The Perfect $5,000 Italian Wine Cellar

In a previous posting I formulated a proposed personal wine cellar that consists entirely of Italian wines and costs approximately $1,000 at current retail prices. Now, I’m going to up the ante and look at what one can buy in the way of Italian wines for $5,000.

But it’s not just a matter of going out and buying wine until you’ve reached the $5,000 limit. Assuming you have the funds, that’s easy to do. But if you want to stock your cellar with really interesting wines that you can drink everyday with dinner as well as special occasion wines that you can serve with pride to dinner guests, all without breaking the bank, then you need to give some careful thought to the process of stocking your wine cellar.

The wines were selected on the basis of both quality and value. They are wines that exhibit exceptional value at all price points and qualify as wines with high quality-to-price ratios. For example, the personal wine cellar list includes some little-known and relatively inexpensive gems such as Capezzana’s “Villa di Capezzana”, Coppo’s “L’Avvocata” Barbera d’Asti and Franco Toros’ Collio Pinot Bianco, among others, all of which retail for less than $28 a bottle. With Italian wines, you don’t have to be a big spender in order to drink well.Italian wine cellar

While many of the wines selected are age-worthy in that they will improve still further with bottle aging, this is not a cellar for the persevering collector who wants to lay away wines for the long-term. Rather, these are wines to accompany dinner over the course of the year and special-occasion wines for sharing with friends.

The $5,000 Italian wine cellar list is varied in terms of style and region.  Grapes are grown over the length and width of Italy with numerous native grape varieties and the country has an extremely diverse wine culture. A well-appointed Italian wine cellar will reflect that diversity.

Reflecting this diversity, the proposed wine cellar includes some crisp, European-style white wines from Italy’s cool-climate northern Alto Adige and Friuli regions as well as some more textured whites from central and southern Italy. It also includes some extraordinary but not well-known reds from Campania, Puglia and Sicily as well as some celebrated reds with bold-face names from the Piedmont, Tuscany and Veneto regions.

In this regard, the regional distribution of wines in the proposed personal wine cellar list reflects the regional distribution of wines in Gambero Rosso’s annual Guide to Italian Wines (see, for example, Gambero Rosso's Tre Bicchieri awards for 2010). Approximately two-thirds of the wines on the wine cellar list come from four regions – the Piedmont, Tuscany, Friuli and the Veneto. The rest are widely scattered throughout Italy’s diverse wine scene, from the alpine Alto Adige region in the northeastern corner of Italy to Puglia and Sicily in the Mediterranean south.

Approximately 68 percent of the wines are red, 21 percent are white and the remaining 11 percent fall in the “other” category – i.e., sparkling, sweet, etc.

Overall, there are 152 separate wines in the proposed personal wine cellar. Since you may want a second bottle of a wine that you tried and really enjoyed and/or you may need more than one bottle of a special wine to serve to guests, the wine cellar list includes multiple bottles of some wines.

For example, Italian sparkling wines are perfect for informal, casual gatherings, especially during the summer, so the proposed wine cellar includes several bottles of Prosecco. It also includes several bottles of Bellavista’s elegant Franciacorta Cuvee Brut for the holidays or other occasions where an elegant bubbly would be in order.

The wines selected for the $5,000 Italian wine cellar are presented in the following table where they are sorted alphabetically by region.

This selection of wines with it’s regional diversity, high quality-to-price ratios, wide appeal and overall spirit it denotes comes closest to my notion of the perfect $5,000 Italian wine cellar.


