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DWWA 2020: Southern Italy wine regions to watch

One week into Decanter World Wine Awards 2020 judging month, we ask Anthony Rose, Regional Chair for Southern Italy, his thoughts on judging so far and look back to DWWA 2019 results for insight...

Decanter World Wine Awards 2020 judging began just one week ago on 1 August, and for 28 consecutive days more than 115 expert wine judges will taste over 16,500 wines under safe, socially distanced conditions to carry out the world’s largest and most prestigious wine competition.

One week in, and the Southern Italy panel is now five days into tasting wines from Puglia, Sardinia, Campania, Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily. ‘We’re judging a massive variation and diversity of wine styles, grape varieties, almost cultures actually’ says Anthony Rose, Regional Chair for Southern Italy. 

See what’s happening at DWWA 2020 judging month

Rose continues, ‘I think we kind of know that the classics in Italy are in Piemonte, in Tuscany and in Veneto, and perhaps Southern Italy gets less attention from real wine lovers than it would otherwise get – but increasingly deserves – given that in pockets within each region of Southern Italy there are real attempts to change the game, to move up the quality and to highlight the style in particular with indigenous varieties.’

Southern Italy’s top-scoring wines from the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards. Scroll down to see 95+ point wines from Campania and Sicily.

Looking back to DWWA 2019 results, Campania and Sicily were Southern Italy’s two standout regions, both receiving two Platinum and three Gold medals each. Campania, in particular, performed exceptionally well where 86% of wines entered from the region received a medal, a 26% increase from 2018 entries.

Cenatiempo’s 2017 ‘Kalimera’ from the island of Ischia in Campania made headlines as one of just five ‘Best in Show’ wines from Italy.

‘With Kalimera we want to express the authenticity of our island,’ explains Cenatiempo. ‘It is made from 100% Biancolella, the variety which over time has best adapted to the Ischia terroir. The terraced hills have great sun exposure and ventilation, and through the grapes the wine reflects the influence of the sea, the mountain scrubland and the volcanic soils.’

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More from Premium: Top wines from Campania DOCGs

The DWWA 2020 Southern Italy panel is feeling very positive about the wines being tasted this year with Anthony Rose mentioning ‘some really nice surprises from Campanian whites’ and panel judge Andres Ituarte looking to Sicily.

‘Sicily is the big one’ says Ituarte. ‘It’s got the altitude, it’s got the sea, it’s got the volcanic soil. There’s so much interest there and so much more to play with for the winemakers.’

Now his fourth year on the Southern Italy panel, Ituarte continues, ‘You can see the development of the regions… when I first started there were so many over-extracted, over-oaked, oak-chippy wines. There’s a real change to drier styles and freshness and balance that wasn’t necessarily there before.

Leone de Castris’ 2015 ‘Donna Lisa’ from Salice Salentino Riserva, was the only wine from Puglia to receive a Gold medal at DWWA 2019. Tasting notes: Aspirational Negroamaro! A veritable fruit basket of ripe blackberries, cherries, plums and lingonberries intermingled with delicious spicy oak, grainy, velvety tannins and a fine, highly polished finish.

‘Puglia is probably the best example with the Primitivos and Aglianicos, but there’s still a lot there. There’s big traditions with these wines, but then, there seems to be more and more drier styles every year. More restraint, more un-oaked styles, and in my opinion I think that’s a good thing.’ 

Find out if wines from Campania and Sicily receive Southern Italy’s highest scores again, or if other regions stand out at the 2020 competition this 22 September when results are announced on Decanter.com.

Southern Italy: DWWA 2019 top-scoring wines from Campania & Sicily

For stockists and additional wine details, select the wine of interest below


Cenatiempo, Kalimera, Ischia, Campania, Italy, 2017

97 points, Best in Show
100% Biancolella
An astonishing breakthrough this year for this wine, one of a small and dwindling number of ‘heroic’ whites produced against dissuasive physical odds on the island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples. It’s made from the indigenous Biancolella grape variety which few of our judges had ever tasted before – but its golden colour, almost spritzy style, haunting aromas of wild flowers and fragrant scented hay, and its mouthfilling, complex flavour which seem to hint at celery and fennel as well as quince and captivated everyone who tasted it.  A unique, cultural wine of memorable, stealthy charm. Drink 2019-2021

Cantina Sanpaolo di Claudio Quarta, Riserva, Taurasi, Campania, Italy, 2013

97 points, Platinum
100% Aglianico
A dazzling array of fragrant black cherries, violets and tobacco leaf with a warming liquorice, clove and vanilla core. Intensely concentrated and full of character with luxurious tannins, a fresh, succulent acidity and a mouthwatering finish.

Quintodecimo, Vigna Quintodecimo Riserva, Taurasi, Campania, Italy, 2014

98 points, Platinum
100% Aglianico
An outstanding example of Aglianico! Enticing layers of black cherry, dark chocolate and liquorice underpinned by finely interwoven tannins, a glossy texture and a velvety, fruit-driven finish. Very long with a great freshness running throughout.

Marisa Cuomo, Fiorduva, Costa d’Amalfi, Campania, Italy, 2017

96 points, Gold
40% Ripolo, 30% Fenile, 30% Ginestra
Refined layers of honeyed toast, nuts, red apple and peach with a bright, elegant acidity, a beautiful fruit purity and a mouth-filling texture. Wonderfully long and lingering.

San Salvatore, Gillo Dorfles Aglianico, Paestum, Campania, Italy, 2015

95 points, Gold
100% Aglianico
A stunning intensity of succulent plums, cherries and vanilla opening up to a full, fleshy, richly textured palate with silky, velvet tannins and a long, powerful finish.

Tenuta Scuotto, Oi nì Fiano, Campania, Campania, Italy, 2015

95 points, Gold
100% Fiano
A captivating blend of ripe tropical fruit, savoury bread and honeyed nuts, with a warm, rich texture and a lush, mouthwatering acidity. Concentrated, decadent and long.


Colosi, Secca del Capo, Salina, Sicily, Italy, 2018

97 points, Platinum
100% Malvasia di Lipari
Enticing tropical fruit and delicate mineral characters give way to an explosion of vibrant citrus and succulent stone fruit; understated and elegant with a beautiful acid backbone, a superb freshness and a very long, intense finish.

Donnafugata, Ben Ryé, Passito di Pantelleria, Sicily, Italy, 2016

98 points, Platinum
100% Zibibbo
More of an experience than merely a wine! An exotic blast of ripe stone fruit and sweet spice unfold to reveal honeyed layers of mandarin zest and sumptuous apricot. Creamy and luxurious with a superb acidity and captivating finish.

Baglio del Cristo di Campobello, Laudàri Chardonnay, Sicilia, Sicily, Italy, 2017

96 points, Gold
100% Chardonnay
A fabulous blend of intense tropical fruit and smoky, nutty vanilla aromas, with a wonderfully structured, rich sunny palate underpinned by a beautifully fresh mineral character and a long, classy finish.

Di Legami, Berlinghieri Grillo, Sicilia, Sicily, Italy, 2018

95 points, Gold
100% Grillo
Bewitching aromas and flavours of ripe stone fruits, honey and orange zest. Complex, crisp and long, this is a very nicely made example of Grillo. Great development potential, too.

Torre Mora, Scalunera, Etna, Sicily, Italy, 2018

95 points, Gold
100% Carricante
Layers of stunning citrus, apple and delicate florals with a delicious mineral core; crisp, fresh and salty with a mouthwatering, succulent acidity and a delightful honeyed floral finish.

See all DWWA 2019 results

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