Bottled Water from Italy Named Best in the World

Smeraldina brand from Sardinia, available at U.S. specialty grocers, topped global blind tasting
Lynn Petrak
Senior Editor
a woman smiling for the camera
Smeraldina artesian water, available at gourmet grocers in the United States, was named best water in the world in a recent global blind-tasting contest.

If still waters run deep, they also run delicious in an aquifer on the Italian island of Sardinia. A line of bottled water from that region was recently named best water in the world at The Berkeley Springs International Blind Water Tasting, held annually in West Virginia.

The Smeraldina brand of artesian water is available at select specialty grocers in the United States, including Balducci’s in New York City. Products are shipped through distribution centers in New Jersey and Chicago.

According to Giuseppe Pinna, Smeraldina’s U.S. director, the family-owned company is working on expanding its distribution while also rolling out new formats. “We are introducing a new Tetra Pak box, as a lot of establishments are switching from plastic,” he told Progressive Grocer in a recent interview.

In addition to the new grab-and-go Tetra Pak box, Smeraldina still and sparkling water is sold in signature 23.5-ounce glass bottles at retail. The drinking quality of the water is attributed to its unique balance of minerals and to the fact that the water has been filtered for 200 years through granite rocks on the Mediterranean island. “This ancient island in the middle of the sea, removed from the mainland of Italy, has developed a unique and different culture,” explained Pinna, adding that Sardinia is known as a “blue zone” for having a comparatively larger portion of the population over the age of 100. 

Smeraldina uses advanced technologies at its Sardinia plant to maintain water quality throughout the production and bottling process, Pinna noted. “We extract the water from the aquifer into the plant, and it’s very pure, very light and good-tasting water,” he said.

The judges at The Berkeley Springs water tasting agreed, bestowing the gold medal on the water from Sardinia. “It’s the so-called Oscars of water and is the oldest international water tasting,” noted Pinna.  

The contest’s watermaster, Arthur von Wiesenberger, said that the Smeraldina water is a regular standout.  “The consistency in winners from year to year with different panels of judges validates the choices,” he observed.  “It also speaks to the impressively high caliber of the waters entered.” 

Smeraldina will showcase its water at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City. “We want to target a niche customer that wants something unique and premium, and price-wise, we are competitive,” Pinna asserted.

Balducci’s Food Lovers Market is a banner of Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons, which operates more than 2,200 retail stores with 1,700-plus pharmacies, 402 associated fuel centers, 22 dedicated distribution centers and 20 manufacturing facilities. It operates stores across 34 states and the District of Columbia under 24 well-known banners. Albertsons is No. 9 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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