Italy’s 10 leading fine white wines

7. Marchesi Antinori, Castello della Sala “Cervaro della Sala”

AntinoriGrape variety: Chardonnay/Grechetto

Region: Umbria

Classification: Umbria IGT

Average price per bottle: £31

Hopping over to the western side of the Appennines now to the stables of the famous Antinori.

Without doubt better known for red Tuscan wines, the Antinori family purchased the achingly beautiful mediaeval Castello della Sala (pictured) in neighbouring Umbria in 1940 – though winemaking there did not really take off until 1979.

A number of wines are produced, largely white and including a pudding wine called Muffato della Sala which is often highly rated on WA, and a 100% Chardonnay, Bramito del Cervo.

However, it is the Cervaro della Sala, which rules the roost. The Chardonnay in the blend is macerated on its skins for four to six hours prior to undergoing alcoholic fermentation in French oak.

The wine is aged on its lees for a minimum of six months during which it goes through a complete malolactic fermentation. It is given a further 10 months of bottle age before being released.

Jancis Robinson MW noted that the 2007 (16.5 points) was, “not quite as like white Burgundy as it used to be!” but it is clearly the driving inspiration.

Doctor Wine, a.k.a Daniele Cernilli, notes a comparison vertical tasting of the Cervaro and Drouhin’s premier cru Clos du Mouche last year, which was organised by Piero Antinori and Frédéric Drouhin, in which the Italian wines more than held their own.

The first vintage was 1985. Grechetto makes up usually no more than 10% of the final blend and it plays a bigger role in the dessert wine.

Nonetheless, it is one of the chief grapes in the nearby white wine area of Orvieto, where it is sometimes known by that name also.

10 Responses to “Italy’s 10 leading fine white wines”

  1. Raffaele Santoro says:

    bla bla bla.

  2. Vino in Love says:

    That list seems a little bit odd to me. Don’t forget about Verdicchio (some of the highest rated Italian white wines are produced with Verdicchio) , Cortese (Cortese is the grape for the world-famous Gavi) and Falanghina.
    Timorasso and Buriano are not really that common..

  3. James says:

    Won’t get that 3 minutes back. What a terrible and uninformative piece.

  4. Mila Dorosh says:

    Gaja’s Cabernet is “Darmagi!” – Giovanni Gaja’s comment on planting the vineyards with cab.

  5. Riccardo Margheri says:

    Of course, I do not pretend to know everything, but tasting hundreds of different Italian vine varietes during my work for the wine guides I collaborate with, I have never tasted a “Buriano”. If here it says that it is one of the main Italian whites, I should know about that… Nor I find any info on such topic on my books about autoctone varieties, nor on the web… If it really exist, and it is not a mistake of the article (many of its choices could be discussed anyway, as it always happens, as the SB and not the Ribolla for Gravner, or the Nova Domus and not the PG selection Vorberg for Terlano), may I get further infos please?
    Kind regards
    Riccardo Margheri

    • Rupert Millar says:

      The list is an attempt to highlight at least some of Italy’s leading fine white wines. It may perhaps have made more sense to just pick out producers that are particularly focused on white wines – but the point is to show the most expensive, which would generally imply some sort of appreciation in price and interested following of some description. Where a particular producer makes other wines (such as Terlano and Gravner’s other wines as you picked out), I have tried to make reference to them.

      Buriano is not a major variety, many Italian varieties are in no way ‘major’, the list of Italian grapes in the intro was just to show that of all the merchants I talked to, the suggestions they gave to join this list (which were extensive) encompassed every conceivable variety, big and small, that Italy has.

      I agree that the list is not perfect and open to discussion. Indeed, I hope it does provoke discussion as Italy produces some excellent white wines and I think they need greater exposure and appreciation. As you can see from the list many are incredibly well priced with regards to their quality.


  6. Riccardo Margheri says:

    Looks like Buriano was an ancient name used around XVI-XVII century to indicate some Tuscanian white variety. I am not able to find my Francesco Redi’s “Bacco in Toscana” copy in this moment, where the term is mentioned. But trust me, it is not used nowadays…

  7. Riccardo Margheri says:

    Believe me or not, Roberto, I see Your post only now, after more than one year (I hadn’t realised I would not have received an automatic alert about answers to my post!!). And when I made the obvious researches on the web before replying to tDB, You hadn’t published yet Your article about the Michi wines on the AIS site. Nor I have had the occasion to taste the Buriano in some Montecarlo event (maybe because the production is tiny?). Said that, and with all the respect for the Michi work, listing Buriano between the 10 Italian leading whites continues to be a little bit too much :-), IMHO of course. And if this come from the importers’ opinion, as explained in the kind reply to my post (thanks for the interest), I of course appreciate their effort to explore something brand new, but even I recommend not to stop…
    @Rupert: any effort to make evident that Italy produces great, enjoyable whites is great, so thank You!! 🙂
    Kind regards ad cheers
    Riccardo Margheri

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