Best Italian Wines of 2015 From Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast Magazines

Each year Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast Magazines publish comprehensive lists of the top 100 wines released that year from around the world. The Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast are prestigious wine-centric magazines and they, along with the Wine Advocate, are immensely influential in establishing a wine’s reputation and popularity.

Both the Wine Spectator (WS) and Wine Enthusiast (WE) magazines include only those wines that have been reviewed and evaluated by their respective staffs over the course of the year. If a wine has not been submitted for review it is not eligible for consideration for the Top 100 list.

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.

WS has released its list of the top 100 wines each year since 1988. Of the thousands of wines reviewed by WS in 2015 only those rated as outstanding (90 points or higher on WS’s 100 point scale) by the magazine’s staff are considered for inclusion in the Top 100 wines. For 2015, this amounted to approximately 5,700 wines.

glass of red wine with table settingWS bases their selections not only on quality (as indicated by WS staff’s scores) but also considers factors such as value (judged by the wine’s release price), availability (determined by wine’s general availability in U.S. markets) and an “x-factor” that WS cryptically defines as “the intensity of interest the wines generated by way of their singularity or authenticity.”

Fourteen countries are represented in WS’s 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 the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon from the Peter Michael estate in Oakville, California. Its retail price is $192. In fact, 4 of the top 5 wines are by U.S. producers.

The average score and price for WS’s Top 100 wines are 93 points and $47, approximately the same as the previous year.

Italian wines fared well with 19 Italian wines appearing in WS’s Top 100, the same number as the previous year. The highest-rated Italian wine in WS’s Top 100 is a 2010 Brunello di Montalcino from the Il Poggione winery. It placed 4th and has a suggested retail price of $85.

Brunello wines did extremely well in WS’s listing with 5 Brunello di Montalcino wines included in its Top 100 list. All the Brunello wines are from the excellent 2010 vintage. Due to perfect climatic conditions and a longer than usual growing season in the Montalcino area, the 2010 vintage produced rich and powerful yet refined red wines. And unlike some other years, the 2010 vintage was uniformly excellent with producers throughout the various subzones that comprise the Brunello DOCG all producing excellent wines.

Eleven of the 19 Italian wines in WS’s Top 100 are from the Tuscany region. Oher wines from the Tuscany region include several super-Tuscan wines, a vino Nobile di Montepulciano and a Chianti Classico.

Wines from southern Italy also showed well and secured 5 spots in WS’s Top 100. This included 2 from Sicily, 2 from Puglia and 1 from Basilicata. The highest-rated wine from southern Italy was the 2013 Primitivo di Manduria LXXIV from the Feudo di Santa Croce winery in Carosino, Puglia. It ranks 67th in WS’s Top 100 and has a suggested retail price of $22.

The 19 Italian wines vary considerably in price. Three wines have triple-digit retail prices while 5 have retail price tags of $25 or less. The average price of the 19 Italian wines is $55, the same as in the previous year.

The table below presents the wines and relevant information for the 19 Italian wines in Wine Spectator's Top 100 wines of 2015.

Italian Wines in Wine Spectator's Top 100 Wines of 2015

Rank
Score
Producer
Wine
Vintage
Region
Price
4
95
Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino
2010
Tuscany $85
8
95
Masi Serego Aligheiri "Vaio Amaron" Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 
2008
Veneto $85
13
96
La Serena Brunello di Montalcino
2010
Tuscany $60
18
98
Altesino Brunello di Montalcino "Montosoli"
2010
Tuscany $125
26
93
Carpineto Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva
2010
Tuscany $31
27
95
Livio Sassetti Brunello di Montalcino "Pertimali"
2010
Tuscany $55
41
93
Podere Sapaio Bolgheri "Volpolo"
2012
Tuscany $35
43
94
Collosorbo Brunello di Montalcino
2010
Tuscany $50
46
90
Castello d'Albola Chianti Classico
2011
Tuscany $19
50
97
Bartolo Mascarello Barolo
2010
Piedmont $138
52
94
Brancaia "Ilatraia" Rosso Toscana
2012
Tuscany $60
55
92
Arcanum "Il Fauno di Arcanum" Toscana
2010
Tuscany $30
62
93
Oddero Barolo
2011
Piedmont $48
67
91
Feudo di Santa Croce Primitivo di Manduria LXXIV
2013
Puglia $22
71
95
Antinori "Guado al Tasso" Bolgheri Superiore
2012
Tuscany $102
74
90
d'Angelo Aglianico del Vulture
2012
Basilicata $20
87
90
Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso 
2013
Sicily $24
89
90
Zisola  Nero d'Avola Sicilia 
2013
Sicily $26
93
90
Schola Sarmenti "Nerio" Rosso Nardo Riserva
2012
Puglia $22
Average price $55

Source: Wine Spectator Magazine, December 31, 2015

The Wine Enthusiast (WE) list of the top 100 wines of 2015 includes 30 wines from the U.S. of which California, with 17, has the highest number of entries. Washington State and Oregon are also are well represented with 7 and 4 wines, respectively.

