Curious about the world of Italian red wine and the best ones to buy?
From simple drinking wines to coveted collectible treasures (especially the ones from Tuscany and Piedmont) - you’ll find it all in the exciting Italian red wine world.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the Italian appellation system, and the best grapes grown here. You’ll also discover some of the best Italian reds to buy in 2020 and the smartest way to collect them!
This Article Contains
- Italian Red Wine
- Italian Red Wine Labels and Quality Standards
- Popular Italian Red Wine Grapes
- Best Italian Red Wine (by Region) 2020 (Including Prices, Tasting Notes)
- Piedmont (Piemont)
- 2010 Giacomo Conterno Monfortino Barolo Riserva DOCG
- 2010 Giuseppe Mascarello e Figlio Monprivato Ca d'Morissio, Barolo Riserva DOCG
- 2004 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo DOCG
- 2013 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva DOCG
- 2014 Falletto di Bruno Giacosa 'Le Rocche di Castiglione Falletto
- 2016 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Bolgheri
- 2006 Basse di Gianfranco Soldera Brunello Montalcino Riserva DOCG
- 2015 Masseto Toscana IGT
- 2015 Case Basse di Gianfranco Soldera Toscana IGT
- 2015 Ornellaia Vendemmia d'Artista Special Edition Bolgheri Superiore
- Sicily (Sicilia)
- South Tyrol
- Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Italian Red Wines
Over 500 different grape varieties are grown in Italy, 350 of which are used to make wines, and over 100 of them are used in Italian Red Wines (or Rosso).
Let’s first look at how Italian red wines are labelled, the quality classifications, and the Italian appellation system.
Italian Wine Labels and Quality Standards
The abbreviation you find on Italian red wine labels are used to indicate the quality and category of Italian wine.
There are five main categories of Italian wines.
- VdT: VdT vino are ‘Table Wines’ intended for everyday use.
- IGT or Typical Geographical Identification: The IGT classification was created after DOC and DOCG. These wines have to undergo a few quality checks.
- VQPRD: VQPRD stands for ‘Quality wine produced in a specific region’.
- DOC or Controlled Designation of Origin: The regulations for each DOC wine prescribe the wine color, production area, permitted grape varieties, alcohol levels, and winemaking techniques.
- DOCG or Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin: DOCG is the highest designation of wine quality in Italy. The permitted varietal yields are lower. Each wine must pass a detailed technical analysis and tasting to get the seal of approval from the Agriculture Ministry.
In 1963, Italy first launched its Appellation system. There are four main categories in the Italian Appellation System - from Vini, the classification for table wines to the highest classification of Vini DOP which has to follow stringent winemaking norms.
If you want to know all about French wines and the wine regions, check out these informative guides:
Popular Italian Red Wine Types and Grape Varieties
Italy produces some of the most flavorsome grape varieties. Here are the most popular Italian red wine grapes.
A purple colored grape, Sangiovese grape produces intense sour cherry flavors with subtle earthy aromas. Although not as aromatic as other red wine grapes, it is a key grape in the Chianti wines.
Super Tuscans, Brunello di Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino, Chianti, Carmignano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano are some of the best wines made from Sangiovese grapes.
Regions grown: Tuscany, Umbria, Campania, and Romagna
Aging Potential: Selected vintages can age from 10 to 20 years.
Barbera is the third most planted red wine grape in Italy. It is not as tannic as Primitivo but the Barbera grape produces highly acidic, textured Italian wine.
Barbera d’Asti is one of the finest wines that are made from Barbera grapes. The savory flavors of this grape are best expressed in a Barbera d’Asti wine.
Regions Produced: Piedmont, Emilia-Romagna, Puglia, Campania, Sicily, and Sardinia
Aging Potential: Up to 15 years
If Sangiovese grape is associated with Chianti wines, then Nebbiolo grape is associated with Barolo and Barbaresco wines. Nebbiolo grape wines, especially from Piedmont, taste best after aging for years.
Nebbiolo red wine grape produces full-bodied wines that are highly tannic with beautiful floral aromas.
The best wines produced from this grape are Barbaresco and Barolo that are perfect for cellaring.
Regions Produced: Piedmont
Aging Potential: 20+ years
Native to central Italy, Montepulciano red grape (not related to Vino Nobile di Montepulciano) is known to produce deep red wines with soft flavors and gentle tannins.
For more on Montepulciano d'Abruzzo wine, check out this detailed article.
