The year ahead: understanding 2022’s Italian wine releases


Photography: Jason Lowe

There are many exciting Italian releases in our fine wine calendar. Barbara Drew MW – our Content and Education Manager – provides an overview of the different styles, regions and vintages to look out for.  

What differentiates Italian fine wine releases from other regions? In somewhere like Bordeaux, producers release their new vintage for sale at once – way before the wine is ready to be drunk or bottled. However, in Italy, the wines released are only bottled and sold when they’re permitted to do so. 

Due to these myriad rules and regulations, this does mean that our Italy offer is less homogenous than our offers from, say, Bordeaux or Burgundy. While at first glance this can seem devilishly confusing, I believe Italy provides a much more fun way to buy fine wine.  

Firstly, you have a range of vintages available to discover at any one time. You could try a 2016 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva alongside a ’17 Brunello di Montalcino or a ’18 Bolgheri. In the North, you can try a ’17 Barolo Riserva, a ’18 Barolo, a ’19 Barbaresco all in the same year. Or, if you’re lucky enough, perhaps a ’20 Langhe Nebbiolo. 

The different vintages released allows you to compare different expressions of the same grape from a similar area. This is something rarely afforded to us in Burgundy, a region with which Barolo is often compared.  

It’s an excellent way to understand and explore the range of one producer, as well as providing you with a variety of wines to add to your collection. Some to be drunk as soon as next year – others, 15 years from now. 

At Berry Bros. & Rudd, our Italian wine releases focus on two key regions: Piedmont and Tuscany. Here are all the vintages that you can look forward to discovering this year. 



Grape: 100% Nebbiolo 

Vintage being released: 2018 

Sourced from 11 villages around Barolo, this is arguably the finest expression of Nebbiolo. It legally needs to be aged for three years before release – of which 18 months must be in barrel. As these grapes weren’t harvested or made into wine until the very end of the year, producers are offering their ’18 wines for release now, in early ’22. 

These wines have high levels of tannins, so despite their three years in the producers’ cellar, these are wines for long-term ageing. Ideally, they should be held in your cellar for another decade or so before drinking.  


Grape: 100% Nebbiolo 

Vintage being released: 2019 

Barbaresco is traditionally viewed as a softer, more approachable expression of Nebbiolo. It has a shorter minimum ageing period than Barolo of just over two years, with a minimum nine months in barrel. This means that we will be releasing the ’19 Barbarescos for sale in May. 

Many Barbaresco wines are indeed lighter than some Barolos: the different soils and slightly lower altitude making for subtly different wines. However, Barbaresco wines still have a huge level of tannin, and some may need as much time as a Barolo to be enjoyable. These are wines to keep in your cellar for at least seven years before serving with rich meat or pasta dishes.  

Langhe Nebbiolo 

Grape: 100% Nebbiolo 

Vintage being released: 2020 

Permitted to come from a wider area around the villages of Barolo and Barbaresco, Langhe Nebbiolo can also be made from “declassified” Barolo grapes. For example, a producer may use fruit from very young vines in a Barolo vineyard in their Langhe Nebbiolo. As a result, these can offer excellent value from talented producers. 

Stylistically they tend to be lighter – both in terms of tannins and alcohol – and are designed to be drunk younger than the Barolo or Barbaresco wines. These can be drunk on release, or over five to seven years while you wait for your Barolo to mature.  


Brunello di Montalcino 

Grape: 100% Sangiovese (here, known as “Brunello”) 

Vintage being released: 2017 

Brunello di Montalcion has some of the longest ageing requirements of any wine in the world – it needs to be aged for a minimum of four years. This means that the ’17 vintage of Brunello di Montalcino is only just ready to be released. Made from a particular clone of Sangiovese that gives intense tannins, these wines are complex, savoury and designed to be aged for a further five to eight years. 

This region also permits Riserva wines to be made. These must be aged for five years before release, lending them even greater complexity. Only the very best wines will be made into Riservas; thus, they arguably represent the finest expression of this wine. The ’16 Riservas will be released this year.  

Rosso di Montalcino 

Grape: 100% Sangiovese 

Vintage being released: 2019, 2020 

Rosso di Montalcino is made from the same winegrowing area as Brunello di Montalcino. Like Langhe Nebbiolo, some producers “declassify” grapes that they could have used in their Brunello di Montalcino to make Rosso. There is no legal requirement to age the wine in barrel, but it can only be released once it is one year old. 

As you’d expect, Rosso di Montalcino is much fruitier than Brunello di Montalcino, without the dense tannins or savoury notes from ageing. This means it can be drunk almost immediately. Some producers prefer to hold their wine for just a little longer to add a touch more complexity; releasing it when it is two years old. 


Grape: A blend based around Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot with up to 50% Sangiovese and/or Syrah permitted 

Vintage being released: 2018 

These wines are typically described as Bordeaux blends – focusing on Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Cabernet Franc, Merlot and sometimes Sangiovese or Syrah. Bolgheri Superiore must be aged for a minimum of two years, with at least one year in barrels. 

Meanwhile, the Bolgheri Rosso wines are not required to undergo any maturation and are released when one year old. Both wines have pronounced aromas of black fruit and firm tannins from the Cabernet grapes. 

As with Bordeaux wines, the question of when to drink depends on how you like your wines – earlier if you prefer them fruitier, later if you prefer a softer, more savoury wine. Generally, Bolgheri Superiore can be enjoyed from five years after release, but some will hold for up to 15 years. 

Browse our complete collection of Italian wine here.