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The 101 Italian wines capable of narrating Italy, according to the German magazine Falstaff

In the June 2023 issue dedicated to “Dolce Vita” and Italy, the must-have labels to discover the top territories of Italy
The cover of Falstaff (June 2023) dedicated to Italy

Italian wine, with its immense variety and richness, has its territories of excellence. And, within these territories, there are wineries and wines that, in their own way, are leaders, and capable more than others of telling the territories, and, consequently, wine Italy, to those who taste them. Wines that, best of the best, are in some way symbolic, didactic, those that cannot not be tasted, to understand the very territories in which they are born. To select the “101 best Italian wines”, in the June 2023 issue, which has as its cover title “La Dolce Vita - The Italian world of pleasure in all its facets”, is the authoritative German magazine Falstaff, the most followed voice in a market the Teutonic one, which, for Italian producers, is the most important after the American one. In what, Italy correspondent Otmar Kiem explains to WineNews, “is not a ranking, but a selection of very high quality and interesting wines, which, in our opinion, are the fundamental ones to taste in order to understand the variety and diversity of Italian wine, and the essence of some territories. A list from which many other big names are missing, of course, but capable of building an articulate tale of Italian enology”.
So, for example, for Trentino Alto Adige, where the great whites, Trentodoc bubbles and a few red pearls stand out, the selected “champions” are the Vorberg Weisburgunder Riserva Südtirol from Cantina di Terlano, the Sanct Valentin Sauvignon Südtirol from San Michele Appiano, the St. Magdalener Classico Südtirol from Ansitz Waldgries, Franz Haas’s Pònkler Pinot Nero Südtirol, Cantina di Bolzano’s Taber Lagrein Riserva Südtirol, Muri-Gries’s Weingarten Klosteranger Lagrein, Ferrari’s Giulio Ferrari Riserva del Fondatore Trentodoc Brut, and San Leonardo Vigneti delle Dolomiti Igt. In the Piedmont of Langhe, that is, of Barolo and Barbaresco, and beyond, the selected “icon wines”, however, are the “holy monster” Barolo Riserva Monfortino by Giacomo Conterno, and also Barolo Romirasco by Poderi Aldo Conterno, Barolo Brunate by Giuseppe Rinaldi, Barolo Cerequio by Roberto Voerzio, Barolo Aleste by Luciano Sandrone, Barolo Monvigliero by G.B. Burlotto, Massolino’s Barolo Riserva Vigna Rionda, Elio Altare’s Barolo Riserva Cerretta Vigna Bricco, Pio Cesare’s Barolo Ornato, Gaja’s Barbaresco San Lorenzo, Marchesi di Gresy’s Barbaresco Riserva Camp Gros Martinenga, and Antoniolo’s Osso San Grato Gattinara, Vigneti Massa’s Sterpi Derthona, and Braida’s Bricco dell’Uccellone Barbera d’Asti. While for the neighboring small Valle d’Aosta, carrying the flag is Les Cretes’ Fumin Valle d’Aosta.
Another focus is on Liguria’s Vermentino and Rossese, Lombardy’s Franciacorta, Lugana and Valtellina, and Emilia Romagna, with its Sangiovese and Lambrusco. Complex territories, narrated in the bottle, according to Falstaff, by Cantine Lunae Bosoni’s Etichetta Nera Vermentino Colli di Luni, by Maccario Dringenberg’s Posaù Rossese di Dolceacqua Superiore, for Liguria, by Ca’ del Bosco’s Annamaria Clementi Franciacorta Riserva Dosage Zéro, by Arpepe’s Stella Retica Valtellina Superiore Sassella, from Ca’ dei Frati’s Brolettino Lugana Doc, and from Conte Vistarino’s Saignée della Rocca Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico Pinot Nero Rosé Extra Brut, for Lombardy, and again from Cleto Chiarli’s Del Fondatore Lambrusco di Sorbara Frizzante Secco, and from Fattoria Zerbina’s Monografia 2 Romagna Sangiovese Marzeno Riserva for Emilia Romagna.
Then there is the Veneto region, which is synonymous with Amarone della Valpolicella for reds, Soave for whites, and Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Docg, looking at bubbles. The standard bearers of which, for the German magazine, are Allegrini’s Fieramonte Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva, Romano Dal Forno’s Vigneto Monte Lodoletta Amarone della Valpolicella, and Tedeschi’s Capitel Monte Olmi Amarone della Valpolicella, Bertani’s Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Pieropan’s Calvarino Soave Classico, Gini’s Contrada Salvarenza Soave Classico, and Andreola’s Col del Forno Rive di Refrontolo Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Brut, and Giustino B. Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry by Ruggeri. From Veneto then we move on to Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, where the great whites of Collio, but not only, dominate. Examples of which, for the German magazine, are Gravner’s Ribolla, Vie di Romans’ Curie Climat Chardonnay Friuli Isonzo, Edi Keber’s Collio Bianco, Miani’s Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso Friuli Colli Orientali, Jermann’s Vintage Tunina Bianco (now owned by Marchesi Antinori), Lis Fadis’ Surrosso Rosso Venezia Giulia, Primosic’s Ribolla Gialla Riserva Collio and Lis Neris’ Gris Pinot Grigio Friuli Isonzo.
