Italy

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Buyers' Report 2020: Italy

Contents

Sarah Knowles MW Sarah Knowles MW

Piedmont has been described by many as ‘the next Burgundy’ and it is easy to see why. The complex system of hillside slopes, conical suntraps and valleys, coupled with the intricate underlying geology means that the comparisons are easily drawn. The ‘next’ in this phrase however refers to the clear sense that many of us are still discovering this fine wine region. With talented winemakers now crafting cellarworthy complex wines from mature nebbiolo vines that can reflect site-specific terroir, this really is a region to watch.

The recent 2015 releases go a long way to show why: it is a fabulous vintage with great quality across the board. The conditions in 2016 have allowed even more nuance with the character of individual sites really shining through. Their complementary charms show them as two great vintages that are a must for any cellar. The 2017 vintage will need more care in selection, as frost and drought affected yields, but a warm summer (leading to ripe sweet fruit) was tempered by cool nights and a long autumn retaining good acidity, drawing comparisons with the 2011s. 2018 and 2019 are almost too soon to tell, although the wines show great promise.

Tuscany has had a great year with the release of the stunning 2016 Chianti Classicos and our first en primeur offer for the world-renowned 2015 Brunello vintage. I can’t wait to taste the 2016 Brunellos (now coming out of barrel and which should be superb), and the 2017 Chiantis I have tried so far have been charming. Look out for further riserva wines from 2016 – this really is a vintage that will go down in Italian winemaking history.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for great value at ‘anyday’ prices, Italy is currently knocking it out of the park! From Veneto to Puglia, the 2018s and 2019s are singing. The combination of warm summers with often coast-cooled vines means the fruit has been able to ripen without pressure, creating a diverse and delicious selection from the many esoteric native grape varieties that Italy is known for.

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