Over 46,000 wines were tasted by several commissions, in the regions and then in Rome for the finals. The highest number of Tre Bicchieri ever assigned and many Due Bicchieri Rossi, which by a hair didn't make the podium. The story of a great collective work, unique in its kind.

Vini d’Italia  2021: a unique guide

2021, the Guide to Records. In a year characterised by difficult (if not dramatic) tensions that shook – and continue to shake – the world, and consequently also the world of wine, the Italian wine sector and the team of passionate tasters who are the fulcrum of Vini d’Italia – the Wine Guide we have been publishing since 1988 – responded in an exemplary manner. It is the best way to witness the extraordinary vitality of Italian wine which confirms itself as a world leader in exports even in this difficult year 2020. First of all we tasted many more wines than in previous editions: more or less we have grown by 2,000. This means that our Guide is experienced by the world of production as an indispensable support tool.

Vini d’Italia tasting

Tasting over 46,000 wines was an incredible undertaking, if we consider the complexity of the Italian panorama, from the island of Pantelleria facing Africa to the valleys of the Canton Ticino (which, despite being in Switzerland, is included in the Guide) plus the conditions in which we had to operate. So here’s another record: number of pages, which after the indispensable increase in foliation now reaches 1,056. All this has brought the total number of wineries reviewed to the stellar figure of 2,645, over 100 more than last year. An unthinkable result 34 years ago when the first issue was rolled out with 465 wineries and about 1,400 wines tasted. In this edition readers will find 24,638 wines evaluated. We never would have believed this during the months of lockdown, when we wondered about the actual possibility of producing the 2021 issue. So in short, it’s for a good reason if around the world Vini d’Italia is defined as “The Italian Wine Bible.” Our Guide is translated every year into English, German, Chinese and Japanese, and is an indispensable tool for enthusiasts and professional operators from all over the world. The merit of this success? Undoubtedly goes to a team of passionate and expert tasters who dedicate weeks every year to the tasting (strictly blind) of thousands of samples in every part of Italy. Over sixty people that we have selected over the years for their competence and reliability, which have been extensively tested in the field.

Tre Bicchieri awards

After our tastings, condensed this year in just over two months, we were still able to draw a picture of consistent and objective Italian oenology. The final tastings – in which 2,300 wines were involved – gave us the spectacular result of 467 wines awarded with the legendary Tre Bicchieri recognition. Over 1,800 wines that ranked very close to the winners (winning Due Bicchieri Rossi), and in the case of many wineries (we only award one wine per cellar), they are worth as much as the ones on the podium. In a year like this troubled 2020, this is truly a record, which has even more important value. It’s true that on our way we have found beautiful and even more beautiful vintages, such as 2015 in Montalcino, for example, or 2016 in Barolo. But it’s equally true that the Italian wine world is thriving in quantity and quality, and this 1% of great wines that we award out of the total of those evaluated is the crown jewels, the spearhead, of an oenology that does not fear comparison on a global scale.

But perhaps the best way to fully understand our philosophy, our vision of the wine world, where readers will see small artisan productions vinified in amphorae awarded side by side prestigious best-sellers on the international market, is to examine the Special Awards, which this year have the new addition of the Cooperative Winery of the Year award, thus becoming twelve in total.

words by Nino Aiello, Giuseppe Carrus, Gianni Fabrizio, Nicola Frasson, Massimo Lanza, William Pregentelli, Lorenzo Ruggeri, Marco Sabellico and Paolo Zaccaria – illustrations by Gaia Niola