Moving further south, and scrolling through the pages of Falstaff, one’s gaze then turns to the Tuscany of the great reds of Bolgheri and Chianti Classico, the Maremma and Montalcino, where the solo voice is that of Sangiovese, accompanied by a chorus of great expressions of international grape varieties that have found an ideal habitat among the hills of Tuscany. An oenological mosaic to be discovered through some of the world's most celebrated labels, such as Tenuta San Guido’s Sassicaia and Tenuta dell’Ornellaia’s Ornellaia, passing through Tenuta La Massa’s Giorgio Primo Toscana Igt, Le Pupille’s Saffredi, Fontodi’s Pieve Colli della Toscana Centrale’s Flaccianello, Isole and Olena’s Cepparello (now owned by the Epi Group, which also owns Biondi Santi, ed.), Marchesi Antinori’s Tignanello, Montevertine’s Le Pergole Torte, San Giusto a Rentennano’s Percarlo, Castello di Monsanto’s Vigna Il Poggio Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, Casanova di Neri’s Tenuta Nuova Brunello di Montalcino, and Poggio di Sotto’s Brunello di Montalcino Riserva.
From Tuscany to the small and green Umbria, told by labels from wineries pioneering viticulture in the region, realities without which their appellations would probably be unknown to most, and perhaps, in some cases, would not even exist. Such as Montefalco with its Sagrantino, symbolized, of course, by Caprai’s 25 Anni Sagrantino di Montefalco, Lungarotti’s Rubesco Vigna Monticchio Torgiano Rosso Riserva, or the Cervaro della Sala Umbria Bianco Igt from Castello della Sala, Antinori’s Umbrian winery.
The journey continues toward the Adriatic, crossing the Marche region of Verdicchio of Rosso Conero, Abruzzo of Trebbiano and Montepulciano, and tiny Molise, with its Tintilia. The most shining examples of which are, on Falstaff’s list, Villa Bucci’s Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Riserva, Oasi degli Angeli’s Kurni Rosso Marche Igt, Umani Ronchi’s Campo San Giorgio Conero Riserva, Santa Barbara’s Stefano Antonucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore and Tenuta di Tavignano’s Misco Riserva Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio Classico Riserva, for wines from the Marche, Masciarelli’s Villa Gemma Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva and Valentini’s Trebbiano d’Abruzzo for those from Abruzzo, and Claudio Cipressi’s Macchiarossa Tintilia del Molise for those from Molise. From the Adriatic side, the journey returns to the Tyrrhenian side, between Lazio and Campania. Ancient regions, where wine production winds between coastlines and soils of volcanic origin, whose symbols, on the Lazio front, are the Cotarella Family’s Montiano, Casale del Giglio’s Mater Matuta, and Ômina Romana’s Ars Magna Cabernet Franc, while on the Campania front are Marisa Cuomo’s Furore Bianco Fiorduva Costa d’Amalfi, Cantine degli Astroni’s Vigna Astroni Falanghina Campi Flegrei, Di Meo’s Vittorio Greco di Tufo Riserva, Quintodecimo’s Vigna Grande Cerzito Taurasi Riserva and Galardi’s Terra di Lavoro.
Then it is the turn of the “heel and toe” of the Boot, bringing together Puglia, one of the emerging Italian wine regions of recent years, and Calabria, a land rich in wine history, joined by tiny Molise. Lands that tell a great oenological variety that is difficult to summarize, but which for Falstaff are able to sum up Gianfranco Fino’s Es Primitivo del Salento, Tenute Rubino’s Torre Testa Susumaniello Rosso Brindisi Doc, Tenute Chiaromonte’s Muro Sant’Angelo Contrada Barbatto Primitivo Gioia del Colle, and Leone de Castris’s Five Roses Anniversario Rosato SalentoIgt for Puglia, Elena Fucci’s Titolo Aglianico del Vulture and Cantine del Notaio’s La Firma Aglianico del Vulture for Molise, and again, for Calabria, Librandi’s Gravello, and Statti’s Mantonico. Finally, but only in geographical order, it is the turn of those treasure chests of history and diverse wines that are the Major Islands, namely Sicily and Sardinia. Lands in which the variety of grape varieties and territories that unravel from the Mediterranean coast to the highlands of the hinterland is enormous. But for Falstaff, the wines not to be missed in discovering these territories are in Sicily, Tasca d’Almerita’s Rosso del Conte, Planeta’s Menfi Chardonnay, Donnafugata’s Mille e una Notte, Florio’s Baglio Florio Marsala Vergine and the Franchetti family’s R (Contrada Rampante) Terre Siciliane di Passopisciaro, and again moving to Sardinia, Argiolas’ Turriga Isola dei Nuraghi, Cantina Santadi’s Terre Brune Carignano del Sulcis Superiore, and Siddùra’s Maìa Vermentino di Gallura Superiore.
A list of iconic wines from great Italian wineries, realities that, in some cases, represent the continuity of ancient traditions and territories and centuries-old business histories, and that, in others, are realizations of pioneering dreams sometimes started from scratch. But, without a doubt, wineries and wines that have marked the history, more remote and more recent, of Italian wine, and that will be its guide for the near future.

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