Friday, January 31, 2014

Italy’s Top Wines and Winemakers - Gambero Rosso’s Vini d’Italia 2014

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Marco Pallanti, Owner/Winemaker at Castello di Ama, Chianti Classico in Italy

See also:
Extraordinary Art and Wines at Castello di Ama in Chianti Classico, Italy

The best Italian wine guide is Gambero Rosso’s Vini d’Italia. Italy’s top winemakers and the top wines are awarded glasses, from 1 glass to 3 glasses - Tre Bicchieri.

This is the 27th edition of Vini d’Italia, which was first published in late 1987 in newsletter format with reviews of a limited number of wines. It has grown in size and coverage each year since then. The latest edition is over 1,000 pages.

The Gambero Rosso Vini d’Italia 2014 was issued in November 2013. The German and English versions are scheduled to be released in February 2014.

See here for previous years:
Italy’s Top Wines and Wine Makers – The 2013 Gambero Rosso Vini d’Italia
Italy’s Top Wines and Wine Makers – The 2012 Gambero Rosso Vini d’Italia
Italy's Top Wines - 2011 Gambero Rosso's Vini d'Italia Wine Guide

Italian Wine

Italy is home of some of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. Etruscans and Greek settlers produced wine in the country long before the Romans started developing their own vineyards. Two thousand years later, Italy is world leader in wine, accounting for about 20% of world wine production. Italians also lead the world in wine consumption by volume, 59 liters per capita, compared with 8 liters per capita in the US. Wine is grown in almost every region of the country.

Wine Regions

There is wine everywhere in Italy, from the Alps in the North to Sicilia in the South, clustered into 20 wine regions, which correspond to the 20 administrative regions. The about 30 DOCG wines are located in 13 different administrative regions but most of them are concentrated in Piedmont and Tuscany.

The Piedmont area of northwestern Italy is further divided into the two popular regions of Barbaresco and Barolo. The predominant grape there is the Nebbiolo. Northeastern Italy has the Veneto area. Soave and Valpolicella are two important regions that produce many local varieties. The large area in central Italy is Tuscany and is known for Chianti and Chianti Classico. The Sangiovese is the predominant red grape in Tuscany. In Italy’s South are Puglia and the island of Sicily. The Negroamaro grape is widely grown in this area.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Giovanni Folonari from Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari Tenute

See also:
Kobrand’s Impressive Tour d'Italia 2011 in Washington DC, USA

Italy’s Grapes

There are several hundreds of indigenous grapes in Italy. The following is a list of the most common and important ones.


Sangiovese - Italy's claim to fame, the pride of Tuscany. It produces Chianti, Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile de Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino.

Nebbiolo - The most noble of Italy's varietals. Nebbiolo is difficult to master, but produces the renowned Barolo and Barbaresco.

Montepulciano - The grape of this name is not to be confused with the Tuscan town of Montepulciano; it is most widely planted on the opposite coast in Abruzzo. Its wines develop silky plum-like fruit, friendly acidity, and light tannin.

Barbera - The most widely grown red wine grape of Piedmont and Southern Lombardy, most famously around the towns of Asti and Alba, and Pavia. Barbera wines were once considered as the lighter versions of Barolos. But this has changed. They are now sometimes aged in French barrique, intended for the international market.

Corvina - Along with the varietals Rondinella and Molinara, this is the principal grape which makes the famous wines of the Veneto: Valpolicella and Amarone.

Nero d'Avola - Nearly unheard of in the international market until recent years, this native varietal of Sicily is gaining attention for its plummy fruit and sweet tannins. The quality of Nero d'Avola has surged in recent years.

Dolcetto - A grape that grows alongside Barbera and Nebbiolo in Piedmont; a wine for everyday drinking.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Emanuela Strucchi Prinetti (Owner) at Badia a Coltibuono in Italy

See also:
Wining and Dining at Badia a Coltibuono in Tuscany with Wine Makers and Owners Roberto and Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti, Italy


Trebbiano - Behind Cataratto (which is made for industrial jug wine), this is the most widely planted white varietal in Italy. It is grown throughout the country, with a special focus on the wines from Abruzzo and from Lazio, including Frascati. Mostly easy drinking wines.

Moscato - Grown mainly in Piedmont, it is mainly used in the slightly-sparkling (frizzante), semi-sweet Moscato d'Asti.

Pinot Grigio - A hugely successful commercial grape, known as Pinot Gris in France and Grauburgunder in Germany. Produces crisp and clean wines. Typically mass-produced wine in Italy.

Arneis - A crisp and floral varietal from Piedmont, which has been grown there since the 15th century.

Garganega - The main grape varietal for wines labeled Soave, this is a crisp, dry white wine from the Veneto wine region.

The 2014 Gambero Rosso Tre Bichieri Wines

In the 2014 Guide, 415 wines got the top award of Tre Bichieri. This compares with 399 in the 2013 Guide and 375 wines in the 2012 Guide.

Four regions (Piedmont, Tuscany, Veneto and Alto Adige) got 212 awards between them, accounting for more than half of the total. Wines from the Piedmont received the largest number of awards (77), with Barolo and Barbaresco wines dominating the list. As usual, the producers listed read like a who’s-who of Italian wines – Gaja, Vietti, Giacosa, Conterno, and Grasso, to name a few.

Tuscany received 72 Tre Bicchieri awards, the second-largest number of awards. Chianti Classico wines garnered 17 awards, 4 more than in the previous year. 15 Brunello di Montalcino wines received awards. The list of Tre Bicchieri wines from Tuscany includes numerous Super-Tuscan wines from pedigreed wineries such as Tenuta San Guido, La Macchiole, Montevertine and Rocca di Frassinello, to name just a few. 4 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wines received awards, an increase of 2 from the previous year.

The 2014 Gambero Rosso Vini d’Italia Awards

Best red wine of the year is the Amarone della Valpolicella Cl. Calcarole 2009 – Guerrieri Rizzardi in Bardolino at Lake Garda

Best white wine is the A. A. Pinot Bianco Sirmian 2012 – Cantina Nals Nals Margreid in Nals in South Tyrolia

Best sparkling wine is the Alta Langa Brut Zero Cantina Maestra 2007 – Enrico Serafino in Canale in the Piedmont

Best sweet wine is the Orvieto Cl. Sup. Muffa Nobile Calcaia 2010 – Barberani in Orvieto in Umbria

Best winery of the year is Colle Massari in Cinigiano in Tuscany

The title “best value for money” went to Bianco Maggiore 2012 – Rallo in Marsala in Sicily

The title “winemaker of the year” went to Sandro Princic, Azienda Agricola Princic in Cormons in Friuli

The award “up and coming winemaker” of the year went to Pala from Sardinia

Salcheto from Muntepolciano in the Tuscany region received the award for sustainable wine production

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1 comment:

  1. Great article, thanks for sharing information about wines, appreciate that:)