      The $5,000 Italian Wine Cellar - by Region
Producer Wine Year Price # Bottles Total Cost Region Type
Fattoria Valentina Montepulciano d'Abruzzo "Spelt" 2004 $25 2 $50 Abruzzo Red
Masciarelli Montepulciano d'Abruzzo "Marina Cvetic" 2004 $35 2 $70 Abruzzo Red
Valle Reale Montepulciano d'Abruzzo "Vigne Nuove" 2007 $12 3 $36 Abruzzo Red
Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco 2007 $15 3 $45 Alto Adige White
Caldaro Muller-Thurgau 2008 $15 2 $30 Alto Adige White
Cantina Terlano Alto Adige Terlano Pinot Bianco Vorberg Riserva 2005 $24 3 $72 Alto Adige White
Kupelwieser Riesling 2007 $17 2 $34 Alto Adige White
Bisceglia Aglianico del Vulture 2003 $16 3 $48 Basilicata Red
Feudi di San Gregorio Serpico 2000 $60 2 $120 Campania Red
Imparato Montevetrano 2000 $110 1 $110 Campania Red
Mastroberardino Fiano di Avellino 2007 $22 1 $22 Campania White
Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo "Nova Serra" 2007 $22 3 $66 Campania White
Mastroberardino Taurasi "Radici" 2004 $60 1 $60 Campania Red
Franco Toros Collio Pinot Bianco 2006 $16 3 $48 Friuli White
Jermann Pinot Nero "Red Angel in the Moonlight" 2005 $25 1 $25 Friuli Red
Livio Felluga Tocai Friulano 2008 $30 3 $90 Friuli White
Marco Felluga Collio "Molamatta" 2007 $22 2 $44 Friuli White
Bellavista Franciacorta Cuvee Brut  NV $40 4 $160 Lombardy Sparkling
Ronca del Picchio Sforzato di Valtellina 2002 $54 2 $108 Lombardy Red
Braida Brachetto d'Acqui 2007 $22 1 $22 Piedmont Sparkling/Sweet
Clerico Langhe Rosso "Arte" 2005 $40 1 $40 Piedmont Red
Coppo Barbera d'Asti "L'Avvocata" 2004 $20 2 $40 Piedmont Red
Einaudi Dolcetto "Vigna Tecc" 2007 $25 2 $50 Piedmont Red
Einaudi Barolo "Cannubi" 2004 $90 2 $180 Piedmont Red
La Giustiniana Gavi 2007 $17 1 $17 Piedmont White
Luciano Sandrone Barbera d'Alba 2006 $36 2 $72 Piedmont Red
Marcarini Moscato d'Asti 2007 $19 6 $114 Piedmont Sparkling/Sweet
Marcarini Barolo Brunate 2001 $54 2 $108 Piedmont Red
Moccagatta Barbaresco "Bric Balin" 1998 $45 2 $90 Piedmont Red
Paolo Marolo Grappa "Chamomile" NV $35 1 $35 Piedmont Grappa
Pasquero-Elia (Paitin) Barbaresco "Vecchie Vigne Paitin" 2000 $70 2 $140 Piedmont Red
Pecchenino Dolcetto di Dogliani "Siri d'Jermu" 2005 $26 2 $52 Piedmont Red
Travaglini Gattinara 2003 $27 2 $54 Piedmont Red
Duca Carlo Guarini Primitivo Salento "Vigne Vecchie" 2004 $19 4 $76 Puglia Red
Feudi di San Gregorio (Ognissole) Primitivo di Manduria  2007 $16 2 $32 Puglia Red
Taurino Notarpanaro 1999 $20 4 $80 Puglia Red
Taurino Patriglione 1999 $55 1 $55 Puglia Red
Argiolas  Vermentino "Costamolino" 2008 $12 3 $36 Sardinia White
Santadi Carignano del Sulcis Superiore "Terre Brune" 2001 $58 2 $116 Sardinia Red
Morgante Nero d'Avola 2006 $18 4 $72 Sicily Red
Tasca d'Almerita (Regaleali) Conte di Sclafani "Rosso del Conte" 2004 $40 2 $80 Sicily Red
Altesino Brunello di Montalcino "Montosoli" 1999 $96 2 $192 Tuscany Red
Argiano Solengo 2004 $84 1 $84 Tuscany Red
Avignonesi Vino Nobile di  Montepulciano 2005 $25 2 $50 Tuscany Red
Capezzana Barco Reale di Carmignano 2004 $18 3 $54 Tuscany Red
Castello di Monastero Vin Santo  2000 $40 2 $80 Tuscany Sweet
Castello di Romitorio Romito di Romitorio 2004 $48 1 $48 Tuscany Red
Colle Massari Grattamacco  Rosso Super-Tuscan 1999 $82 2 $164 Tuscany Red
Fattoria Felsina Fontalloro 2004 $40 2 $80 Tuscany Red
Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva "Rancia"  2004 $44 3 $132 Tuscany Red
Policiano Vino Nobile di Montepulciano "Asinone" 2004 $55 2 $110 Tuscany Red
Poliziano Rosso di Montalcino 2006 $15 4 $60 Tuscany Red
Ruffino Chianti Classico Riserva Ducale Oro (Gold Label) 2004 $54 3 $162 Tuscany Red
Terrabianca Campaccio 2005 $28 2 $56 Tuscany Red
Arnaldo Caprai Sangrantino di Montefalco 2003 $105 2 $210 Umbria Red
Allegrini Palazzo della Torre IGT Veronese 2004 $20 4 $80 Veneto Red
Bisol  Prosecco Valdobiadene "Crede" NV $24 3 $72 Veneto Sparkling
Ca Rugate Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2004 $65 2 $130 Veneto Red
Inama Soave Classico 2006 $18 2 $36 Veneto White
Masi Campofiorin Rosso del Veronese 2004 $18 2 $36 Veneto Red
Nicolis Testal 2004 $18 2 $36 Veneto Red
Nicolis Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2001 $54 2 $108 Veneto Red
Nino Franco Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut NV $14 3 $42 Veneto Sparkling
Pieropan Soave Classico "Calvarino" 2006 $30 2 $60 Veneto White
Zenato Lugana Trebbiano di Lugana 2007 $16 4 $64 Veneto White
Zenato Valpolicella Superiore Ripassa 2005 $28 2 $56 Veneto Red
TOTAL $5,001


Richard Marcis

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