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Tag Archives: italian wine

  • SOUTHERN ITALY

    Tristan explores the ancient indigenous sun-kissed vines of Southern Italy

    Whether you’re heading there on holiday, or just looking for some great alternative summer wines to add to your shopping list, this month’s column explores a few of southern Italy’s ancient indigenous grape varieties.

    Fiano has been cultivated in southern Italy for two thousand years. Volcanic slopes surrounding Naples in Italy’s Campania region are the grapes traditional home, producing one of Italy’s great white wines, Fiano di Avellino, but Fiano does well in other regions, too. Mandra Rossa Fiano 2016 from Menfi in south-west Sicily is one of my top tips for a reasonably priced summer white wine.

    At the risk of sounding like a wine toff, this really does taste like Sicilian sunshine in a glass. A refreshing well-balanced medium-bodied white, where ripe exotic tropical fruit flavours are tempered by a refreshing lick of basil-like herbs and an edge of citrus to make your mouth water. Deliciously drinkable and good with all manner of simple summery fish, vegetable, pasta or chicken dishes.

    Indigenous to eastern Sicily, Carricante has been grown the slopes of Mount Etna, for over a thousand years. Etna is Italy's largest and most active volcano, and the Planeta 'Eruzione 1614' Carricante 2015 is named after her longest eruption in 1614 which lasted over 10 years. Made from vines planted at 800m on Etna (Carricante performs best at altitude) by Planeta, one of Sicily's most respected and pioneering winemaking families, this is a remarkably fine, stylish, fresh and elegant wine.

    Pretty floral aromas pull you in for a mouth-watering sip where the intense sensation of minerals marries with crisp green apple and lightly honeyed citrus flavours, carrying the wine to a satisfyingly long, fresh and dry finish. Utterly delicious. I could happily enjoy a glass of this on its own in the heat of summer, but it'd also be great with grilled white fish, seafood risotto, crab linguine or pan fried scallops.

    You’ll be hard pushed to find a better value Italian red than Biferno Rosso Riserva DOC Palladino 2012. The wine comes from Southern Italy’s second smallest region, Molise, on the other side of the ‘leg’ from Naples, nestled between neighbouring Abruzzo and Puglia and flanked by the Apennine Mountains and Adriatic Sea. Molise is rustic, agricultural, and relatively ‘undiscovered’ in terms of both tourism and wine - meaning there’s great value to be found here.

    Made from Montepulciano, one of southern Italy’s superstar grapes, blended with the ancient dark Aglianico grape for extra depth and richness, the wine ages for three years in big old Slavonian oak barrels to soften it and add complexity. Full of slightly dusty rustic charm, with mouth-watering sour cherry flavours, a hint of spice and refreshing savoury herbs. Smooth, quenching and interesting enough to enjoy on its own, but with enough boldness to pair with grilled meats, pizza, and hearty meat or aubergine based pasta. A fantastic staple wine to stock up on, and well worth the money.

    Discover more at Tristan’s Southern Italy & Islands tasting on 12th July at Great Western Wine. Tickets are £15. Click here to book now >

  • Vinitaly

    A flying visit around the World’s largest wine show

    By Edward Mercer

    Just before Easter I was very fortunate to be included in a trip to Italy for the largest wine show in the world. This annual event called ‘Vinitaly’ is held in the not very pretty part of the very pretty little city of Verona. During the show the population of Verona doubles to almost 400,000 as the wine world descends to talk and taste, but unlike most big wine shows this is not an international affair, unbelievably all wines are strictly Italian.

    The 16th century palazzos are nowhere to be seen as the party of ten of us walk through security and into the exhibition park of regionally themed pavilions. These massive spaces hold exhibitions stands for some of Italy’s largest wineries featuring tasting and meeting rooms, display spaces and in many cases roof top balconies and restaurant facilities. Alongside these huge and very flash stands are hundreds of smaller stands with vineyard proprietors proudly showing their wine flights. This should be a lot of fun...

    Day 1 of the show was a blur with visits to some of our key wineries.

