The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

A Field Guide to Building the Ideal Italian Wine Collection, Part 1

Posted on | February 12, 2015 | Written by Francesco Vigorito | No Comments

Quintarelli-MixOriginally posted at the blog for Revel Cellars, a company that builds custom wine cellars, this post is the first part in a three-part series by Francesco Vigorito of IWM Aspen

As I always like to say, “There is no such thing as great wine; there are only such things as great bottles of wine.” So now the question is this: what makes the ideal Italian wine collection?

Producers, wine regions, vintages, wine styles and varietals: the sheer diversity of Italian wines makes it nearly impossible to curate the proper Italian wine collection without expert and artful guidance. Daunting as Italian wines may be, Italian Wine Merchants is the world’s leading authority on the subject, and since our founding in 1999, we have helped our clients develop their Italian wine collections. It’s a passion, and there’s nothing I love more than introducing people to great Italian wines.

The ideal wine collection will reflect your taste, but for the most part, the best Italian collection will build from a core of pedigreed producers and iconic vintages. In Italy, there are two main regions where most of the collectible wines hail from and those would be Tuscany and Piedmont. Secondary and tertiary regions include the Veneto, Abruzzo, Campania, Friuli and Umbria. Each one of these seven regions is loaded with thousands of producers and hundreds of different grape varietals and winemaking styles, so you can’t just buy random stuff (especially vintage items) off the Internet and expect to amass a respectable and appreciable collection.

Instead, you need to make thoughtful selections of wines that reflect your palate preferences, your lifestyle, and your cellar needs, and, above all, wines that offer pristine provenance. Most Italian wine-lovers would agree that there certain producers in these regions that have proven themselves via decades of winemaking history, and out of the 20,000+ producers in Italy, there may be only a couple dozen or so that deserve a rightful spot in your cellar. There might also be more, depending on the scope of your collection and your taste.

Once I started writing this article I realized that it would be impossible to fit everything I needed to say in one post, so in part two, I’ll start to dive into the backbone of the ideal Italian wine collection. Tuscany and Piedmont are the two main collectible regions in Italy where we find the iconic wines like Brunello di Montalcino, Super Tuscans, Barolo and Barbaresco. Part 3 will explain some of the lesser-known regions and wines of Italy; however, here is where we will find many of the cult superstars that have been stirring up the Italian wine world—including winemakers like Miani, Gravner, Quintarelli, Dal Forno, Valentini, Mastroberardino, Galardi and Paolo Bea.

I hope this preface has whetted your appetite for the next two installments of “A Field Guide to Building the Ideal Italian Wine Collection,” and I look forward to educating on some of the very best wines that Italy has to offer!

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