For Italians, nothing quite says ‘festive’ like panettone. Whether enjoyed with a coffee in the morning or a vino Recioto at night, this Milanese sweet bread is a holiday season staple.

Here at the Officina, we’ve become so consumed with finding the perfect panettone that for the past two years, we’ve held informal (but ever so serious) tasting sessions in the run-up to Christmas. As to their origins, we can blame the pandemic. With little opportunity to see family or friends, the ‘Bottega Bubble’ was all. So we took comfort where we could and started sampling traditional, handmade panettoni from different regions of Italy from various artisan producers. In no time at all, we became armchair experts, rating each of these ‘classical’ panettoni on essential attributes like:

  • Fati con le mani (handmade, like a Pegoretti)
  • External appearance (shape, volume, colour)
  • Appearance when cut (texture and interior colour)
  • Softness, moist, looseness
  • Perfume, fruit quantity and distribution
  • Flavour
A panettone in its native habitat

Eventually, a clear winner emerged, and a Traditional Panettone Champion was crowned. And this season is no different. As these photos from a recent tasting session attest, we’ve already munched our way through several stellar (and some quite pedestrian) panettoni, and we’ll get through a score more before the season is out and the 2022 winner is declared.

But this year, as the competition enters its most mouth-watering stage, we wanted to bring our panettone deliberations out of isolation. So we asked our foodie friends at VIA Atelier in London to help us choose this year’s winner, who happily agreed to host a festive finale with a live link up to the Bottega at their Kings Cross showroom on December 7th.

If you’d like to see the finale from the sidelines (and enjoy VIA Atelier’s heady mix of cycling culture at the same time), pop into VIA at about 10ish on the 7th to watch the judging for yourself.

And yes, there may well be panettone to taste.

Pietro tasting a panettone
Panettone from above - still delicious
Panettone Deliberations