Italian wines can offer an element of surprise for a wine lover who might be accustomed to receiving another California Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon and you’ve given them something new and memorable to try.
Gifting a bottle of Italian wine is a great idea, as everybody is happy to have a bottle of Italian wine on hand to take to their favorite Italian restaurant or to open for that special home cooked Italian supper.
Italian wines come in broad range of styles and price ranges, from affordable everyday drinkers to some of the most revered wines in the world. So there’s something to be found for every budget and gift level.
I know the Italian wine section can be a bit daunting, so to make it easier I’m making recommendations of wines I feel are sure to impress at three budget levels.
Gifts $25 and under
These wines make excellent gifts for colleagues, friends, neighbors, teachers, hostess gifts and service workers.
2016 Pico Maccario ‘Lavignone’ Barbera d’Asti , Piedmont
Barbera is one of Italy’s greatest food wines and always a crowd pleaser. Pico Maccario’s Barbera really over-delivers at this price with its ripe black and red berry fruits and smooth tannins. This is a delightfully fresh wine with hints of earth and spice balancing the ripe fruit.
$14.99 per bottle
2016 Ca'Viola ‘Vilot’ Dolcetto D'Alba, Piedmont
It’s hard to find anybody who doesn’t like Dolcetto from Piedmont. Dolcetto is one of the friendliest of Italian reds with its generous fruit and soft tannins and pairs well with almost any meal, not just Italian. Ca’Viola’s Dolcetto is a recent addition to the store and an amazing value at this price. It’s rich with dark berry fruits but well balanced, smooth and purely enjoyable.
$16.99 per bottle
2017 Cantina Terlano Pinot Grigio , Südtirol-Alto Adige
Each year Cantina Terlano’s Pinot Grigio is a store favorite with its elegance, weight and generous fruit taking Pinot Grigio to new levels while maintaining a zippy freshness that keeps you coming back for another sip. You won’t be disappointed with this wine. A great buy! Cantina Terlano is one of the oldest cooperative of farmers in Südtirol-Alto Adige, founded in 1893 and is recognized worldwide for producing exceptional wines.
$18.99 per bottle
2014 La Quercia Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Riserva, Abruzzo
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is always a crowd pleasing, juicy Italian red wine that goes great with a wide variety of foods but this is La Quercia’s Riserva Montepulciano which is aged longer and in oak barrels that really elevates this normally rustic wine. Their 2014 Riserva is dark, rich and smooth with ripe plum and blackberry fruits and notes of earth and spice. This is made for richer pastas and meats. An amazing value and 100% organic!
$18.99 per bottle
2017 Broglia ‘La Meirana’ Gavi, Piedmont
Gavi is a classic seafood white wine produced in southern Piedmont and made to be served in the seafood restaurants in Genoa. Broglia’s Gavi is a rich, elegant version of this seafood white, medium bodied and packed with ripe apple, pear and melon but still retaining its great freshness and minerality. This is a beautiful wine at this price and always a surprise hit with white wine lovers who are new to Italian whites.
$20.99 per bottle
2016 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico, Tuscany
A classic Italian wine made by a classic producer. Badia a Coltibuono is an historical 6th generation winery located in one of the best areas of Chianti for growing Sangiovese. The name translates to “The Abbey of Good Harvest” referring to the 2000 year old Abbey on the property. Their 2015 Chianti Classico is quintessential Chianti with vibrant ruby red cherry fruit, hints of vanilla, spice and some dusty tannins. The wine is supple and the finish is warm and persistent. 100% Certified Organic.
$20.99 per bottle
2015 Rocca di Frassinello ‘Le Sughere’, Maremma Toscana, Tuscany
A Super Tuscan at this price and of this pedigree is a steal. Rocca di Frassinello is a joint project of famed Chianti producer Castellare and famed Bordeaux producer Chateau Lafite Rothschild started in 2000 to take their winemaking expertise to the revered coastal Maremma region of Tuscany and produce exquisite “Super Tuscan” blends of Sangiovese and Bordeaux varietals that are highly expressive of the Tuscan terroir. Le Sughere is a gorgeous medium to full bodied blend of 50% Sangiovese, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Merlot. The aromatics of violets, herbs and bright cherry fruit jump out of the glass then the juicy red cherry and plum fruits dance on your palate with notes of mocha, licorice and spice. True class in a wine.
$23.99 per bottle
Gifts between $25 to $50
These are fantastic wines where you really want to impress but not break the bank. They make great gifts for siblings, in-laws, bosses and close friends.
2015 Dei Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Tuscany
Dei’s Vino Nobile is a store favorite year after year and always delivers an impressive Sangiovese wine at this price. 2015 was a fantastic vintage in Tuscany and Dei’s Vino Nobile really shows it. This is a bigger and richer wine compared to the previous vintages with the ripe red and black fruits really shining against the bold tannins. This is a truly enjoyable Tuscan classic!
$28.99 per bottle
2017 Benito Ferrara ‘Vigna Cicogna’ Greco di Tufo, Campania
Greco di Tufo is considered to be one of Southern Italy’s most noble white wines as the cool climate and volcanic soils produce medium bodied Greco wines with intense aromatics, bright acidity and zippy minerality. Benito Ferrara’s Greco di Tufo is often hailed as one of the best white wines in all of Italy. The nose is intense with white flowers and honeysuckle and the medium to full bodied wine is bold with citrus fruits, white peaches and a hint of green almond. Bright acidity and flinty minerality tame the bold fruit keeping it inviting and refreshing.
