Wondering what the best wines of 2020 were? Our sales figures have the answer. We’ve crunched the numbers between January 1st and December 31st to find out which of our bottles you couldn’t get enough of last year. Surprisingly, the top ten was made entirely of reds. In fact, our number 1 red sold more than twice as much as our best-selling white. Three bottles of classic Barolo made it onto the list, alongside some slightly more experimental wines – including one inspired by the vins de garage movement of Bordeaux’s Right Bank.
So without further ado, here are the top ten Italian wines of 2020, as chosen by Independent Wine customers.
Crafted by fourth generation award-winning winemakers, it’s not surprising to see Francone Barolo in the top ten. This particular bottle is crafted from grapes grown in two cru vineyards, La Morra and Monforte, which bring different characteristics to the blend. This deep garnet wine is delightfully flavoursome, with notes of sweet cinnamon, cloves, chocolate, leather and dark berries.
Officially listed as one of the top 100 Italian wines, I Garagisti di Sorgono is as captivating as it is unique. Only 2,300 bottles of this experimental wine were made. It was inspired by the French vins de garage movement of the 80’s, which cast the strict appellation rules of Saint-Émilion aside to create exciting, if unorthodox wines. Winemaker Pietro Uras also ignored the local rules to create this incredibly ripe and full bodied red wine from Sardinia’s signature Cannonau grape.
This powerful wine from the Montalcino region was named a “new wine to watch out for” by expert James Suckling. It’s a blend of Merlot, aged in small French oak barriques, and Sangiovese matured in large Slavonian oak barrels. Pronounced flavours of red cherry, red plum, cedar, fig, prune and chocolate lead into its long and enveloping finish.
A classic example of Primitivo from the Salento IGT region, this Sakura double gold medal winner is a wonderful introduction to Italian Zinfandel. It is incredibly rich with dominant flavours of ripe black fruits. Although it’s fermented in stainless steel, it also spends three months in French oak barrels to add notes of vanilla, spice and smoke.
This Nero d’Avola from the hills of Palermo impressed fans of natural wine during 2020. It’s unfiltered, unclarified and unstabilised so offers a raw drinking experience. It bursts with flavours of kirsch and stewed strawberry, and when given time to breathe it deepens with notes of Cuban cigar and dark chocolate.
Kicking off the top five is this platinum medal-winning blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Despite seven years of aging behind it, this wine is still bright and fresh. Expect flavours of kirsch, rosemary, blueberry muffin and just a hint of salinity. We became very interested in this wine when we learned that the 2012 vintage was served on Pope Francis’ private flight. Apparently His Holiness drank it on an Apostolic visit to Mozambique.
The second Barolo on our best seller list, and the first one in the top five, this delicious wine is made by the famous Gussalli Beretta family. 2015 was one of the decade’s best years for Barolo, and this particular example took home the Mundus Vini Gold medal. It could happily age for another 20 years, but if you drink it now you can expect flavours of black cherry, raisins, spices and leather.
Our best selling Barolo of 2020 was another blockbuster from the renowned 2015 vintage. The grapes are grown on 50 year old vines in La Morra cru. It really expresses the elegance and power that quality Barolo is famous for. Notes of wild rose, red cherry, cinnamon and dark chocolate are just a few of the flavours you’ll pick up from this complex wine.
This small-batch wine comes from the heart of the Chianti Classico region, in a vineyard which sits 400 metres above sea level. The Beretta family use hand-harvested grapes to make the wine, which is aged in large Slavonian oak barrels. This adds subtle hints of vanilla, spice and smoke without overpowering the sweet black plum and violet notes of the Sangiovese.
It’s a tie! We sold equal amounts of these two outstanding wines in 2020. The first, Francone Barbaresco DOCG Gallina, is a gold medal winning UK-exclusive wine. It’s made by third generation winemaker, Fabrizio Francone, using grapes grown on the Gallina hill: one of the best crus in the Neive area. It’s also produced in accordance with the “Green Experience”, taking organic laws one step further.
The top spot is shared with Feudi di Guagnano’s Le Camarde, a captivating blend of Negroamaro and Primitivo from Salento IGT. The grapes are grown on old vines, ranging from 45 to 50 years old, and are hand harvested before aging in French oak. This ripe and rich wine has flavours of blackberry, chocolate and juniper. We can see why it is so popular!
What will the best wines of 2021 be?
We can’t wait to see what 2021 has in store – and which wines you’ll be choosing to drink. The new year means new opportunities, and if your resolution is to try more whites in 2021 then look out for our upcoming blog post about the best-selling white wines. Although they weren’t as popular as our reds, we still think they deserve a space in your collection.