From the rolling fields of Tuscany to the patchwork vineyards of Piedmont, Italian fine wines are at the forefront of growth on the secondary market – in the first seven month of 2020, trade in Italian wines has risen by 70% in value on Liv-ex. 

“Just this morning, the value of Italian wine trade in 2020 surpassed the whole of 2019, and volume is soon to follow,” said Liv-ex on 25 August.

This “historic” growth has been led by increased demand for Giacomo Conterno’s 2013 Monfortino Barolo Riserva, followed by Tenuta San Guido’s Sassicaia 2017 from Bolgheri on the Tuscan coast. By volume, the most traded wine was Barbaresco 2016 – as Liv-ex notes, this was the first time that two Piedmont wines have held these top positions. 

Super Tuscans vs Piedmont wines 

In the last 10 years, compared to a compound annual growth rate of 9% for the entire wine market, Italian wines have enjoyed a 28.5% increase in value. 

Trade was dominated until this year by the lauded Super Tuscans from the Bolgheri and Toscana regions – and they’re still doing well. Within the Italy 100 index, these wines have risen 4.2% year-to-date and 8.8% over a one-year period. 

But Piedmont has benefitted from a run of strong vintages, culminating in the release of the much-anticipated Barolo 2016 wines this year – the third very good-to-great vintage in four years.

CEO of US wine merchant JJ Buckley, Shaun Bishop, told Decanter back in April, “As a whole, Italian wines stand out for their high quality and low prices – in fact, probably the best values in the world.” 

Miles Davis, head of professional portfolio management at the Wine Owners trading exchange, adds in his May 2020 market report that Piedmont and Tuscany were “proving popular amongst wine lovers who are accustomed to paying far more for their French equivalents.” 

The overall health of the Italian wine trade makes it impossible to pick between the Super Tuscans and Piedmonts – on the other hand, it is easy to say that any investment in wines from these regions will no doubt prove fruitful over the coming years. 

Future prospects for Italian wine 

Italy has been fortunate enough to benefit from several developments over the last year or so. US import tariffs introduced in October 2019 on many Burgundy and Bordeaux wines have made the country more attractive to American buyers and, looking ahead, the shift in priorities sparked by the coronavirus crisis may well continue to work in Italy’s favour. 

The significant amount of uncertainty in the global economy is being felt by wineries, merchants and buyers alike, and Italian wines continue to offer remarkable relative value against the top wines of the French Bordeaux and Burgundy regions. 

Recent vintages especially (2015, 2016 and 2017) are considered to set new benchmarks for many producers. With trade expected to carry on at a rolling pace for Italy, the country is set to remain in focus for the rest of 2020.