avignonesi's standard Vin Santo di Montepulciano. Just about anywhere else, such outstanding wines would represent the jewels in the crown, but in Italy they don't even make the top 10.
Off the chart indeed.