Best is a subjective term in wine. With so many fantastic Italian wines, it's difficult to select the top wines but easy to make recommendations for great bottles. Italy's wine industry cultivates a wide variety of red and white grapes that make tasty wines. The recommendations that follow are some of the best wines Italy has to offer.
1. Best Amarone Della Valpolicella - Romano Dal Forno
Romano Dal Forno Amarone della Valpolicella comes with a hefty price tag; new releases of this wine usually come in around the $300+ mark, and the wine is highly sought after. But in terms of an Amarone della Valpolicella, you can't do much better than this. The Amarone from Romano Dal Forno frequently tops Wine Spectator's rating scales with monster ratings of 94 or above, making this a highly collectible wine. Top vintages include 2004 (drink or hold), 2011 (hold), and 2010 (drink or hold).
More Affordable Option - Roccolo Grassi Amarone Della Valpolicella
This Amarone from Roccolo Grassi costs between $50 and $80 per bottle as a new release, and it's usually rated above 90 points by major critics. Wine Enthusiast awarded the 2007 vintage 94 points, an excellent rating for such an affordable bottle of Amarone. Top recent vintages include 2006, 2007, and 2013.
2. Best Barbera d'Alba - Roberto Voerzio Riserva Pozzo dell'Annunziata
This is wine-searcher's top Barbera d'Alba based on aggregate ratings across all vintages and critics. In simpler terms, what that means is this wine is consistently well-received and highly rated. It's a bit on the pricey side; in the US, you can mostly find the wine in large format bottles (1.5L or a magnum), which cost $250+.
More Affordable Option - Borgogno Barbera d'Alba
At under $30 per bottle, the Barbera d'Alba from Giacomo Borgogno & Figli is a perfect, affordable Barbera. The wine typically scores in the 90 point range, a fantastic score for an inexpensive and drinkable Barbera.
3. Best Barolo/Barbaresco - Bruno Giacosa Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto Riserva
There are many fabulous makers of Barolo and Barbaresco, each with their own take on Piedmont's epic Nebbiolo grape, so it's hard to choose the best. Currently, one of Wine Spectator's top rated Barolos ever is the 2000 Bruno Giacosa Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto Riserva. The 2000 vintage received a perfect score (100 points - drinking well as of 2019), and recent vintages also receive high marks. Other top vintages include 2001, 2007, and 2008, and James Suckling in 2019 notes the upcoming 2015 vintage for the Barolo region may be the best one the region has seen in years. The release price is mid-range for a Barolo; you'll pay around $150 or more but in return, you can expect a really good bottle of Barolo that will age for years.
More Affordable Option - Castello di Neive Barbaresco
Barbaresco wines are made from the same grape, but they tend to be more affordable than Barolos and are often just as good. The Castello di Neive Barbaresco is a great example of this. The aggregate score for vintages of the Castello di Neive Barbaresco average around 90 points, and release price is about $40. The 2015 vintage earned a respectable 93 point rating from Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast, and you can buy it for about $30.
4. Best Brunello - Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona Pianrosso
Brunello di Montalcino is a beautiful expression of Italy's Sangiovese grape, also found in Piedmont's bold and acidic Chianti wines. The Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona Pianrosso Brunello di Montalcino is one of those rare wines that is both uniformly excellent across vintages and highly affordable; the wine receives an aggregate rating of 94 points for all vintages, and Wine Enthusiast awarded the 2013 vintage with a huge 98-point rating. You'll find many sellers offering the highly rated 2013 Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona Pinarosso for around $65.
5. Best Chianti - San Felice Il Grigio Gran Selezione
You'll find another example of how the Sangiovese grape goes from vine to glass in Piedmont's Chianti and Chianti Classico wines. The San Felice Il Grigio Gran Selezion is a consistently highly rated Chianti Classico, and the 2015 vintage received 95 points from Wine Enthusiast. Other vintages receive similar ratings (aggregate across vintages and critics is 92 points), and release prices hover around $40 per bottle.
6. Best Cortese - Pio Cesare Cortese di Gavi
An acidic, citrus-scented white from Italy's Gavi region, Cortese doesn't produce super highly rated wines, but they're still worth a try if you want to truly get a taste of the wines that come from Italy. Beloved Barolo winemaker Pio Cesare makes one of the best examples; you'll seldom find a Cortese receiving ratings over 90 points, but Pio Cesare's comes close with aggregate ratings of 89 points. A bottle of Pio Cesare Cortese di Gavi will cost around $20.
7. Best Dolcetto - Podere Ruggeri Corsini Dolcetto d'Alba
Dolcetto is another wine that seldom receives sky-high ratings; it maxes out at around 90 points. And while the name means "little sweet one," most Dolcettos are dry. With an aggregate score across critics and vintages of 90 points, the Podere Ruggeri Corsini Dolcetto d'Alba is a great example of a Dolcetto d'Alba, and it's affordable at about $20 per bottle.
