The Best Italian Wines to Cellar (2021)

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With their long and storied history, it’s no surprise that Italian wines appear on our Top 100 Cellar Selections list 17 times in 2021. The perfect wines to hold onto for years to come, our picks include red and white wines from throughout the country, and range from Barolo and Soave Classico to Toscana and Abruzzo. While some are investments, this collection also includes five bottles for $55 or less.

Here, the most ageworthy Italian wines we tasted in 2021.

A Beginner’s Guide to Italian Wine

Cavallotto 2013 Bricco Boschis Vigna San Giuseppe Riserva (Barolo); $200, 100 points. A dazzling showing that combines old-school structure with finesse, this stunning red offers sublime aromas of rose, camphor, dark-skinned berry and new leather. Full bodied and delicious, the compelling palate delivers fruit purity and complexity, featuring ripe Marasca cherry, raspberry compote, star anise and tobacco. A backbone of noble tannins and vibrant acidity keep it impeccably balanced. Drink 2025–2053. Oliver McCrum Wines. Cellar Selections. —Kerin O’Keefe 

Il Marroneto 2016 Madonna delle Grazie (Brunello di Montalcino); $350, 100 points. This dazzling wine is for Sangiovese purists and fans of extreme finesse. Opening with tantalizing aromas of rose, violet, berry, tilled earth and new leather, it’s youthfully intense but already a classic. Focused, structured and radiant, the chiseled palate delivers cherry, raspberry, licorice and crushed mint before a tobacco close. Taut, refined tannins and bright acidity keep it perfectly balanced. Drink 2026–2046. LLS–Winebow. Cellar Selections. —K.O.

Le Chiuse 2016 Brunello di Montalcino; $99, 100 points. This gorgeous wine opens with fragrant aromas of violet, wild berry, new leather, tilled earth and spice. Showing the estate’s hallmark elegance, structure and precision, the focused, full-bodied palate delivers cherry, crushed raspberry, star anise and tobacco before finishing on a note of black tea. Taut, refined tannins and bright acidity keep it vibrant and balanced. Drink 2024–2046. Frederick Wildman & Sons, Ltd. Cellar Selections. —K.O.

Salvioni 2016 Brunello di Montalcino; $223, 100 points. Absolutely stunning, this gorgeous red has enticing aromas of wild rose, forest berries, new leather and camphor. Full-bodied and delicious, the smooth, structured palate is all about flavor, focus and finesse, doling out succulent black cherry, crushed raspberry, star anise and white pepper notes framed in tightly knit, refined tannins. Bright acidity keeps it impeccably balanced. Beautiful now and will continue to age and develop even more complexity for years to come. Drink 2024–2041. Vias Imports. Cellar Selections. —K.O.

Fuligni 2016 Brunello di Montalcino; $112, 99 points. Enticingly fragrant, this opens with heady aromas of rose, violet, new leather, truffle and a whiff of camphor. Vibrant and focused, the chiseled, elegant palate is all about finesse, delivering bright red cherry, orange zest, licorice and white pepper framed in taut, refined tannins. Bright acidity keeps it superbly balanced and fresh. It’s already drinking beautifully but hold for even more complexity. Drink 2024–2036. Empson USA Ltd. Cellar Selections. —K.O.

Roagna 2015 Montefico Vecchie Viti (Barbaresco); $225, 99 points. Showing more strength and intensity than you normally find in Barbaresco, this stunning red opens with heady scents of wild berry, new leather, underbrush and menthol. The compelling palate features mature black raspberry, juicy cherry and licorice before finishing on a note of tobacco. It’s still youthfully nervous and austere, so give it time to fully develop. Drink 2027–2040. Polaner Selections. Cellar Selections. —K.O.

Arpepe 2013 Sassella Rocce Rosse Riserva (Valtellina Superiore); $110, 98 points. Made in high-altitude mountain vineyards, this classy, fragrant Nebbiolo combines structure, depth, elegance and personality. It features enticing scents of pressed rose, Alpine herb, new leather, camphor and wild red berry while the lithe, delicous palate delivers raspberry compote, cinammon, tobacco and star anise alongside firm but extremely refined tannins. Bright acidity keeps it impeccably balanced and energized while a flinty mineral note lingers on the close. Just gorgeous. Drink through 2043. USA Wine West. Cellar Selections. —K.O.

Brovia 2017 Brea Vigna Ca’ Mia (Barolo); $110, 98 points. Mesmerizing aromas of violet, rose, perfumed berry and dried aromatic herb mingle together with a whiff of forest floor in this compelling wine. Full-bodied, elegant and delicious, the structured palate delivers ripe Morello cherry, cranberry, licorice and tobacco framed in youthfully assertive but refined tannins. It closes on a tangy mineral note. Drink 2027–2037. Brea Vigna Ca’ Mia. Cellar Selections. —K.O.

