Who is #1 in Wine? Italy Makes their Claim

By John ~ May 22nd, 2009.
  • Italy says it is #1 in wine production, although it admits it is a close race with France and depends on the vintage.
  • France is #1 in wine exports and historically was #1 in production, too.
  • Spain is #1 in acreage planted to grapes.
  • United States is #1 in wine imports.

Barolo area in Piedmont, ItalyToday, I’m going to focus on Italy. I’ll have to admit that when I used to think of Italy and wine, I thought of the straw covered bottles of house Chianti served in most Italian restaurants during my young adult days. However, today it is a new ballgame. Today, not only does Italy produce a lot of wine, it produces a lot of good wine, too, with excellent QPRs as well.

Italy received great press and notoriety with their Super Tuscans, jazzing up their Sangiovese with Cabernet Sauvignon and other of the top international varietals. In Tuscany, the revolution spread to Chianti with vast improvements in Chianti and especially Chianti Classico wines. In Piedmont, Barolo and Barbaresco have always been respected, but now you see some good Barbera as well.

The ultimate compliment to Italian wines is that you are seeing so many wine producers in the United States experimenting with Italian varietals such as Sangiovese, Barbera, Pinot Grigio, and even Nebbiolo with varying degrees of success.

In our quest to qualify to join the ranks of the Wine Century Club last year, we tasted a number of Italian wine varietals that we had never tasted before and found several that we really liked to add to our list of Italian favorites. Below is a list of some Italian wines that not only are of very good quality but are good values (high QPRs) as well. (Quality: “x” stars out of 5, QPR: “x” bangs for your buck out of 5)

2001 Vietti Castiglione Barolo $30, Quality: 4, QPR: 5
2001 Felsina Fontalloro IGT (Super Tuscan), $35, Quality: 4, QPR: 4
1999 LaGerla Brunello di Montalcino, $20, Quality: 4, QPR: 5
2005 Pasetti Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, $13, Quality: 4, QPR: 5
2003 Cesari Amarone della Valpolicella, $37, Quality: 4, QPR: 4
2005 Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d’Asti, $10, Quality: 4, QPR: 5

The best thing about Italian wines is that they pair so well with food and not just with Italian food. The crisp acidity of the whites and the tanginess of the reds make some of the most food-friendly wine anywhere. And everyone I’ve known that has visited Italy says that Italian wine country is one of the best tourist destinations in the world. It’s on our short list of future wine trips. If you go before we do, let us know what you think.

(Photo from Vietti)

Filed under: Barbera, Brunello, Five-Bangs For Your Buck Wines, Italian Wine, Montepulciano, Moscato/Muscat, Nebbiolo, Pinot Grigio/Pinot Gris, Red Wine, Sangiovese, White Wine

Reader's Comments

  1. Markus | May 22nd, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Hi John,

    Great article with some good information regarding Italian made wines. Personally, I have only limited experience with wines from Italy but will try out your list.

    As far as determining “who is #1?” I think that depends on what you are looking for. When it comes to optimal growing weather/seasons I think California ranks high on the list. When it comes to history and experienced wine makers then Italy and France most likely take top honors.

    I love my California Cabs and Oregon Pinots but personal preference doesn’t always make for #1 in others minds.

    Enjoy the holiday weekend,

  2. Wine Peeps: A Wine Blog » Who is #1 in Wine? Italy Makes their Claim | May 23rd, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    […] See the original post here: Wine Peeps: A Wine Blog » Who is #1 in Wine? Italy Makes their Claim […]

  3. Western Australia Wine | May 24th, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    Traditionally, and in a lot of peoples’ minds and hearts, it will always be France.

  4. John | May 27th, 2009 at 9:20 am

    While traditionally, France has been #1, the point of this post and others we’ve done is that other countries such as Italy and states in the US such as California, Washington, and Oregon are seriousl players in the world of wine today – and their wines are well worth trying.

  5. James Thomas | May 19th, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    i love Italian Food specially those juicy pastas. They are really delicious.;:’

  6. Louie Holmes | July 24th, 2010 at 1:14 am

    i always love italian food, they are really tasty like indian foods.*;,

  7. Henry Anderson | September 9th, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    what i like about italian food is the pasta and spaghetti. they are so yummy.`;

  8. Zener Diode | December 16th, 2010 at 12:41 am

    i would love to munch so many italian foods, italian foods are the best in my opinion and they are very tasty .”.