    First off was Ruggeri for the best prosecco tasting you could ever hope for. Included in the lineup, and some nice nibbles to kick off, were the Giustino B which was voted the best sparkling wine in Italy last year by Gambero Rosso, and it’s also available in magnums, wow! The Extra Brut was also a highlight for me, a mineral-dry, vibrant prosecco which cries out for seafood.

    Cleto Chiarli was next. More delicious sliced meats and little blini style sandwiches. This was a revisit of some of my favourite wines; Pignoletto, Rosé, Lambrusco and red sparkling Pruno Nero. All going well so far and starting to forget the early flight out.

    An off-the-schedule visit to the Cenatiempo stand. These unusual and delicious wines are from the island of Ischia off the Naples coast. The star for me, and all the group, was undoubtedly the Kalimera Biancolella, fresh, limey and grapey white, really delicious.

    Sartori was next for one of the bit hitters, oh and lunch of fresh pasta and strawberry tart. This significant winery makes huge volume but their best and most famous wines are Regolo and Marani, named after the founder of the company and his wife. These are both excellent. One of my fellow travelers also called Ed commented that he thought the Marani Garganega white was one of the best hidden gems in our wine list, and I tend to agree.

    Nonino Grappa for a post prandial. The first offering was the Nonino Amaro poured liberally over ice in a massive glass, delicious. The 8 year old grappa is also very good, almost like a cross between a fine aged rum and cognac, very surprising. The use of glasses at this stand would leave a bartender fuming, as we must have used 100 glasses between the group and some poor person then had to clean them all. Anyway, onwards…

    The Umani Ronchi stand was enormous and we were ushered upstairs to the private roof tasting thingy. Getting a bit tired now, but this tasting was fantastic with a brand new Pecorino Centovie, the inexpensive San Lorenzo from the Conero hills and the wine of the show, 2003 Rosso Cumaro from double magnum all just singing from the rafters.

    Last visit today to the owners of the largest contiguous vineyards in Barolo, Fontanafredda. This tasting could have been most notable for the sparkling wine made with 1967 barolo dosage (no idea if we will get any but I’ll let you know if we do!), and also the barman who sounded just like Matt Damon. It was actually most notable for the shear quality of the mid-level wines; Gavi di Gavi, Barbera and Moscato were all outstanding, a really impressive tasting line up.

    Done for the day, off to the prettier bit for Aperol Spritz and a look at that Balcony.

    Day 2 at the show

    The first stop on day 2 of Vinitaly was with Sicily's Mandrarossa. After a latish night, the first wines were always going to be a challenge but again it was some of the less expensive wines of the show that were best, in this case Nero d’Avola and single vineyard Urra de Mare sauvignon blanc which showed really well, and as the island’s biggest exporter it was really great to see how good these wines are.

    Last producer to visit at the show was the mighty Planeta also from Sicily. On hand to guide us through was Alessio Planeta, founder and top man. Included in the very extensive tasting were some new crackers under the La Segreta range; Grillo and Nero d’Avola, also the brand new Mamertino from Capo Milazzo in the north east was outstanding, and a new super-premium chardonnay.

    Last conversation of the show was with Allessio Planeta agreeing the trip he will be making to Bath in the Autumn to give a customer dinner – more to follow as soon as we can on that!

    So Vinitaly had been very intense and also a lot of fun, and we were off to Bertani in Valpolicella and then to Ferrari in Trento for visits to these famous and hugely impressive estates (I’ll save this for the next blog). I could have been at Vinitaly for a month, if it was on that long, and probably not tasted half of the wines at the show, but as a wine experience this was very special. I look forward to introducing you to some of these wines in person.

