Given the reputation of the amazing wines to emerge from Italy, it should come as no surprise that there are many celebrities out there who enjoy an odd bottle or three from some of the greatest producers that the country has to offer.
Hollywood stars like Leonardo DiCaprio have long espoused their love of wine, but there are few who invest in wine to quite the same level as megastar Johnny Depp. The star of films including Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Edward Scissorhands, recent reports have told us that Mr. Depp currently spends an average of $30,000 per month on wine, favouring those from the Bordeaux region of France and with a particular taste for red wines.
Of course, while such expensive tastes mean that Depp gets his hand on some of the more choice vintages from those regions, we do wonder if maybe he would consider expanding his purchases a little and exploring the world of Italian wine to the same extent that he has demonstrated his passion for French. With that idea in mind, we have created a short list of great wines that we believe everybody from Johnny Depp through to you at home will enjoy.
We took a fairly in-depth look at Barolo last week and discovered a lot more about the wine that is often referred to as the King of Wines. A true Italian classic that has a reputation that stretches back further than most, Barolo has been the source of contention between traditionalists and innovators on a number of occasions, with the infamous Barolo Wars perhaps being the most famous issue that the march of progress has caused.
Regardless, it has always maintained a reputation as one of the best Italian wines available and there are many amazing examples of Barolo out there. Besides the quality of the wine, its deep history is also more than worth exploring, making it a great choice for the true enthusiasts out there.
Of all of the Italian red wines out there, we have a little bit of a soft spot for Amarone, which we believe bears qualities that are represented by few other wines in the entire world. This beautifully rich, dry red offers a level of smoothness and taste that will truly knock your socks off and the efforts of its producers, who have to battle against the weather to ensure the fairly fragile grapes used in its production are protected, should be commended.
A typical bottle of Amarone will feature a ripe taste with notes of raisins and very little in the way of acids. It tends to be released approximately five years after the grape vintage, though this is not a legal requirement, so those who pick one up early may consider ageing it for a little while in a wine cellar. Another key characteristic of the wine is its high alcohol content, with many Amarones exceeding the 15 percent mark.
What better wine for a Hollywood star than one that achieved infamy as a result of a film line, at least among people who had not previously dedicated much of their time to the industry. Chianti is another of the most storied wines in Italian history, with families like the Antinoris having invested great amounts of time and effort into ensuring the wine achieved the legendary status that it now enjoys.
Much like Barolo, Chianti has caused a great deal of consternation over the years, with traditionalists and innovators doing battle over which version of the wine is best. This is perhaps best represented by the ‘Super Tuscan’ era, during which many producers started creating fruitier versions of Chianti, such as Tignanello, that are more conducive to the tastes of international clients. As such, if you are looking for a Chianti, it is perhaps best to pay attention to the labelling, as the Chianti Classico appellation will have quite a few differences to wines produced by those who bring newer techniques to the fold.
Those who are familiar with Barolo will also likely have given Barbaresco a shot at some point in their lives, as the wines do share a lot of similarities, coming right down to the grapes that are used in their production. However, there are a number of key differences that allow Barbaresco to stand on its own two feet as one of the best Italian red wines available.
For one, it has a slightly lower alcohol volume in general, with most coming in at about 13.5 percent, plus it is aged for substantially less time, with two years, of which one year should be spent in oak, being the generally accepted minimum.
However, collectors can age the wine for at least another five years before consuming it, with many actually recommending this process. I fact, some Barbaresco wines can be aged beyond this five year period, with some being aged for as long as two decades before they are consumed, though it is worth conducting research to confirm that this is actually the case with your vintage before attempting it.
Perhaps one of the most accessible examples of Italian wine on this list, Lambrusco is widely available and ideal for those looking for a wine that is easy to consume and refreshing. This fizzy red offers something a little different to the more complex red wines we examined earlier and is often the choice for those who want to enjoy something a little lighter and softer, but still want some of the unique flavours that come from a red wine.
Ideal for a warm summer’s day, these wines complement their fizziness with a slight bitterness that is appealing to many.
The Final Word
Whatever the case may be, there are plenty of Italian red wines out there for you to experiment with. We are sure Mr. Depp and many others have already sampled any of the delights on this list, but if you have yet to give them a try we truly do recommend each and every one.