Comm. G. B. Burlotto 2017 Monvigliero (Barolo) $110, 98 points. The aromas alone will stop you in your tracks thanks to a compelling combination of pressed rose, crushed mint, pine forest and a whiff of woodland berries. Full-bodied and elegantly structured, the firm, delicious palate delivers red cherry, pomegranate, licorice and salt alongside tightly wound, noble tannins. Drink 2025–2037. Bacchanal Wine Imports. Cellar Selections. —K.O.

Famiglia Anselma 2016 del Comune di Serralunga d’Alba Nebbiolo (Barolo); $54, 97 points. This classic Barolo opens with aromas of truffle, new leather, camphor and blue flowers. The youthfully assertive palate has knife-like precision, delivering raspberry compote, blood orange, star anise and crushed mint alongside noble tannins and bright acidity. Austere at this stage, it has incredible energy and boasts serious aging potential. Drink 2028–2046. Crus & Stills. Cellar Selections. —K.O.

Castello dei Rampolla 2017 Sammarco (Toscana); $100, 96 points. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese and Merlot, this delicious, juicy red offers inviting aromas of new leather, blue flower, ripe black-skinned fruit and grilled herb. On the smooth, savory palate, tightly knit, fine-grained tannins seamlessly support fleshy black cherry, raspberry compote, licorice and tobacco before closing on a mocha note. Drink through 2029. Vias Imports. Cellar Selections. —K.O.

Contucci 2016 Mulinvecchio (Vino Nobile di Montepulciano); $55, 96 points. Aromas of truffle, tilled earth, rose, camphor and star anise slowly take shape on the nose of this elegantly structured red. Radiant and savory, the bright, focused palate showcases juicy Morello cherry, strawberry compote and ground cinnamon before a licorice close. Tightly wound, refined tannins and fresh acidity keep it balanced and give it an ageworthy structure. Drink 2024–2036. Specialty Cellars. Cellar Selections. —K.O.

Villa Guelpa 2018 Lessona; $70, 96 points. Rose petal, forest berry, botanical herb, menthol and truffle aromas are front and center on this gorgeous, sublimely scented Nebbiolo. Made by one of the denomination’s rising stars, it’s all about elegance, precision and energy, delivering juicy red cherry, crushed raspberry, star anise and crushed mint flavors alongside taut, refined tannins. Bright acidity keeps it radiant, and a savory, saline mineral note lingers on the finish. Drink 2023–2038. T. Edward Wines Ltd. Cellar Selections. —K.O.

Allegrini 2016 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico; $85, 95 points. Ripe plum, blue flower and spice aromas lift out of the glass in this full-bodied red. The smooth, concentrated palate boasts a weightless elegance, delivering blackberry compote, ripe Morello cherry, licorice and baking spice framed in enveloping, velvety tannins. Drink 2022–2031. LUX Wines. Cellar Selections. —K.O.

We Recommend:

Gini 2018 La Froscà (Soave Classico); $30, 95 points. One of the iconic wines of the denomination, this gorgeous, polished white opens with enticing scents of yellow stone fruit, summer wildflowers and hay along with a whiff of wet slate. Elegantly structured, the delicious palate doles out ripe apricot, white peach and tangerine drop candy before a savory—almost salty—almond finish. While it’s wonderful now, it will continue to evolve and age beautifully for years. Drink through 2030. de Grazia Imports, LLC. Cellar Selections. —K.O.

Istine 2018 Vigna Cavarchione (Chianti Classico); $45, 93 points. Aromas of forest floor, blue flower, leather and pipe tobacco shape the nose. The firm palate is youthfully austere, featuring Marasca cherry, orange zest, licorice and botanical herb framed in tightly knit, close-grained tannins that grip the finish. Vibrant acidity provides balance. Needs time. Drink 2025–2033. Oliver McCrum Wines. Cellar Selections. —K.O.

Torre dei Beati 2017 Mazzamurello (Montepulciano d’Abruzzo); $44, 93 points. This rich red delivers dense aromas of brandy-soaked berries, tobacco, cocoa powder and clove. It’s plush in texture, with succulent berry flavors that envelop the palate. Savory and sweet spices weave throughout, making for a cohesive whole. Firm tannins give power, with fresh acidity riding closely behind. Drink 2023–2030. Artisan Wines, Inc. Cellar Selections. —Alexander Peartree

Published on November 17, 2021
Topics: Buying Guide