  • Make it at home with Botromagno

    Botromagno recipe

    Ingredients (four people)

    - 500g orecchiette (the traditional ear-shaped pasta of Puglia)
    - 1kg washed turnip greens without the stems
    - Garlic
    - 1 anchovy fillet
    - Salt
    - Chili pepper
    - Breadcrumbs

    Procedure

    Gently boil the turnip greens in salted water. When cooked, take out, keeping the water to cook the orecchiette in. In a large frying pan, gently brown the garlic in a little olive oil and then add the turnip greens and the anchovy fillet. Mix well and leave to cook for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile cook the orecchiette in the turnip green water until al dente. Drain, add to the frying pan and mix well for a couple of minutes. Serve with a sprinkling of breadcrumbs and a little chili pepper.

  • Greetings from Colterenzio...

    Colterenzio

    Tell us the story of the winery

    Colterenzio was founded in 1960 by 28 vintners. Over the years other winemakers from the area joined the collective, and today 300 members cultivate 300 hectares of vineyards.

    What's your nickname when you're at work?

    My name is too short for a nickname ;)

    What's your winemaking philosophy?

    Our aim is to guarantee our customers a stable high wine quality. In the cellar we work on new quality strategies to get the best out of the precious handpicked grapes we get from our farmers.

    What's your favourite cocktail?

    Gin Tonic

    Tell us about your most memorable food and wine moment.

    At a restaurant in Genoa we had a delicious pistachio semifreddo with a dark chocolate souce and a Château d'Yquem Sauternes 1er Cru Supérieru 2000

    You’re a castaway and you can only take three wines, one book and two luxury items with you - what are these and why?

    Three Wines

    Colterenzio Sauvignon Lafòa 2010; Stiftskellerei Neustift Riesling Praepositus 2007; Château d'Yquem Sauternes 1er Cru Supérieru 2000

    One Book

    Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky

    Two Luxury Items

    Sun Lotion and my favourite dress

    If you weren't working in wine, what would your 'Plan B' be?

    Work in another food or beverages company

    You can cook for three guests (living or dead): who are they, and what would you cook them? Also give us a run-down of what you'll be drinking.

    Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Martin Suter & Terrence Malick; "Trofie" with pesto genovese (Pinot Bianco), Dumplings with Beef Goulash  (Lagrein), Apple Strudel (Moscato Rosa)

  • The Ides of Marche

    The Marche is a region of central Italy that was previously ignored in favour of neighbouring Abruzzo. The red Montepulciano of the aforementioned Abruzzo has long been the staple house wine of many a trattoria, and a great all-rounder it is too. Fruity, medium bodied and fresh, it has enough concentration to match with the heartiest of Italian dishes, plus it’s a bargain to boot.

    However, some forward thinking producers, like Umani Ronchi, have been making waves with the region’s long-forgotten white varieties, and some vibrant, intriguing reds.

    Umani Ronchi 

    Owned by the Bianchi-Bernetti family for well over 50 years, Umani Ronchi has become one of Italy’s most respected producers thanks to its championing of local wines such as Verdicchio Classico and Rosso Conero. As one of the third generation of Umani Ronchi, Michele Bernetti took the reins in the late 1980s, developing a family business with terroir as its cornerstone.

    Verdicchio

    Umani Ronchi, Verdicchio Classico Superiore, Casal di SerraFor Michele, the finest grape of Marche, and the wine that defines Umani Ronchi, is the indigenous Verdicchio.  He produces wine in the Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC, an area with the perfect climate for top quality Verdicchio, being just 20 miles from the Adriatic. Umani Ronchi have transformed the style and image of this wine, using lower yields in order to produce concentrated fruit flavours and a rounded palate.

    On the 30th anniversary of Umani Ronchi’s Verdicchio Classico Superiore, Casal di Serra 2013 last year, Daily Mail wine critic Matthew Jukes wrote:

    “...my favourite Verdicchio – the brilliant, single vineyard Casal di Serra. Tasting like a classy Italian ‘Chablis-style’ white I have followed this great value wine for 28 of its years and every single one has been a stunner.”

    Michele says that the family’s Verdicchio can be seen as two wines in one:

    “... our Verdicchio not only has an easy drinking characteristic in youth (thanks to acidity and freshness) but also a more surprising capacity to age that will bring them to be great wines even after over 10 years!”