8. Best Lambrusco - Cantina Della Volta Lambrusci di Modena Spumante Rosso
If you're looking for a fizzy and slightly sweet red, then Lambrusco is the Italian wine for you. Vine Pair's top Lambrusco for 2019 is the Cantina Della Volta Lambrusci di Modena Spumante Rosso, a sparkling deeply colored rosado (rosé) that costs around $30 per bottle.
9. Best Montelpulciano - Masciarelli Villa Gemma Montelpulciano d'Abruzzo
The Masiciarellia Villa Gemma Montelpulciano d'Abruzzo consistently receives top scores from wine experts. For example, the 2011 vintage received a 95 point rating from James Suckling, and the new releases cost around $100 per bottle.
10. Best Moscato d'Asti - La Spinetta Moscato d'Asti
Moscato d'Asti is a light, off dry, and fizzy white without a lot of complexity. While it is a pleasant drinkable wine (particularly in the summer or for new wine drinkers with a sweeter palate), it's never going to pull in the big ratings. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't try it; it's really a delightful glass of wine. La Spinetta is a big name in the Piedmont region, making delicious, highly rated wines, and their Moscato d'Asti doesn't disappoint. Plus, it's only $20 per bottle, a great value for a quality wine.
11. Best Pinot Grigio - Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio Alto Adige
The Santa Margherita Pinto Grigio Alto Adige is the most popular brand of Italian Pinot Grigio sold in the United States. At a cost of around $25 per bottle, it's light and consistently good from vintage to vintage.
12. Best Primitivo - Gianfranco Fino Es Primitivo di Manduria
Primitivo is Italian Zinfandel, and the wines it produces are just as zippy and alcoholic as the California version. You'll find bottles of the Gianfranco Fino Es Primitivo di Manduria from Puglia in the $60 to $90 range, and the aggregate rating of 91 points shows this winemaker's consistency from year to year.
13. Best Prosecco - Ruggeri Giustino B. Extra Dry Superiore Vintage Prosecco
Prosecco isn't quite like Champagne; you'll seldom find a knock-your-socks-off bottle of this light, sparkling quaff, but it's good fun and an affordable celebratory beverage for a crowd or as a mixer in mimosas. This vintage Prosecco from Ruggeri Giustino stands above the rest with an aggregate score of 89. Some years, such as the 2007 vintage, receive high praise from the likes of Wine Enthusiast. It'll cost about $30 per bottle.
14. Best Soave - Gini Soave Classico
The Gini Soave Classico from Veneto costs just over $20 per bottle, but it is usually well rated for an affordable Soave. The 2016 vintage received a 90-point rating from Wine Spectator, so this is a great, affordable Soave to try.
15. Best Trebbiano - Emidio Pepe Trebbiano d'Abruzzo
Emidio Pepe makes good wines, and the Trebbiano d'Abruzzo is no exception. The high acidity Emidio Pepe Trebbiano d'Abruzzo frequently makes both Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast lists of good Trebbiano wines, with the 2014 vintage garnering 93 and 92 points respectively, and the 2016 vintage receiving 92 points from Vinous.
16. Best Super Tuscan - Antinori Tignanello
Antinori Tignanello is considered one of the first, if not the first, Super Tuscan, and it's an excellent example of how blending Sangiovese with other red wine grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon creates a beautiful, intense, balanced wine. Top vintages include 2016 and 2017, although virtually any vintage is bound to be highly rated and an excellent bottle of wine. It's a little on the pricey side at about $120 per bottle, but it's well worth the cost for a wine from one of the Super Tuscan pioneers.
17. Best Verdicchio - Bucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore
Decanter lists the Bucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore as one of its top Verdicchios from Marche, giving the 2015 vintage a 94 point rating. At under $25 per bottle, that's a bargain. Give this zippy white a try.
Top Italian Wine Vintages
According to Wine Spectator, these are the top rated recent vintages in Italy (as of July of 2019). Buying regional wines during top vintages is a good bet; chances are, you'll get a decent bottle of Italian wine.
|98||Brunello di Montalcino||2010|
Tuscany - Bolgheri/Maremma
Tuscany - Chianti
|96||Tuscany - Bolgheri/Maremma||2006, 2001|
|Tuscany - Brunello di Montalcino||2012|
|95||Piedmont||2007, 2006, 2001|
|Tuscany - Bolgheri/Maremma||2011, 2007|
|Tuscany - Brunello di Montalcino||2006|
|94||Piedmont||2012, 2008, 2004|
Tuscany - Bolgheri/Maremma
Tuscany - Brunello di Montalcino
|Tuscany - Chianti||2007|
|Tuscany - Bolgheri/Maremma||2008|
|Tuscany - Brunello di Montalcino||2007|
The Best Wines Italy Has to Offer
Italy produces great Old World wines, and the above recommendations are among some of the best the country's winemakers have to offer. Regardless of your budget or preferences in wines, you're sure to find an Italian wine to suit your tastes.