Regions Produced: Eastern Abruzzo, Marche and Molise
Aging Potential: Up to 15 years
This Italian grape is considered as a poor cousin to Nebbiolo and Barbera. But this red grape is popular among the local wine lovers. Fruit flavors dominate Dolcetto wines and its soft tannins make it a great table wine.
Regions Produced: Piedmont
Aging Potential: 2-4 years
6. Nero d’Avola
Also known as Calabrese, Nero d’Avola is the most widely grown grape variety in Sicily.
The dark color of berries and high tannins make nero d’avola a suitable blending partner to create rich, full-bodied red wines. You’ll also find the name ‘Calabrese’ instead of ‘Nero d’avola’ on Italian wine labels.
Regions Produced: Sicily, Calabria
Aging Potential: 10+years
A red wine grape that produced wines with high acidity and firm tannins. Aglianico is a great wine for aging. Young Aglianico is highly tannic and concentrated in nature.
Regions Produced: Basilicata and Campania
Aging Potential: 10 to 15 years
With a history that goes back 1500 years, Negroamaro is a key ingredient in the Puglia wines. Famous for its medium tannins and berry fruit flavors, Negroamaro wines also have a hint of earthy flavors and spices.
Region Produced: Puglia
Aging Potential: 5-10 years
A key constituent in the Valpolicella wines, Corvina grapes are known for their sour cherry flavors, bright red color, and light structure.
Region Produced: Veneto
Aging Potential: 10 to 20 years
Best Italian Red Wine (by Region) 2020 - Including Prices, Tasting Notes
Here are some of the best ones that you could buy - be it to pair with your classic Italian food or as a long term investment!
The best known wines from Piedmont are Barolo and Barbaresco made from the Nebbiolo grape. The other red wine grapes grown here include Barbera, Dolcetto, Freisa, Bonarda, Grignolino, Croatina, Quagliano, and Pelaverga.
Among the white wines (Bianco), Moscato d’Asti makes excellent Italian white wine especially in the regions of Asti and Alba. These wines are known for their aromas, and sweet alcoholic flavors. Zinfandel (Primitivo) wines are a great substitute to Moscato d’Asti as they are dry, sweet and have a strong body.
Be sure to check out these red wines from Piedmont:
1. 2010 Giacomo Conterno Monfortino Barolo Riserva DOCG
Barolo and Barbaresco wines of Piedmont are some of the finest Nebbiolo wines made in Italy. This Barolo wine is a 100% Nebbiolo wine that can age from 20 to 40 years. It is bold and full-bodied with rich earthy and spicy flavors.
The Nebbiolo grape lends the wine rich dark fruit flavors making it perfect to be paired with Lamb or any classic Italian dish.
Average price of 2010 Giacomo Conterno Monfortino Barolo Riserva DOCG: $1,658
2. 2010 Giuseppe Mascarello e Figlio Monprivato Ca d'Morissio, Barolo Riserva DOCG
This wine has a dominant earthy flavor perfectly balanced with red fruit notes. It is dry and highly acidic like its counterpart Barbaresco and can age for around 25 years.
Average price of 2010 Giuseppe Mascarello e Figlio Monprivato Ca d'Morissio, Barolo Riserva DOCG: $803
3. 2004 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo DOCG
This bold and tannic wine is known for its dry and acidic texture and can age for at least 15 years. Although not as dry as Lambrusco wines, this Barolo leaves a refreshing finish. The Nebbiolo grapes give the wine a sour red cherry flavor. This Barolo is perfectly paired with beef and lamb.
Average price of 2004 Giuseppe Rinaldi Barolo DOCG: $437
4. 2013 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva DOCG
This Nebbiolo wine offers intense earthy flavors on the palate with dominant hints of spices and sour red berries. The unique savory wine can age well for over 20 years.
Average price of 2013 Giacomo Conterno Barolo Riserva DOCG: $1,356
5. 2014 Falletto di Bruno Giacosa 'Le Rocche di Castiglione Falletto
A classic Nebbiolo red wine, the Le Rocche di Castiglione Falletto is one of the most savory ones to be made from the grape variety. On the palate, you can taste dark berry flavors with classic earthy tones of Nebbiolo wines.
Average price of 2014 Falletto di Bruno Giacosa 'Le Rocche di Castiglione Falletto’: $419
The rolling hills and warm, temperate coastal regions of Tuscany are known for Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano wines. These climes are perfect for growing the indigenous Sangiovese grapes that make excellent wines like the Chianti Classico from the Chianti region.
You’ll also find “Super Tuscan” Italian red wines like Ornellaia, Sassicaia, Le Pergole Torte, and Tignanello made using non-indigenous grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Keep an eye out for these excellent wines from under the Tuscan sun!