France comes in second with 18 wines in WE’s Top 100 with Italy close behind with 17 wines. Spain and Portugal are also well represented with 7 and 5 wines, respectively, in WE’s top 100.

The top-rated wine in WE’s top 100 list is an Italian wine, a 2011 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione from the San Felice winery in the Castelnuovo Berardenga commune in the southern part of the Chianti Classico zone. It has a suggested retail price of $44.

Sixteen other Italian wines made WE’s Top 100 list. Five of the 17 wines are white, an unusually large number especially when compared with the 19 Italian wines in WS’s Top 100 list, all of which are red wines.

The WE list of Top 100 wines is also unusual in another regard - only 2 Brunello wines are included in the Top 100. The impressive 2010 Brunello wines appear to have been overlooked by WE especially when compared with the 5 Brunello wines that made WS’s Top 100 list.

The relative absence of Brunello di Montalcino wines accounts for the relatively low number of Tuscan wines in WE’s top 100. Only 5 wines from Tuscany are included in WE’s Top 100 compared with 11 Tuscan wines that made WS’s Top 100 list. Two Brunellos, 1 Chianti Classico and 2 super-Tuscan wines comprise Tuscany’s participation in WE’s list of the Top 100 wines of 2015.

Four of the 17 Italian wines in WE’s Top 100 list are from the Piedmont region and 4 are from the Veneto region. This may be compared with the 2 Piedmont and 1 Veneto wines in WS’s Top 100 list. Of the 4 Veneto wines, 1 is an Amarone della Valpolicella wine and the other 3 are white wines, one of which is a sparkling Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco.

The most expensive Italian wine in WE’s Top 100 list is the 2011 “Cannubi” Barolo from the Damilano winery in the La Morra commune in the Piedmont region. Only 3 Italian wines have suggested retail prices in excess of $50 compared with 9 similarly-priced Italian wines in WS’s Top 100 list. The 17 Italian wines in WE’s Top 100 have an average price of $41 compared with an average of $55 for the 19 Italian wines in WS’s Top 100 list.

The table below presents the wines and relevant information for the 17 Italian wines in Wine Enthusiast's Top 100 wines of 2015.

    

   Italian Wines in Wine Enthusiast's Top 100 Wines of 2015

Rank
Score
Producer
Wine
Vintage Region
Price
1
95
San Felice "Il Grigio" Gran Selezione Chianti Classico
2011
Tuscany
$44
10
94
Borgo Scopeto "Borgonero" Toscana
2011
Tuscany
$24
17
94
Tenuta Roveglia "Vigna di Catulla" Riserva 
2012
Veneto
$24
23
93
Selvapiana Chianti Rufina
2013
Tuscany
$18
31
95
Guido Porro "Lazzairasco" Barolo
2011
Piedmont
$46
37
95
Molino di Sant'Antimo "Varco" Brunello di Montalcino
2010
Tuscany
$48
41
94
Le Casematte "Quattroenne" Faro
2012
Sicily
$35
54
94
Planeta "Santa Cecilia" DOC Noto
2011
Sicily
$42
57
93
Nino Franco "Vigneto della Riva di San Floriano" Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore
2014
Veneto
$29
60
94
Sottimano Barbaresco
2012
Piedmont
$48
64
93
Pieropan "Calvarino" Soave Classico
2012
Veneto
$31
68
95
Damilano "Cannubi" Barolo
2011
Piedmont
$90
72
94
Ridolfi Brunello di Montalcino
2010
Tuscany
$50
78
94
San Rustico "Gaso" Amarone della Valpolicella Classico
2009
Veneto
$60
81
93
Villa Raiano "Ventidue" Fiano di Avellino
2013
Campania
$35
84
92
Tenuta delle Terre Nere  Etna Bianco
2013
Sicily
$20
89
94
Ferrando  "White Label" Carema
2010
Piedmont
$60
Average Price
$41

 

Source:  Wine Enthusiast Magazine, December 31, 2015

All in all, WS and WE magazines’ listings of their top wines for 2015 indicate another good year for Italian wines on the world stage.

Return to About Italian Wines

©Richard Marcis
December 4, 2015

 

 

Help keep this website ad-free and independent.
Consider making a contribution to support the work of WineWordsWisdom.com.
For your safety and security, all transactions are remotely processed using PayPal's secure servers.
No credit card or other sensitive information is held on this site. However, you do not need a
PayPal account to make a contribution as PayPal will also process regular credit card transations.

 

 

Copyright 2008-2016, Richard Marcis. All rights reserved. www.winewordswisdom.com