A collection of unmissable vintages for Italian wine

If you know the real spirit of the vintage, you have a great advantage when you order a bottle of wine at the table. When we extend the Villa Sandi Contempoary Wine List Award we take into account the surgical choice of the best vintages in the single wine territories. This week, therefore, we study together some memorable vintages in Italy to remember. If in the past, the great harvests were considered the hottest ones which generated great quantities of grapes, and better profits for the producers, today we tend to appreciate cooler vintages, with a slow and extended vegetative process, capable of ensuring maturity and at the same time a sharply natural acidity.

Bubbles and Whites at the test of time

We start from the world of Italian bubbles, in the first place Franciacorta and Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico. For the riserva and cuvées with prolonged aging on the lees, we recommend this trio of vintages: the vibrant 2008, the sunny 2011 and the energetic 2013. Three vintages that, with due differences, showed great results also in the Trentodoc area, where we also remember a memorable 2001. Let’s move on to the Italian whites, increasingly sharp and incisive and at the same time able to age gracefully, sometimes even better than our reds. Let’s talke look at the appellations. As for Alto Adige, we noted three above-average vintages in terms of quality: 2010, 2016 and 2019; in Friuli we drop five numbers to remember: 2006, 2007, 2015, 2016 and 2018. Talking about Veneto, let’s remember an excellent 2009 for Soave Classico and Lugana, two other wines that can face the dangers of time with great ease. Then we come to Fiano di Avellino and Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, two Docgs wines that are definitely for the long run. We noticed four vintages decidedly over the top: 2008, 2010, 2013 and 2016. Strong buy.

Some doubts about the glorious 2010

And here we are to the great Italian aging red wines. As far as Barolo and Barbaresco are concerned, going back in time we still find in great shape the vintages 1996, 1999 and 2001. Among the most recent ones, certainly 2010, 2013 and 2016, keeping however some reservations about the celebrated 2010 which is not always keeping up with the high expectations, often surpassed in the evolution by the 2011, warmer and more mature, but that is giving wines of great completeness. For those who are looking for a peculiar creamy and silky tannic texture, we suggest the 2015 vintage, which in Piedmont as well as in Tuscany, gives a consistency of absolute value. In the Tuscan territory the music does not change much, even here the 2001, 2010, 2013 and 2016 have made noise, giving wines with a long evolution in bottle. Moving to Bolgheri, two vintages have made history: 1998 and 2009, two vintages which have fully valued the characteristics of intensity and fullness of the reds of this district.

The rainy 2014 and that very hot 2003

Some of the less happy vintages for reds certainly include 2002, which was cool and wet to say the least, the very hot 2003 (one of the hottest and sultriest summers in the last 100 years), and the complicated 2014, with a frequency of rainfall not seen in decades. Of the more recent ones, 2017 seems to be a thread behind in aging potential, but with many fine exceptions. Back to the territories. are you sure that Amarone is not affected by vintages? Not at all, try uncorking vintages such as 1995, 2001, 2007 or 2015 and you will immediately realize this by yourself. The partial drying of the grapes in fact enhances the value of the vintage in the glass. In Abruzzo, we have great memory of three older vintages: 1995, 2001 and 2007, with 2015 among the most recent. In the world of Aglianico, and in particular in the area of Taurasi, we have followed with pleasure the excellent evolution of 1999, as well as 2008, being surprised by the potential of 2015. We close with Etna, which as usual has its own history, being a North in the South. For example, only here the 2014 vintage gave great results. On the volcano keep in mind vintages such as 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2016. Looking forward we have very good sensations from the 2019, we’ll wait for it to stand the test of time.

You can find out more about the Villa Sandi Contemporary Wine List Award here

Read previous installments of the series

How To build a contemporary wine list

Everything you need to know about the Italian Method

Bubbles as a lifestyle

How to cook with wine

The real enemies of wine at the table

The contemporary sommelier

Five native grape varieties we are ready to bet on

It was the year…snippets of modern history of wine in Italy

The Villa Sandi Contemporary Wine List Award

The Villa Sandi Contemporary Wine List Award is the prize we reserve for the most current, brilliant and user-friendly wine lists in our Top Italian Restaurants guide, dedicated to the best of Italian dining in the world. While waiting to resume awarding venues around the world, we’re offering an educational journey through the multi-colour ‘Jurassic Park’ that is Italian viticulture. We’re proposing a series of themes, with practical advice and suggestions, published every week on our international website www.gamberorossointernational.com