    Montepulciano...but not as we know it

    Umani Ronchi, Cumaro, Rosso Conero RiservaRosso Conero is made with the Montepulciano grape, together with a maximum of 15% Sangiovese; the finest examples, however, use a minimal amount of Sangiovese. In fact, Umani Ronchi’s version, Cumaro, Rosso Conero Riserva 2010, doesn’t use a drop – it is a 100% Montepulciano. The wine takes its name from Mount Conero, a mountain which towers over Ancona in the south, and it is certainly a wine that stands head and shoulders above all other reds of the region.

    This flagship red uses the very best hand-selected grapes from the family’s 'San Lorenzo' vineyard in Sbrozzola, Osimo - the wine’s hints of wild cherry and fruits of the forest are complemented by the 16 months of barrel ageing and 7 months resting in the bottle.

    Also try...

    As well as these modern classics, Umani Ronchi produces a couple of other fabulous whites and reds that are definitely worth seeking out.

    Umani Ronchi, Pecorino Golden FleeceThe Pecorino Golden Fleece 2013 is a fragrant, minerally wine that makes a refreshing aperitif or a lovely match with seafood or simply grilled fish. On the nose there are hints of peach, mango and candied rose petals that open up to a long, full, mineral-rich palate. The wine is also brilliantly packaged, with a fresh, modern, inviting label.

    Wine buyer Sergio de Luca reported back from his Made in Italy tasting weekend in Bath recently, saying that the Umani Ronchi Lacrima di Morro d'Alba 2013 was one of the surprise customer favourites. Again, the wine is beautifully labelled, full of vibrant aromas of rose and violet and crushed blackberry. The palate has a firm structure that would suggest a food match with rich meats like venison or even a roast Easter lamb.

    By Chris Penwarden

  • Tried & Tested: Mama's Day Tiramisu with Anselmi, I Capitelli IGT 2011

    In the spirit of all things Italian, I wanted to try a classic recipe that we are all familiar with, and as Mother's Day is just around the corner I thought a dessert would be perfect (who's mum doesn't have a sweet tooth?).  With this in mind, the wine choice was quite clear; Anselmi, I Capitelli IGT, 2011.  A sweet wine that deserves an even sweeter dish, and you can't get much sweeter than Tiramisu...

    I chose a recipe that excluded alcohol, allowing the wine the chance to steal the show - which it did.  Flavours of almonds, chamomile and orange marmalade paired brilliantly with the sweet vanilla and coffee flavours of the soaked sponge, and the warmth of the wine was the perfect finish to an indulgently creamy dish.  Why not treat your mum on Sunday with this temptingly sweet treat?

    Tiramisu with  Anselmi, I Capitelli IGT 2011

     

    Ingredients

    - 120ml strong coffee, at room temperature
    - 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    - 3 large egg yolks
    - 50g granulated sugar
    - 225g mascarpone cheese
    - 175 ml double cream
    - 18 to 20 Italian ladyfingers (baking aisle)
    - 30g cocoa powder for dusting

    Method
    Prepare Coffee

    Combine coffee, vanilla extract and a tablespoon of sugar in a wide, small bowl. Allow to cool.

    Prepare Filling


    Beat egg yolks, and 3 tablespoons of sugar in a bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water until tripled in volume, 5 to 8 minutes.

    Use a whisk or, to make things easier, a handheld electric mixer at medium speed. (Do not stop beating until removed from the heat).
    Remove bowl from heat then beat in mascarpone cheese until just combined.  Set aside.

    Whip cream in a bowl until it holds stiff peaks. Once the yolk and mascarpone mixture has cooled a little, gently fold in the whipped cream, half at a time.

    Assemble Tiramisu

    Dip half of the ladyfingers very quickly into the coffee, and line the bottom of a 9-inch square dish.
    Spoon half of the mascarpone filling over the lady fingers and spread into an even layer. Sprinkle the cocoa powder over filling.

