Wine Guide
Piedmont Tuscany
Italy Fine Wines
Italians, as we know, are finely tuned beasts. This goes from their fashion and cars right through to their food. So it would only be natural that when talking about Italian wine, we shouldn’t expect the ordinary.

Italy is the world’s largest wine producer, and second largest exporter (France takes first place). There are over 2,000 varietals of Italian grapes, at least 350 different producers and, at last count, 20 regions. The export market is worth over €6 million. Which means that when it comes to the Italian fine wine, it’s easy to get lost. Realistically, however, we need to concentrate really to just three main regions - Veneto, Tuscany and Piedmont. There are three other minor regions - Marche, Lombardy and Sicily that have the potential to create some marvels, and should not be omitted when considering investing in Italian fine wine.
But first, the science bit
Before being able to understand the regions, it is important to understand the labelling. Much like the French A.O.C., the Italians use D.O.C., which stands for "controlled designation of origin" and is a label of quality assurance - expect to see it on everything from cheese to honey. D.O.C. wines are made with Italian grapes and the producer will have taken out all the lower quality grapes used for making vinegar or cooking wine, thereby elevating his source product (and charging prices to match).

The other acronym used in Italian fine wine is I.G.T., which stands for "typical geographic indication". This is used for wines made with non-Italian grapes (such as Bordeaux style wines using that use Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot).
The Italians like to keep it local. If you are sitting in St. Mark’s Square, a glass of red in hand, you will almost undoubtedly be drinking a Veneto wine. Ditto for Verona (only substitute the red for a glass of gorgeous Amarone). The large stretch of land to the top right of Italy’s boot that houses these two lovely cities is also home to some of Italy’s finest red varieties - think rich Valpolicellas and creamy Bardolinos. Its white wines (crisp Soaves and sparkling proseccos) are pretty spectacular too.

Set against the spectacular backdrop of the Alps, wines from Veneto have found favour in the global market. Amarone di Valpolicella, and Recioto della Valpolicella (a spectacularly concentrated and extremely complicated version of Amarone) are perhaps the most interesting wines from an investors point of view: both D.O.C. classifications offer extended ageing (up to 20 years in some cases). In order to carry the Valpolicella name, blends are legally required to be at least 45% Corvina and 5% Rondinella, with 25% any other “red grape suitable for cultivation in Verona” that could be from a long list. The list includes Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Merlot, and Teroldego, but there are others. Not one of the latter gapes listed can make up more than 10%.

Whether starting or expanding your cellar or wine portfolio, certain producers from Veneto can be considered as sure things. Among our favourites for their ageing, quality and ROI are: Romano Dal Forno, Bertani, and Giuseppe Quintarelli.
By far the most picturesque winemaking region of Italy, Tuscany is poetry to southern Italy's prose. Its climate is perfect: the cooling breezes from the Tyrrhenian Sea offer welcome respite in the hot summer months prior to harvest. Its sandy-clay terroir is ideal for strong, structured wines that are full-bodied and rich in colour (thanks to the iron percentage in the soil). The second region to produce the highest ratio of D.O.C. wines (after Veneto), Tuscany’s Sangiovese from the Chianti Classico region is what put it on the map, and is what keeps it there. Any wine produced within the holy trinity of Chianti, Montalcino and Montepulciano can carry the Sangiovese application.

While Sangiovese wines are certainly part of central Italy’s national heritage, certain savvy producers in the 1970s took to experimenting with Cabernet and Merlot and created the Super Tuscan. Exceedingly popular whether you are an investor or an aficionado, Super Tuscan wines carry the I.G.T. label. Whiles some (very few) wines have 100% Italian grapes, the original blends were made with French grapes - typically Bordeaux (or “noble”) varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. However, it’s not all about the red: white wines produced with Trebbiano (Italy’s most popular white grape) are popular in Tuscany with certain producers releasing stunning vintages that have great appeal for both primary buyers and the investor market.

With Tuscan wines outperforming Bordeaux in the last five consecutive years (2014-2019) while investing in Tuscan wines might not always be the popular choice, it can often be the right one. We are particularly keen on xxxxx.
When talking about Italian red wines and their growing regions, it would be impossible not to mention Piedmont. A stone’s throw from the French border, the Piedmont region is found at the foot of the Alps (the other side to Veneto) and produces wines of great gusto; both big bodied and superbly perfumed. The main regions are of course Barolo and Barbaresco and the king grape here is undoubtedly Nebbiolo. Some whites, particularly the increasingly fashionable Gavi (made with Cortese grapes) are giving the reds a run for their money. Realising that people wanted wines for cellaring and investment (as well as immediate drinking), many Barolo winemakers made the switch to ageing in French oak barrels. This pushed ageability to around 20 years for some of the highest quality wines. Another change wines of Piemonte has seen is the gradual move from 100% single vineyard to blending; it is not uncommon to find Nebbiolo blended with Barbera, Merlot, Cabernet or even Syrah.

Although often lumped together, Barolo and Barbaresco show great differences. Barolo, the so-called “wine of kings and king of wines” is a great beast of a wine. Bringing the heft of 150 years of history with it, Barolo Riservas require a minimum of five years in wood and bottle before release, are velvety smooth yet surprisingly lean and are probably Italy’s most famous export. Barbaresco, on the other hand, is lighter, earlier to mature (just four years in barrel or botti prior to release) and a bit easier in the glass. Because both regions are so close in proximity, soil topography is very similar. Both have been producing excellent vintages since the late 1990s and bar, 2002, almost every one is a winner. If we had to pick our favourite however it would no doubt be 2010.
Notable producers of Piedmont:
While there is no foolproof formula to say whether investing in Veneto, Tuscan or Piedmont wines (or even the lesser regions) will make your fortune, low yields such as in the notable producers often go hand in hand with skyrocketing prices. Producers such as Gaja, Bruno Giacosa, Giacomo Conterno, and Poderi Aldo Conterno as considered safe investments. Please always ask your dealer for advice prior to making any investment decision.