50 Best Italian Wines (?)

It would be pleonastic for me to address the myriad reasons why “top” lists — 10, 50, 100, the number doesn’t matter — are inherently useless in any putatively empirical assessment of wine.

Such indices, even when presented as genuine and well intentioned, serve only the purposes of marketers, advertisers, sellers of advertising space, and those whose lives are driven by a desire to maximize consumer goods.

And just like a schoolchild who aimlessly believes that highlighting a passage in Manzoni’s The Betrothed with a yellow pen will aid her/him in a mnemonic quest, authors of such lists inadvertently delete scores of wines from their ledgers the way said child quickly forgets the unhighlighted passages — not seeing the forest for the trees.

Today the world of Italian wine is reeling from the publication of an Italian-grown “Best Italian Wine Awards,” presented yesterday in Milan by the organizers (click here for a blog post depicting the scene).

The list, which can be viewed here, surprised many Italian observers of the Italian wine industry and I believe it may surprise you as well.

Among the Italian wine bloggers I follow, no one protested Valentini and G. Mascarello in pole position.

But some were puzzled by some glaring omissions, like top Italian wine blogger Franco Ziliani who noted the absence of any of Angelo Gaja’s wines. Now, if you follow Franco’s excellent blog, you know that he’s no fan of Angelo Gaja’s wines. But as he points out (rightly), this could only be considered an “eccentric” oversight.

And beyond Gaja, there are many others missing and many bizarre entries.

With academic interest and for the record, I point you to the list here.

Otherwise devoid of cultural, societal, intellectual, or epistemological value, the list does represent a cross-section of marketing forces in Italy today (as do the “prize” selections).

7 Responses to 50 Best Italian Wines (?)

  1. Alfonso Cevola says:

    anything “Dr. Wine” is affiliated with is suspect. ’nuff said

  2. Giorgos Hadjistylianou says:

    Jeremy,

    Great post……. It’s the biggest Italian joke…… or the biggest Italian wine scandal, sorry I take that back the 2nd, Brunello was the biggest scandal……..

    This is good for as you mentioned marketers who would sell this to consumer who love and appreciate the glory and don’t really care for the juice, a.k.a. “price wines”.

    Mr Ziliani’s comment is so accurate regarding Gaja, but then again who can if Mr Ziliani can’t…..

    How can be possible that you can only be able to select 50 or 100 “best” Italian wines from a country with so much diversity, possibly more than any other country on the planet.

  3. Jack Everitt says:

    I guess you had to speak Italian, too; no Alto Adige wines. I like the Friuli choices.

  4. Jeremy,
    I am rally happy about Borgo del Tiglio that on Italian guides rarely gets the rigth attention, also Zidarich and Vodopivec are a nice fit to represent orange wines without being too expensive.
    Un abbraccio!
    Giampaolo

  5. Wine Lady says:

    I agree with “top” lists not being useful and more for marketers and advertisers. It is very subjective, the tasting and like of wine!

  6. Ed McCarthy says:

    I just got around to looking at the “Top 50 Italian Wines” list. It’s not a bad list, but, as you say, some obvious omissions. Gaja’s wines are controversial, but he belongs there. I would also add Giuseppe Rinaldi’s and Bartolo Mascarello’s Barolos, Benanti’s Pietramarina Carricante, Tiefenbrunner’s Feldmarschall Muller-Thurgau, Abbazia di Novicella’s Kerner Praepositus, Silvio Jermann’s Vintage Tunina, Gini’s and Pieropan’s Soaves (not enough white wines!), Isole e Olena’s Cepparello, Marcarini’s Dolcetto Boschis di Berri, Vietti’s Barbera d’Asti La Crena. And kick off Dal Forno’s oak-driven Amarone. Glad to see Valentini’s Trebbiano and G. Mascarello’s Monprivato on top of the list. They are winners, for sure. As is Giacomo Conterno’s Monfortino.

  7. Ed McCarthy says:

    Correction on my previous post; I see that Giuseppe Rinaldi did make the list (rightly so). But there are at least 10 wines that are listed which I think clearly don’t belong. I guess it all depends on who the judges are.

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