    Dip the remaining ladyfingers very quickly into the coffee and arrange a second layer.
    Spoon remaining mascarpone mixture over ladyfingers. Sprinkle more cocoa on top.  You can repeat the above steps if you want to include more layers.

    Cover with cling film. leaving space at the top and refrigerate.  6 hours is recommended but I tried 4 and the consistency of cream and sponge was just right.

    When ready to serve, dust with extra cocoa powder. Leave out at room temperature about 20 minutes before serving. (Tiramisu can be chilled up to 2 days, but no longer or else the ladyfingers will break down too much).

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    By Olivia Moore

    See original recipe here

    Anselmi, I Capitelli IGT 2011 £29.50  £25.96 ) + 10% off 12+ bottles

    Prices above are valid until 31.03.15

     

  • Head over heels for Italy

    The Italian peninsula is often referred to as the ‘boot’, with the most southern tip known as ‘the toe’ and the far south east dubbed ‘the heel’. To help simplify this varied country, we’ve prepared a short guide to the styles and grapes of North and Central Italy that’ll soon get you into your stride...

    Fattoria dei Barbi, Vin Santo DOCTuscany is the Bordeaux of Italy – famous for its full bodied red wines made from local grape Sangiovese, sometimes blended with Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. This is the home of Chianti Classico and Brunello but also other Sangiovese-based reds like Morellino di Scansano and Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (not to be confused with Montepulciano the grape, famous further down the boot in Abruzzo, Central Italy). It’s not just red wine country though – white grape Vermentino thrives here, delivering crisp, lightly aromatic fruity wines. Like Bordeaux, there is also a Sweet wine made here too - Vin Santo - but its infinitely more affordable that the likes of Sancerre, brilliant with almondy biscotti biscuits and a coffee.

     

    Ascheri, Nebbiolo d'Alba DOC, Bricco San Giacomo

    Piedmont is Italy’s other source of fine red wine, often seen as the country’s answer to Burgundy. Here the Nebbiolo grape is king – and the growing emphasis on single vineyards is akin to Burgundy’s grand and premier cru system. Nebbiolo is famous for its distinctive aromas of ‘tar and roses’, and is at its most aromatic and long lived in Barolo and Barbaresco. Barbera and Dolcetto are two other local grapes that are usually lighter and more immediately fruity, like a more tannic Pinot Noir. Again the white varieties should not be forgotten, like fruity, lemon-scented Gavi di Gavi, honest, grapey Moscato and the soft, rounded Arneis.

     

    Ferrari Perlé Blanc Brut

    If Tuscany is Bordeaux and Piedmont is Burgundy, then the Trentino hills must surely be the Champagne of Italy. This is Italy’s region for top quality fizz, using the same production methods as Champagne and the same grapes, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The wines are packaged equally smartly, with producers like Ferrari gracing the tables of some of the world’s best restaurants. Like Champagne, these wines can be Blanc de Blancs (white grapes only), Blanc de Noirs (black grapes only), non-vintage blends, wines of a single vintage, rosés and also prestige labels that are easily the equal of the best of France.

     

    Anselmi, Capitel Croce IGTVeneto and the north east of Italy is the place to go for aromatics, fizz and innovation. The alpine area of Alto Adige is best known for fresh, vibrant varieties like the three Pinots; Bianco, Grigio and Noir, while the Prosecco region surely needs no further introduction. The same still, aromatic varieties abound in Friuli–Venezia Giulia whereas things start to get more varied in the Veneto, a region full of contrasts. Light and fruity is generally the order of the day, with every day drinking reds and whites from Corvina (Valpolicella), Pinot Grigio and Garganega (Soave). However, styles of Valpolicella like Amarone and Ripasso are revered as rich, heavy reds that are a great match for robust red meats and hard cheeses. There are also rebels like producer Anselmi making blends of local and international grapes outside the production rules of Soave, to great effect.