$28.99 per bottle
2016 Le Macchiole Bolgheri Rosso, Tuscany
Le Macchiole is a highly respected winemaker in the famed Bolgheri region best known for their acclaimed ‘Messorio’ wine. They also produce this affordable yet beautiful Bordeaux blend from their younger vines and its always a stunner year after year. This smooth yet complex wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. Le Macchiole is known for letting the fruit and terroir shine in their wines and this blend expresses that perfectly. It’s rich with dark berry fruits and classic Tuscan earth undertones. This is a truly satisfying wine and an amazing value.
$29.99 per bottle
2005 Balgera ‘Sassella’ Valtellina Superiore, Lombardy
Valtellina is one of the only wine regions outside of Piedmont that produces Nebbiolo wines. Located in the northern regions of Lombardy, producers grow the Nebbiolo grapes on the steep south facing slopes of the hills at the base of the Swiss Alps where they get maximum sun exposure. Nebbiolo wines from this northern region are brighter, more delicate and herbaceous than their cousins in southern Piedmont and Balgera ages their wines up to 10 years in large used barrels prior to release to soften the wine. An amazing buy at this price!
$35.99 per bottle
Azelia 2013 Barolo, Piedmont
Yes you can have great Barolo at this price! Azelia Barolo by Luigi Scavino is one of the best buys in the Italian section. This is a great introductory Barolo for anybody new to the noble wine but also a great find for fans of Barolo who want to enjoy it more often. Azelia’s entry level Barolo is approachable and packed with ripe red and black cherry fruit but still delivers the classic notes of spice and rose petals.
$41.99 per bottle
2014 Remo Farina Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, Veneto
I loved the balance of this classic Amarone by Farina. It offers all the richness and complexity of good Amarone without going over the top. This is an elegant and refined Amarone that is smooth and satisfying with plenty of dried red cherry fruit, baking spice and hints of mocha. This is an Amarone you can enjoy with dinner or with some gorgonzola dolce after dinner.
$46.99 per bottle
Gifts $50 and over
These are wines for those important people that you really want to impress and are wines any wine lover would be happy to have in their collection to open up for a special occasion.
2010 Cantine del Notaio ‘La Firma’ Aglianico del Vulture, Basilicata
Aglianico is one of Southern Italy’s most noble grapes and often called the Barolo of the south due to its powerful structure and ability to age and improve for years. Aglianico really shines when grown in volcanic, mineral rich soils and at higher elevations like on the slopes of the dormant Mt Vulture volcano in Basilicata where the cool night allow the grape to ripen slower. This unique terroir creates powerful and complex wines with intense floral aromas and bright acidity. La Firma is smooth, rich and generous like a great Amarone but lighter in weight and more herbaceous. It’s dense with dried fruit, plums and spice and the tannins are velvety given its age.
$49.99 per bottle
2013 Giacomo Grimaldi ‘Le Coste’ Barolo, Piedmont
Grimaldi’s Le Coste Barolo is deep and rich with black cherry fruit, cocoa and spice and the nose is seductive with aromas of sweet fruit and dried flowers. A touch of modern winemaking softened the powerful tannins on this big wine making it quite approachable for such a young Barolo. This is a show stopper! Le Coste is one of the most historic vineyards in the village of Barolo. Only 2400 bottles produced.
$67.99 per bottle
2013 Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino, Tuscany
Uccelliera is a very small producer in Montalcino but regarded as one of the best and is definitely a store favorite every year. Andrea Cortonesi, owner and winemaker, really excels at letting the Sangiovese fruit take center stage while still producing a powerful, elegant and complex wine. His Brunello wines are built to age but also drink well at a young age because of their expressiveness.
$71.99 per bottle
2009 Gravner Ribolla Gialla, Friuli
2009 Gravner Bianco Breg, Friuli
The stunning orange wines from Gravner have cult wine following and are some of the most beautiful yet unique orange wines in the world. Gravner ferments on the skins in amphora pots for many months before transferring to large used oak barrels for aging another 6+ years prior to releasing to the market. These intensely textured wines have multiples layers of flavors ranging from citrus and white flowers to tea leaves and mushrooms. Truly extraordinary and rare!
EACH $77.99 per bottle
2012 La Poderina ‘Poggio Abate’ Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, Tuscany
This is a powerful, yet surprisingly elegant and graceful Brunello Riserva coming from the warm 2012 vintage. Brunello Riserva wines are produced from the estate’s best vineyards and aged an additional year prior to releasing. Poggio Abate is medium to full bodied, well balanced, smooth and layered with flavors of sour cherry, cola, leather and forest herbs. It’s drinking well already but is structured to age for many years.
$84.99 per bottle
2014 E. Pira e Figli Chiara Boschis ‘Cannubi’ Barolo, Piedmont
Chiara Boschis has become one of the most respected producers in Barolo receiving critical acclaim year after year. She is known for producing Barolo wines with power but also elegance and approachability. Cannubi is arguably one the best “crus” in Barolo and Chiara’s Cannubi Barolo is always an exceptional wine. "The 2014 Barolo Cannubi from Chiara Boschis is soft, supple and surprisingly giving at this early stage. Exotic spice and citrus overtones add to wine's considerable allure. Succulent red cherry, cinnamon, orange peel and rose petal notes all lift from the glass in this gracious, sublime Barolo.” Antonio Galloni, Vinous Media
$107.99 per bottle