Italy offers some of the most distinguished wines in the world. Among them, Piedmont and Tuscany are the regions of note.
From the northern region of Piedmont, the Barolo and Barbaresco wines are the preeminent choice as the best are some of the most sought-after wines in the world. Both are derived from the Nebbiolo varietal which takes its name from the word nebbia, meaning mist or fog, as it is characteristically harvested in late October when fog settles in much of the growing area. Nebbiolo, like Pinot Noir, requires carefully chosen soil and climate, and when accommodated, will produce wines that are incredibly full-bodied while offering a harmonious balance and bouquet, fully expressing the qualities of this unique terroir.
Barolo is considered the “wine of kings” and was favored by the monarchs of the House of Savoy. These wines require patience. Barolo is often kept in casks for 3 years and should be aerated an hour ahead of time to allow for a slight oxidation. Patience is rewarded, as these wines are robust and wonderful now, yet their complex aromas and flavors will become more nuanced with age.
Our recommendations center around those from esteemed houses of Roagna and Bruno Giacosa as well as the hilltop vineyard of Vietti, all of which offer outstanding examples of wines crafted by masters of viticulture who specialize in the Nebbiolo varietal.
The 2010 Barolo from Vietti benefits from an exceptional location and climate, and is a dazzling, bold wine offering a true expression of the region’s exalted status among Italian wines, characteristically robust with a polished finish.
From Giacosa Fratelli vineyards located in the Langhe hills, we see a range of extraordinary Barolo and Barbaresco. The 2007 Giacosa Barbaresco is an opulent wine with rich signature tar aromas and elegant fruit and a strong finish. This is a statement wine that will leave a lasting impression.
Roagna offers single vineyard wines with a commitment to biodiversity that excludes the use of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Their exceptional Barbaresco is another standout worth trying. While it is aged in large oak casks, the emphasis is on expressing the unique qualities of the terroir, not the oak.
Fine producers abound in Tuscany where the gentle rolling hills provide a scenic backdrop to the ancient art of viticulture. Here the Sangiovese grape thrives, and is known as “the blood of Jupiter.” Tuscany’s fame for both traditional Sangiovese wine, as well as the top performing wines of the IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica) is well-deserved. The beauty and balance of tradition and innovation reign. The natural qualities of the land predominate and the production of high-quality wines here tends to rely less on oak and more on climate and terroir, the former which benefits from marked differences in temperature between day and night.
Producers of Note:
Frescobaldi embodies the land in Tuscany, the family’s history with 6 different estates goes back 29 generations, with each site in a prime location, representing the unique notes and diversity of their respective terroirs. These historical estates, some dating back 1000 years, achieved fame as fine winemakers as early as the 15th century, and have shown a commitment to tending the earth in sustainable ways. Marked by their extraordinary longevity, these wines are known by their rich aromas, floral notes of violet and exceptional bright fruit.
Biondi-Santi is an historic producer of the region’s classic wines located near Siena, and has pioneered the art of Sangiovese for more than 100 years. E. Asimov writing in the New York Times recently called Biondi-Santi “perhaps the greatest of all Brunello producers.” The traditional style of production and the bold results that it achieves are appreciated as well as the wines’ longevity and opulence.
One of the top producers of Brunello di Montalcino, Valdicava’s wines are often hard to find with the production of their single-vineyard Brunello riserva from the Madonna del Piano vineyard limited to just 800 cases. The entire Valdicava estate produces just 6,000 cases a year which makes it most sought after.
Tenuta Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona is located in the southwest of Montalcino and its history dates back to the 17th century. Now encompassing three estates, Ciacci is committed to sustainable growing practices and consistently produces top quality wines that are often the choice of the most discerning buyers.
One of the three original producers of Brunello, along with Frescobaldi and Biondi-Santi, Tenutal Il Poggione sits higher and closer to the sea than many other estates in the region. The results have been phenomenal, giving Il Poggione wines a savory and fresh component to their full-bodied structure.
The IGT wines, once considered the renegades of the region, have reinvigorated interest in Tuscan wines, as they stand beside the more classic all-Sangiovese wines, offering bold new alternative blends.
The legend of Gianfranco Soldera precedes him. His attention to detail and precise vinicultural techniques has made his widely-acclaimed Brunello the stuff of legend. His vineyard, Case Basse, is notable for limited production, rich, single-vineyard wines that are aged up to 5 years in Slovanian oak casks.
Set in the foothills outside of Bolgheri, Ornellaia terroir benefits from the cool breezes of the Mediterranean sea, and as well as the unique make-up of the soil which has volcanic properties as well as the Mediterranean coastal influence. Here the artisanal vintners craft melodic wines of note, with a blending process that is complex, using more than 60 base wines across their range.
A bold innovator in the region, the Marchese Mario Incisa della Rocchetta enchanted by the wines of Bourdeax sought to expand the regional tradition of winemaking which relied solely on Sangiovese. He planted Cabernet Sauvignon back in the 1940s. While recognition came slowly for his unique blends, the Tenuto San Guido is now some of the most sought after of the I.G.T
The Antinori family has a long history of winemaking, but their experimentation with the Solaia vineyard—which is planted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Sangiovese—dates back 50 years when they pioneered the first of the Super Tuscans. Vintages are limited to only the years that pass their high bar of quality, which means they were not produced in a handful of years when quality did not permit. As a result, their elegant and austere wine consistently achieves exceptional ratings.