     


    Umani Ronchi Lacrima di Morro d'AlbaCentral Italy
    is becoming equally innovative with producers making boutique versions of old forgotten classics like Lambrusco and more complex versions of the ever-popular Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Areas like Marche are on the up, with brilliant whites made from the local Verdicchio and Pecorino grapes. Likewise, intriguing reds of intense ruby, like the amazing Lacrima di Morro d'Alba, underline the fact that this is an area of increasing sophistication at everyday prices.

    So why not dip your toe into these Italian styles - you’ll soon be head over heels with what you find.

    Watch out for Angela Mount’s guide to Southern Italy later this month

    By Chris Penwarden

  • Hot off the press – Italian Special

    Great Western Wine - Wines in the press

    Decanter magazine’s Italy Supplement this month features five producers from Great Western Wine. This is a lovely affirmation of the high quality, diverse range of Italian wines that we have waiting for you in store and online.

    A sparkling result

    In his opening gambit, “Why Italian wine has never been better”, Ian D'Agata writes about the diversity, modernity, reinvention and future of winemaking in today’s Italy. D'Agata’s recent book Native Wine Grapes of Italy was 13 years in the making, so you could say he knows a thing or two about Italian wine.

    D'Agata particularly focuses on the subject of sparkling wines, highlighting the wines of Trento:

    Ferrari Perlé Blanc Brut

    “Trento DOC wines made in Trentino are blessed with higher natural acidity and a tighter, more austere mouthfeel. Therefore, they appeal more to those consumers looking for a fresher, livelier sparkler.”

    He goes on to pick Ferrari’s Perlé 2007 as one of his favourites: “Bright and light in style, with floral and peachy aromas and flavours that just go on and on. 90/100

    A few pages later, Richard Baudains article on Prosecco Superiore, explains that the DOCG version of Prosecco, from the historic production area in the hills between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene (as opposed to the larger area of DOC), now “offers a genuine step up and is worth seeking out.”

    Prosecco, Ruggeri, Vecchie Viti DOCG

    Baudains takes Ruggeri’s Vecchie Viti Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2013 as an example: “Biscuit crust and mineral nose, delicate herby nuances and a slightly spicy, aromatic note.  Very fine, elegant perlage.  The palate has rapier intensity, length, depth and purity. Uncompromising and bone dry. 93/100

    Crus Control

    Monty Waldin urges Brunello fans to seek out “single-vineyard expressions” in his article ‘The many crus of Montalcino’; there’s more than just one style of Brunello, he writes.

    Il Poggione, Brunello di Montalcino RiservaIl Poggione Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2007 is sourced from a 15 hectare single vineyard in Sant’Angelo, Colle, with vines grown on rocky clay at an altitude of 250m. Waldin likes its “effortlessly drinkable” style and its “sour cherry fruit nicely arranged around tannins with a savoury balsam feel.”

    Smoldering good looks

    In his regional profile on Etna, Sicily, Simon Woolf says that “the vinous potential of Etna’s unique volcanic terroir is finally being fully realised.”

    Planeta Eruzione 1614 Carricante

    According to Woolf, local grape Carricante has a “Riesling-like ability to age, mutating from nervy saltiness to honeyed, smoky maturity, without any assistance from oak.”            

    Eruzione Bianco 1614 Carricante Planeta 2013    “The addition of a small amount of Riesling seems to lift the aromatics in this superbly focused, pin-sharp Carricante from a large but quality-focused producer.  The fruit is generous, the finish long and mineral.”

    Unique and Iconic

    Ian D’Agata concludes the supplement with a piece called ‘The white icons of our times’ which includes the “unique” Jermann Vintage Tunina 2012:

    Jermann, Vintage Tunina IGT“A blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay with a small percentage of Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia Istriana and Picolit (Pinot Blanco was originally planned but a nursery error led to Chardonnay being planted instead).  The grapes are slightly late-harvested together from a 16ha site at Ronco del Fortino, and the wine sees no oak.   It takes its name from that of Antonia (Tunina, in dialect),  past owner of the vineyards from which the wine is made , and is dedicated to another Antonia, one of Casanova’s favourite lovers.  Although best drunk within 5 years, it can improve for up to 15.”

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