Best Italian wines, but according to who? When writing about the most popular Italian wines
I started asking myself the same question.
In Italy there are several wine guides, some more established than others. The Tre Bicchieri Gambero Rosso was at one point the most regarded one, but in the last few years it has lost some of its prestige, with plenty more guides appearing every year, and countless wine competitions. As a rough estimate, every winery is the recipient of a medal or a mention for at least one of their wines, but does this mean that the best Italian wines list includes thousands of wines and that every winery produce a best Italian wine? No.
I don’t believe in objectivity when assessing a wine, we all have our preferences, and we tend to rate higher wines that fit our taste, even though we try our hardest to be impartial. If you were to ask ten different experts to rate a wine, it is likely it will get 10 different scores, this is often the reason wines are blind tasted by more than one expert at a time, still it doesn’t resolve the problem. It happened to us, we have witnessed it.
Many years ago, when we first started importing Italian wines, when we needed exposure and evidence that our wines, from small, unknown, independent, never heard of, producers were very good and we had nose, we entered a small bunch of wines to the main two UK wine competitions at the time: Decanter World Wine Award and the International Wine Challenge. All our wines scored very well between the two competitions, but one of the wines we entered, a Chianti, was awarded a gold medal and included amongst the 50 best wines of the year at the Decanter Awards, but did not even got a commended medal, the lowest score for which a medal is given, at the International Wine Challenge, at the time I wrote a post about wine competitions
and why we would not participate anymore.
Following that episode, we haven’t entered any more competition not only because of their cost but also because it is all down to the judges who taste the wines. Supermarkets, on the other side, that don’t have financial constraint as we and our producers have, regularly enter their wines, hundreds at a time, in several competitions, so that eventually a few wines will get one. Consumers are attracted by the sparkle of the medal, they don’t bother to read where it comes from.
The Chianti was great, amazing, a fantastic wine, certainly one of the best Chianti I tasted but it was no different to all other wines
we import, whether a Chianti or a Gavi, the philosophy and ethos in selecting them is the same, the nose is the same. We believe in wines that should keep surprising the drinker sip after sip, and we are very happy when we have comments like the one we recently received from Anth, “Hi Guys, just a little message, I bought some sublime brunello
from you 8 years ago or so, still in my cellar, tonight I found one you had recommended me years ago. So opened it and it’s beautiful! 8 years in my wine cooler”.
The wine the comment refers to, wasn’t on any guide but it was an amazing Supertuscan
that as soon as we tasted it we fell in love with. Our producers, family run wineries, don’t have a marketing department and spend their time working in the vineyards instead of paying to enter every wine competition or guide hoping that a judge will like their wines. So, to answer the initial question of what are the best Italian wines, there are hundreds if not thousands of “best Italian wines”, each guide or competition has its own list, there isn’t one guide more important than the others or competition, a list of best Italian wines can be somehow obtained by looking at the different guides and competitions and calculate an average between them but it is really worth the time? And even then, it is not unusual to find contradicting results.
If you feel like tasting some of the best Italian wines - we stock plenty of award winning wines - our suggestion is to buy them from your favourite, specialist wine merchant and if you choose us, we guarantee you will not be disappointed, exactly like Anth and every one else that has trusted us for the last 17 years.