In previous postings, I formulated two proposed personal wine cellars consisting entirely of Italian wines, one costing $1,000 and the other $5,000. Despite these relatively modest dollar amounts, it is possible to stock a cellar with a goodly number of some really interesting, value-oriented Italian wines.
This includes not only everyday wines for informal family dinners and get-togethers but also special occasion wines you can serve with pride to discerning dinner guests, all without breaking the bank. Given the budgetary constraints, the wines were selected on the basis of both value and quality and demonstrated once again that when it comes to Italian wines you don’t have to be a big spender in order to drink well.
Now let’s up the ante considerably. Suppose you have virtually unlimited discretionary income and want to stock your wine cellar with only the best Italian wines. Here the emphasis is solely on quality and price is not a constraint – you want the best of the best Italian wines. Since there are no price constraints, this kind of over-the-top wine cellar is only for serious collectors with a lot of discretionary income - such as hedge-fund managers and bailed-out bank presidents. The rest of us mere mortals can just look on with awe and more than a little envy.
Since there are a lot of really good wines in Italy from which to choose, I arbitrarily limited the number of wines to 35 in total. Therefore, what I have selected are what I consider the thirty-five best Italian wines. The competition for a spot in the top 35 Italian wines is tough. These are the wines that have made the greatest impressions on me at tastings and that consistently, year after year, garner high praise from international wine critics and wine rating organizations as well as consumers.
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 are consistently of high quality over time. If the vintners do not believe that the climatic conditions are conducive to producing a quality wine, they would probably sell the grapes rather than produce a substandard product.
As might be expected, there is considerable disparity in the regional distribution of wines selected. While half of Italy’s 20 regions are represented in the listing of Italy’s top 35 wines, over half of the wines selected are from only two regions – Tuscany and Piedmont. Primarily because of the inclusion of many super-Tuscan wines, Tuscany itself accounts for 40 percent of the top 35 wines.
As indicated below, at current prices one of each of the top 35 Italian wines will total $6,281. However, any serious collector would want more than one bottle of each - probably at least 6 bottles and more likely a case or two of each. Six bottles of each would cost $37,686 and a case would cost – well, you can do the math.
So here they are, my picks for thirty-five of Italy’s greatest wines – the best of the best Italian wines. They are listed alphabetically by wine.
Return to About Italian Wines