1. 2016 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Bolgheri
This exotic and well-structured Tuscan wine is a fine example of Super Tuscans. It’s made from a blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cabernet Sauvignon in the Tenuta brings out unique flavors.
Average price of 2016 Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia Bolgheri: $332
2. 2006 Basse di Gianfranco Soldera Brunello Montalcino Riserva DOCG
This wine from Brunello di Montalcino appellation is as popular as the Chiantis with its intense aromas and unique flavors.
The 2006 Brunello Montalcino red wine is made from the Sangiovese italian grape from the Brunello di Montalcino appellation, and has bold structure and high tannins.
Average price of 2006 Basse di Gianfranco Soldera Brunello Montalcino Riserva DOCG: $708
3. 2015 Masseto Toscana IGT
Another great substitute for Chianti, the Masseto Toscana IGT is a versatile one that can be perfectly paired with almost every Italian dish. It is slightly acidic with blackberry and plum fruity flavors, and can age for 10 to 20 years.
Average price of 2015 Masseto Toscana IGT: $890
4. 2015 Case Basse di Gianfranco Soldera Toscana IGT
This bold structured Italian red wine is 100% Sangiovese and is often compared to the rich Chianti Classico and Lambrusco. On the palate, blackcurrant and black cherry dominate the oaky flavors and aromas of red cherries and spices.
Average price of 2015 Case Basse di Gianfranco Soldera Toscana IGT: $590
5. 2015 Ornellaia Vendemmia d'Artista Special Edition Bolgheri Superiore
This Tuscan Italian red is made in the Bordeaux Blend style using Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and is as popular as the Chianti Classicos from the region. It is bold and structured with red fruit flavors and hints of spices, which you may not find in a classic Chianti.
Average price of 2015 Ornellaia Vendemmia d'Artista Special Edition Bolgheri Superiore: $437
Now let's look at the other Italian red wine regions and some of the best wines you could try out.
Other Italian Red Wine Regions and their Wines
Veneto may not be as large as the Piedmont and the Tuscany wine regions, but it produces hugely popular Italian red wines like the Valpolicella and Amarones.
You’ll find grape varieties like Chardonnay, Malbec, Pinot Bianco, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Nero and Carmenere grown in the Veneto region.
Here’s a food pairing suggestion especially for Amarone wines from the Veneto region - they go best with aged cheese and classic Italian food.
Wines to buy from the Veneto region:
- 2011 Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG Selection
(Average price of 2011 Giuseppe Quintarelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG Selection: $1,446)
- 2012 Dal Forno Romano Vigneto Monte Lodoletta, Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG
(Average price of 2012 Dal Forno Romano Vigneto Monte Lodoletta, Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG: $329)
The Emilia Romagna wine region lies between Veneto and Tuscany in the north of Italy. So Romagna red wines boast unique flavors and influences from both the regions. The grapes grown here are Lambrusco, Barbarossa, Ancellota and Sangiovese.
Wines to buy from the Emilia-Romagna region:
- 2012 Conde 'Massera' Merlot, Emilia-Romagna
(Average price of 2012 Conde 'Massera' Merlot, Emilia-Romagna: $134)
- 2010 Umberto Cesari 'Tauleto' Sangiovese Rubicone IGT, Emilia Romagna
(Average price of 2010 Umberto Cesari 'Tauleto' Sangiovese Rubicone IGT, Emilia Romagna: $96)
3. Sicily (Sicilia)
Sicily in Southern Italy is one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the oldest viticultural regions in Europe. From Etna to Marsala, Sicilian wines enjoy wide popularity in the country and outside.
Wines to buy from the Sicily region:
- 2017 Frank Cornelissen 'Magma' Terre Siciliane Rosso IGT
(Average price of 2017 Frank Cornelissen 'Magma' Terre Siciliane Rosso IGT: $263)
- 2015 Graci 'Arcuria Sopra Il Pozzo' Etna Rosso
(Average price of 2015 Graci 'Arcuria Sopra Il Pozzo' Etna Rosso: $146)
The rivers flowing through this mountainous wine region make the vineyard plots extremely fertile. Unlike Lazio, its counterpart in central Italy, Abruzzo is a predominant red wine region.
The red wine grape, Montepulciano is the star of the region and is a key ingredient in most Abruzzo wines.
