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Essential Winemakers of Italy ©Opening a BottleWhat makes an Italian wine so special? From the high-altitude slopes of Etna to the plains of Emilia-Romagna, we often think of those wild Italian grapes that are hardly 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 Valtellina, or a sumptuous white wine whose roasted-almond note gives it away as Verdicchio from Le Marche. The most essential winemakers of Italy know how to shepherd these grapes from vine to glass in their purest form, and the most consistently thrilling producers are listed here.

For now, the playing field is too level to add anyone of note from Abruzzo, Emilia-Romagna, Umbria or Puglia — at least from what I’ve encountered. Left off the list on purpose: Super Tuscan and Bordeaux-variety focused producers. I’ve yet to encounter one that says something that hasn’t been said before. And lastly, as a Nebbiolo obsessive, my list skews toward producers of Italy’s most captivating red grape. Each representative belongs on this list for what they bring to the table with this diverse, terroir-expressive grape. I make no apologies for the lists’ Nebbiolo lean.

The bottom line: if you see any of these producers 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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