Best Italian Wines of 2014 From Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast Magazines

It’s human nature to make lists of our favorite things and, in some cases, lists of our major dislikes. We want to memorialize our experiences and categorize them according to their relative interest and significance to us.

And so it goes with the Wine Spectator and the Wine Enthusiast, two of the world’s most prestigious wine-centric magazines. Both magazines are highly regarded and they, along with the Wine Advocate, are influential in establishing a wine’s - and the producing winery’s - reputation and popularity.

glasses of white and red wineEach year, both the Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast publish their annual list of the top 100 wines from around the world released that year. Both magazines’ choices of the top 100 wines are based on surveys of the wines reviewed by their respective staffs over the course of the year.

Not surprisingly, both lists include a number of Italian wines and I think it’s interesting to examine exactly what wines are included and to compare their choices.

The Wine Spectator (WS) staff tasted approximately 18,000 wines in 2014. Of these, 5,400 wines were rated as outstanding (90 points or higher on WS’s 100 point scale) and it is from this short list that the WS staff selects the 100 wines they find most compelling. WS based their selections on considerations such as quality (as indicated by their staff’s scores), value (judged by the wine’s release price), availability (determined by the number of cases produced or exported to the U.S.) and a cryptic “x-factor” that they define as “the intensity of interest the wines excited by way of their singularity or authenticity.”

Fifteen countries are represented in the WS top 100 wine list. As in past years California accounts for the largest portion of wines in the top 100 but France, Italy and Spain are also well represented in the top 100. WS’s top wine of the year is Dow’s 2011 Vintage Porto from the Douro River Valley in Portugal.

However, Italian wines fared well with 19 Italian wines appearing in the top 100, two more entries than in the previous year. The highest-rated Italian wine in the top 100 is a 2010 Chianti Classico from the Castello di Ama winery, ranked 6th in the top 100 and that retails for $52.

Approximately three-quarters of the Italian wines in the WS top 100 are from the Tuscany and Piedmont regions. Tuscany accounts for 8 wines in the top 100, all from 2010 or 2011 which are excellent vintages for Tuscan wines. This included not only Chianti Classico wines but several Super-Tuscans as well as a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. However, southern Italy was also well represented with either 4 or 5 wines - depending on whether you want to include the Ramitello Rosso from the Di Majo Norante estate in the Molise region in the “southern” category.

Even though three Italian wines in the top 100 retail for $120 or more the list includes a number of relatively inexpensive Italian wines -  9 of the wines retail for $25 or less. The average price of the 19 Italian wines is $55.

             
  Italian Wines in Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2014  
   
 
Rank
Producer
Wine
Vintage
Price
 
 
6
Castello di Ama "San Lorenzo" Chianti Classico 
2010
$52
 
 
14
Fontodi "Flaccianello della Pieve" Colli della Toscana Centrale
2011
$120
 
 
21
Castello di Volpaia Chianti Classico Riserva
2010
$29
 
 
22
Podere Sapaio "Volpolo" Bolgheri DOC
2011
$35
 
 
24
Massolino Barolo
2009
$60
 
 
31
Tommasi  "Poggio al Tufo Rompicollo" Maremma Toscana
2011
$18
 
 
37
Giuseppe Cortese "Rabajà" Barbaresco 
2010
$55
 
 
39
Oddero Barolo
2010
$49
 
 
47
Luce della Vite "Luce" Toscana
2011
$105
 
 
51
Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo Brunate
2010
$129
 
 
65
Ornellaia Bolgheri Superiore
2011
$240
 
 
69
Feudo di Santa Croce  "Celebration LXXIV" Primitivo di Manduria
2010
$22
 
 
74
Di Majo Norante "Ramitello" Rosso
2011
$18
 
 
76
Vietti "Tre Vigne" Barbera d'Asti 
2012
$17
 
 
80
Nino Negri "Quadrio" Valtellina Superiore 
2010
$20
 
 
85
Masciarelli "Marina Cvetic" Montepulciano d'Abruzzo  
2010
$25
 
 
87
Ferriato "Santagostino Baglio Soria" Rosso
2011
$23
 
 
92
Vecchia Cantina  Vino Nobile de Montepulciano
2010
$15
 
 
97
Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso
2012
$22
 
  Average price
$55
 
   
  Source: Wine Spectator Magazine, December 31, 2014  
  The complete list of 100 top wines can be viewed at WS website.  
             

The Wine Enthusiast (WE) list of the top 100 wines of 2014 includes 31 wines from the U.S. of which California has the highest number of entries. Oregon and Washington State are also are well represented with 5 and 8 wines, respectively. There is a tie for 2nd place with France and Italy each having 17 wines in the top 100. Spain and Portugal are also well represented with 7 and 6 wines, respectively, in WE’s top 100.

The top-rated wine in WE’s top 100 list is a 2012 Pinot Noir from Ken Wright Cellars in rural Carlton, Oregon that retails for $65. In second place is a white Italian wine, a 2011 Chianti Classico from the Pieropan winery in Soave in the Veneto region that sells for $30.

Of the 17 Italian wines in WE’s top 100, 9 are from northern Italy and include 4 Barolo and 2 Barbaresco wines. Tuscany accounts for 5 wines, primarily Super-Tuscans and Chianti Classico wines from the 2010 and 2011 vintages. Surprisingly, no Brunello wines make the list. Southern Italy is represented by 3 wines in the top 100 of which 2 are white wines from the Mount Etna zone in eastern Sicily.

The highest priced Italian wine in the top 100 list is the 2010 “Ravera” Barolo from the Ferdinando Principiano winery in Monforte d'Alba in the Piedmont region that retails for $80. The average price of the 17 Italian wines in WS’s top 100 is $40.

             
  Italian Wines in Wine Enthusiast's Top 100 Wines of 2014  
   
 
Rank
Producer
Wine
Vintage
Price
 
 
2
Pieropan "La Rocca" Soave Classico
2011
$31
 
 
6
Guido Porro "Vigna Santa Caterina" Barolo
2010
$46
 
 
12
Russiz Superiore Sauvignon Blanc  
2012
$26
 
 
16
Monchiero "Rocca di Castiglione Falletto" Barolo
2010
$40
 
 
20
Benanti "Pietramarina" Etna Bianco Superiore
2010
$25
 
 
30
Grifalco "Damaschito" Aglianico del Vulture
2009
$33
 
 
36
Pasquale Pelissero "Bricco San Giuliano" Barbaresco
2011
$37
 
 
39
Monteraponi "Il Campitello" Chianti Classico Riserva
2010
$55
 
 
42
Sordo "Gabutti" Barolo
2010
$55
 
 
46
Cottanera Etna Bianco
2012
$25
 
 
50
San Felice "Il Grigio" Chianti Classico Riserva
2010
$26
 
 
53
Ferdinando Principiano  "Ravera" Barolo
2010
$80
 
 
57
Felsina "Fontalloro" Toscana 
2010
$62
 
 
72
Michele Satta "Piastraia" Bolgheri Rosso
2010
$50
 
 
78
Abbazia di Novacella "Praepositus" Kerner
2012
$35
 
 
81
Cantina di Nebbiolo Barbaresco
2011
$32
 
 
93
Le Chiuse Rosso di Montalcino
2012
$30
 
  Average price
$40
 
   
  Source: Wine Enthusiast Magazine, December 31, 2014  
The complete list of 100 top wines can be viewed at the WE website.  
             

All in all, WS and WE magazines' listings of their top wines for 2014 indicate another good year for Italian wines on the world stage.

Return to About Italian Wines

©Richard Marcis
November 24, 2014

 

 

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