Wines to buy from the Abruzzo region:
- 2006 Azienda Agricola Valentini Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
(Average price of 2006 Azienda Agricola Valentini Montepulciano d'Abruzzo: $306)
- 2010 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
(Average price of 2010 Emidio Pepe Montepulciano d'Abruzzo: $162)
Known for the white wine varieties of Fianco and Greco, Campania in Southern Italy also produces some of the best Italian red wines like Aglianico. Aglianico is the most widely produced grape variety of Campania followed by Barbera.
Wines to buy from the Campania region:
- 2010 Joaquin 'Della Societa’
(Average price of 2010 Joaquin 'Della Societa’: $132)
- 2010 Mastroberardino Villa dei Misteri Rosso Pompeiano IGT
(Average price of 2010 Mastroberardino Villa dei Misteri Rosso Pompeiano IGT: $194)
Marche in eastern Italy is known for its white wines and a few note-worthy reds. An Italian red from Marche will mostly be made from Montepulciano or Sangiovese grapes which give the wines dark fruity flavors.
Wines to buy from the Marche region:
- 2015 Oasi degli Angeli Kurni Rosso Marche IGT
(Average price of 2015 Oasi degli Angeli Kurni Rosso Marche IGT: $114)
- 2010 Il Pollenza Marche IGT
(Average price of 2010 Il Pollenza Marche IGT: $66)
7. South Tyrol
Situated in northern Italy, German influences on the region are reflected in its wines. The most widely planted grape varieties of the region is Schiava that produces wines with low alcohol and tannin levels.
Wines to buy from the South Tyrolregion:
- 2016 Girlan 'Vigna Ganger' Riserva Pinot Noir Alto Adige - Sudtirol
(Average price of 2016 Girlan 'Vigna Ganger' Riserva Pinot Noir Alto Adige - Sudtirol: $146)
- 2015 Ansitz Waldgries 'Roblinus de Waldgries' Lagrein Alto Adige
(Average price of 2015 Ansitz Waldgries 'Roblinus de Waldgries' Lagrein Alto Adige: $96)
8. Friuli-Venezia Giulia
Friuli-Venezia Giulia winemakers craft exquisite wines from a blend of indigenous and foreign grape varieties that are rich in flavor and savory on the palate.
Wines to buy from the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region:
- 2006 Miani 'Calvari' Refosco Colli Orientali del Friuli
(Average price of 2006 Miani 'Calvari' Refosco Colli Orientali del Friuli: $727)
- 2009 Miani Buri Colli Orientali del Friuli Merlot
(Average price of 2009 Miani Buri Colli Orientali del Friuli Merlot: $325)
So, how do you buy the best Italian reds without being overwhelmed by the range of grapes, flavors, and wine regions?
How can you be sure that you’re buying an authentic bottle at the best prices?
We’ll tell you how!
Buy the Best Italian Red Wine Bottles through Vinovest
Vinovest is an expert wine investment company that lets you buy the best Italian red wines and any other bottles from anywhere in the world.
How Does it Work?
It takes just a few steps to start your wine investment journey through Vinovest. Here’s what you need to do:
- Sign up on the Vinovest website.
- Share your risk appetite and investment preferences.
- Fund your account - the minimum investment amount is $1000.
- Start building your fine wine portfolio and drop into the website occasionally to see it grow!
Benefits of Vinovest
Here are a few reasons why you should try it today.
Vinovest uses AI-driven technology and finds the perfect wines for you based on your investment preferences.
Our AI experts combine their expertise with quantitative investment models to give you a perfectly curated wine portfolio.
Vinovest buys wine directly from the winery or producers, and from trusted wine merchants ensuring you get the best price.
Low Overall Cost
Vinovest takes care of wine buying, wine fraud detection, storage, insurance, selling, and active management of your portfolio. All these services are provided at a minimal annual charge of 2.85% (which goes down to 2.5% when your portfolio is larger than $50,000.)
You won’t have to worry about wine storage as well. Vinovest stores your wine safely in temperature and climate-controlled bonded warehouses located near the best wine regions in the world.
Vinovest is insured with an FDIC-equivalent for wine - this protects each bottle of yours against breakage and loss.
Easy Selling and Delivery
Vinovest makes it super-easy to sell your wine at any time. Moreover, if at any time you wish to open your bottle of wine, they’ll have it delivered to your doorstep.
Own Your Wine
You’ll have complete ownership of your wine.
From Chianti Classico to Barbaresco, Italian red wines are a wine lover’s delight - but the sheer variety of these wines makes it an overwhelming experience if you were to navigate through on your own.
Your best option is to use a trusted wine investment firm like Vinovest to authenticate, buy, store, and even sell your Italian red wines.
So, sign up on Vinovest now, and start your wine investment journey today!