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Essential Winemakers of Italy ©Opening a BottleWhat makes an Italian wine so special? From Friuli-Venezia Giulia to Sicily, Piedmont to Puglia, it often comes down to those wild Italian grapes that aren’t grown anywhere else. Italy’s best wines are, more often than not, the result of an indigenous grape expressing the character of a certain place. I think of Nebbiolo showing off its delicate side in Barbaresco, or a sumptuous white wine whose roasted-almond note gives it away as Verdicchio from Castelli di Jesi. The most essential winemakers of Italy know how to shepherd these grapes from vine to glass in their purest form, and the most consistent ones are listed here.

By no means is this list exhaustive, but my hope is that someday soon it will be. For example, I’m still on the hunt for qualifying winemakers from Campania, Etna, Abruzzo, Franciacorta and Montalcino. Despite many highlights, I haven’t found the across-the-board consistency — mixed with overall value — yet to list one (though I’m close on a few). In some cases, the playing field is too level to decipher.

The bottom line: The following producers exemplify what makes Italy such a compelling place for wine. If you see them in your local wine shop, pick up a bottle. And if you love it, share it on Instagram and tag me @openingabottle.

See also the Essential Winemakers of France.


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