When it comes to the world’s most prominent wine-making countries, Italy has long been recognised as one of the best, and today it continues to produce a number of luxury, high-end wines that are worthy of pride of place in any self-respecting collector’s cellar.
Home to some of the most expansive vineyards, which are set in the lush green hills of its most renowned wine regions across the country, Italy offers up the perfect climate conditions for planting and growing grapes, so it’s perhaps little wonder that the country retains the lead as the biggest producer in the world, making up around a quarter of the world’s wine grapes overall.
With around 2,000 varieties in total, each bringing its own distinctive taste to the table, and wine regions found in the north – including Veneto, which has a colder climate and is where most white wine grapes are grown – and the warmer south, which includes Tuscany and is famed for its production of world-class red wines, there’s no denying that Italy remains at the top of its game when it comes to producing some of our favourite tipples.
We asked one of Italy’s most esteemed winemakers, Domus Vini, to pick out four of the finest luxury wines worth investing in this year – whether to age in your cellar for later, or to pop open and enjoy right away.
Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore DOP
Valpolicella Ripasso Classico wines are produced specifically from grapes grown within the traditional ‘classico’ vineyard of the Valpolicella, a viticultural zone of the province of Verona, located just east of Lake Garda. A hilly agricultural and marble-quarrying region, the region’s Ripasso wines are more complex than their more traditional Valpolicella counterparts and tend to be higher in tannins thanks to the ‘ripasso’ method of production used, which is based around re-fermenting the tannin-rich skins of the grapes for a second time and is also used to make the area’s ‘passito’ wines.
This particular Valpolicella Superiore Dop is characterised by extra depth and complexity when compared with classic Valpolicella wines, and comprises distinctive nuances of cherry and cocoa. Its notable structure and exquisite taste make it a must-try for anyone who takes their fine wines seriously, and with a pleasantly fruity aftertaste, punctuated by subtle spicy scents, it’s bound to win you over.
Prosecco Spago DOP
Prosecco, of course, comes only from Italy, and is more specifically grown in the regions of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia in the northern hills north of Treviso.
Made predominantly from Glera grapes, formerly also known as Prosecco grapes, other varieties such as Bianchetta Trevigiana may also be included, with most proseccos characterised by subtle fruity and floral notes and light bubbles. Finer versions tend to exhibit greater complexity, with notes of honeycomb, vanilla, hazelnut, banana and tropical fruits often present.
The exquisite Prosecco Spago DOP is a fine choice for a special occasion, and is both fresh and lively in equal measures, with a fragrant, semi-aromatic bouquet and fruity hints including crisp apple and sweet pear.
Pinot Nero IGP
The pinot nero grape, also known as pinot noir, is a red grape variety that is traditionally cultivated in South Tyrol, the Collio Goriziano, Franciacort, Veneto, Friuli and Trentino, and it is now also grown in Tuscany. This distinctive red grape variety is instantly recognisable within its vineyards because it grows in tightly clustered, pinecone-shaped bunches, and showcases a complex bouquet comprising elegant blackberry, tobacco and spice.
The opulent IGP is an appealing bright red colour with garnet highlights and features initial delicate autumn leaf nuances on a fine nose. It’s a powerful dry but mildly sweet and tangy choice that pairs excellently with meats and mature cheeses.
Ribolla Gialla IGP
An ancient white wine grape grown mostly in the Friuli Venezia Giulia – a breath-taking region set in the foothills of the Dolomites, ribolla gialla relies on the Bora wind to help retain its freshness. Bright yellow in colour, it pairs perfectly with fresh seafood and Thai cuisine.
Lively and brilliant, this particular variety features an aromatic and intense bouquet, with fruity notes of melon, peach and apple, with a hint of acacia flower. Dry yet persistent to taste, its fresh acidity, minerality and complexity makes it an alluring choice that will no doubt soon become a new favourite.