Until very recently the fine wine world has been dominated by France’s heavy hitters, the regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy.
Yet in the first seven months of 2020, the value of Italian wines being traded on the secondary market has surged 70% compared to the same period during 2019. Driving this growth is a combination of factors: Italy’s current immunity on 25% US trade tariffs on EU wines; a run of cracking recent vintages; and enticing prices when compared with many leading Bordeaux and Burgundy producers.
The only small snag is that Italy’s top-tier wines aren’t as well known as their big name Bordeaux counterparts like Cheval Blanc, Chateau Margaux or Chateau Haut-Brion.
To rectify this, OenoFuture is showcasing three of Italy’s most coveted wines at a very special tasting at Venice’s Casinò Di Venezia this month, which will coincide with the International Film Festival. Here’s a sneak peek at three of the top producers featuring at the event.
Angelo Gaja is arguably Italy’s most famous winemaker. His vivacious personality and unerring commitment to quality have both helped to build the foundations of his country’s modern wine industry.
The Gaja family estate was founded in 1859 with two hectares of prime vineyards in Barbaresco, but it was under Angelo’s dynamic leadership from the 1970s onwards that the property began producing world-class wines.
Over the years Angelo has helped put Barbaresco on the map for fine wine, and has also made significant investments in Bolgheri and Montalcino in Tuscany.
As is so often the case, Gaja’s fame has been stoked by both brilliance and controversy. Some of Angelo’s more divisive decisions include leaving the Barbaresco Consorzio and planting cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay within the Barbaresco appellation.
More recently Angelo has stepped back from the running of the winery to allow his two daughters, Gaia and Rossana, and their younger brother Giovanni to make their own mark.
Recent changes include a renewed focus on boosting biodiversity on the estate and on sustainability in the vineyards. Angelo’s children have also rejoined the Barbaresco Consorzio and now once again label their wines under the region’s official DOCG system.
The wines of Montevertine are considered textbook expressions of the sangiovese grape and enjoy a cult following
Set in the verdant heart of Chianti Classico, Montevertine is a modest 11 hectare estate with a big role in modern Italian winemaking history.
The first vineyard was planted by Sergio Manetti in 1967 who left his career to invest in wine with winemaker Giulio Gambelli. A decade or so later, Montevertine perfected its top-level Chianti Classico, but by 1981 Manetti was finding the strict regulations of the Consorzio stifling.
While Manetti dreamed of producing wines that would authentically capture the local terroir and the beauty of the sangiovese grape, Chianti producers were forced to blend in white grape varieties and were prohibited from making 100% sangiovese wines. For Manetti, the only way forward was to leave the Consorzio and simply label his wines as Vino da Tavola or ‘Table Wine’.
This bold decision propelled Montevertine to yet greater heights of quality and prestige. His wines became the very first ‘Super Tuscans’, top-quality fine wines made outside Italy’s carefully controlled appellation system.
Today, the wines of Montevertine are considered textbook expressions of the sangiovese grape and enjoy a cult following among collectors from the USA to China.
This historic Veneto estate dates back to 1924, but the current success of the property is largely owing to Giuseppe Quintarelli, who insisted on pursuing quality traditional methods while his neighbours embraced mass-scale production.
Today, the estate which bears his name has a global reputation for exceptionally complex Amarone which ages for years in Slavonian oak.
Quintarelli Giuseppe is now in the hands of Giuseppe’s daughter Fiorenza, his son-in-law Giampaolo, and his grandsons Francesco and Lorenzo who have worked hard to preserve many of the founder’s traditions while also ensuring the estate keeps up with the times.
One moving connection with the past is the charming labels which mimic old-fashioned handwriting and remind of the artisanal nature of these exquisite wines.
For more information on Italian fine wine, go to oenogroup.com