The Best Italian Red Wines of 2020

sunset over Italian vineyard
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Italy is romanticized for many reasons, not least of which for its delicious wines. The combination of ideal growing conditions, exceptional quality and great value make Italy a favorite region for procuring wine.

There are a variety of styles and too many grapes to keep track of, but whether you are investing in your cellar or seeking out something to pair with pizza, there is something for every palate and budget.

A Beginner’s Guide to Italian Wine

Brovia 2016 Garblèt Suè (Barolo); $92, 99 points. Wild berry, iris, menthol, star anise and new leather aromas follow over to the precise, full-bodied palate along with juicy cherry, raspberry compote and tobacco. Boasting elegance and structure in equal measure, it has taut, refined tannins and fresh acidity that will give this decades of drinking pleasure. Drink 2026–2056. Rosenthal Wine Merchant. —Kerin O’Keefe

Franchetti–Passopisciaro 2018 Contrada R Nerello Mascalese (Terre Siciliane); $90, 98 points. Fragrant and loaded with finesse, this gorgeous red stuns with captivating scents of pressed rose, violet, red berry, white pepper as well as whiffs of smoke and balsamic notes. Boasting extreme elegance and intensity, the smooth, delicious palate delivers strawberry jelly, raspberry compote, cinnamon and flinty mineral framed in smooth, silky tannins. Made from some of the highest vineyards on Mount Etna and 100-year-old vines, it’s endowed with bright acidity that keeps it superbly balanced. Drink through 2030. T. Edward Wines Ltd. Editors’ Choice. —K.O.

Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona 2015 Brunello di Montalcino; $50, 97 points. Enticing aromas of ripe wild berry, iris, camphor and sunbaked soil take shape in the glass. Full in feel and enveloping, the smooth, delicious palate doles out juicy Marasca cherry, raspberry jam, licorice and tobacco while firm, velvety tannins provide support. It boasts concentration and structure but also balance, thanks to the fruit richness and freshness. Drink 2023–2030. Indigenous Selections. Editors’ Choice. —K.O.

Castello di Neive 2017 Albesani Santo Stefano (Barbaresco); $40, 96 points. Aromas of ripe black-skinned fruit, fragrant blue flowers, new leather and a whiff of menthol form the alluring nose. Full in feel and savory, the enveloping palate doles out fleshy Marasca cherry, raspberry compote, crushed mint and tobacco set against firm, fine-grained tannins. Drink 2023–2029. LLS–Winebow. Editors’ Choice. —K.O.

Dei 2016 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano; $28, 95 points. Fragrant blue flower, crushed aromatic herb and wild berry aromas form the nose of this smooth, full-bodied red. A blend of 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo Nero, it’s savory and loaded with finesse, delivering juicy black cherry, ripe blackberry, truffle and cocoa before a star anise finish. Supple tannins and bright acidity provide seamless support and balance. Drink 2021–2031. Editors’ Choice. —K.O.

Fontodi 2017 Chianti Classico; $39, 95 points. Fragrant and delicious, this opens with aromas of ripe black-skinned fruit, blue flower, leather, underbrush and a whiff of French oak. The full-bodied, enveloping palate delivers baked plum, Marasca cherry, licorice and a note of espresso framed in fine-grained enveloping tannins that give it a smooth texture and a weightless finesse. Vinifera Imports. —K.O.

Michele Chiarlo 2017 Cipressi (Nizza); $30, 94 points. Vinous aromas of just-pressed grapes, fragrant blue flower and mature blueberry form the inviting nose along with whiffs of graphite and underbrush. Chewy and delicious, the smooth, concentrated palate doles out succulent black cherry, crushed blackberry, star anise and a hint of game alongside velvety tannins. Drink through 2025. Kobrand. Editors’ Choice. —K.O.

We Recommend:

Illuminati 2017 Ilico Riserva (Montepulciano d’Abruzzo); $24, 91 points. A dense core of red-cherry coulis is lifted up by bright mentholated herbs and tobacco on the nose of this riserva. Medium in weight, there’s a tangy cherry tone to the palate, with firm, finely knit tannins and pulsing acidity providing the frame. More herbs and a slight granite twang linger on the finish. Montcalm Wine Importers. Editors’ Choice. —Alexander Peartree

Produttori di Manduria 2017 Lirica (Primitivo di Manduria); $16, 91 points. Cohesive aromas of tilled earth, tobacco and peppery spice are well-integrated into a rich cherry jam core on the nose. This is full, rounded and juicy in feel, showing luscious fruit jam flavors that don’t falter or loose definition, thanks to lifted acidity and a firm framing of polished tannins. Tobacco, earth and violet tones bring added depth, with a cherry skin tone lingering on the close. Massanois Imports. Editors’ Choice. —A.P.

Published on December 18, 2020
Topics: Wine and Ratings