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A Visit (or Three) to Cantine Isola in Milan

In the heart of Milan’s Chinatown district is one of the cities best enoteche. Cantine Isola dates back to 1896, however the current owners have had it for about 30 years. This is a special place, and I couldn’t help but draw some comparisons to Five Way Cellars.



Isola acts as both a wine store and a wine bar. As such, it is well known within Milan as a meeting point for wine enthusiasts who gather here to share a bottle and discover something new in the world of wine.


Like Five Ways, ever inch of the shop is taken up by shelving displaying wine from across the globe. Naturally, Italian wine dominates the store, with some familiar names jumping out at me. But there is plenty I don’t recognise, too.


Being the start of summer, and with the sun not going down until after 9pm, we found ourselves drinking plenty of sparkling. I was impressed by a couple of Franciscortas I sampled, and also thoroughly enjoyed a traditional method fizz from Trento DOC. Bottles are opened and come with complimentary olives and salami and customers stand on the street outside or handle over makeshift tables (overturned wooden wine boxes) in the corners of the store, while patrons browse the shelves around them. There’s nothing flash about the store, besides the wine they sell, and that’s just the way I like it.


Besides Italian wine, the grower Champagne selection was exhaustive, while a couple of Aussie locals had found their way into the shelves too in Joshua Cooper and William Downie.


One visit turned into three as we managed to find our way back to Isola three nights in a row. You could stay for hours, or you could have a bottle in the sun before moving on to dinner elsewhere, as we did a couple of times.


Cantine Isola is a must visit when visiting Milan. It’s a true Italian wine experience in the heart of the city and like me, you’ll find yourself planning your next visit as soon as you’ve completed your first.