Italy – The Land of Wine | Tasting Review | April 2019

Long known as Entoria – The Land of Wine, Italy is the world’s most exciting, interesting wine producing country. Although wine production goes back many centuries to pre-Roman times, it has really only been the past 30 years that Italy has become an international force. Gone are the rustic Chianti basket flasks; the flavourless whites. Today the wines are as interesting and diverse as the country itself. With around 330 commercially producing grape varieties, Italy accounts for around a 1/3 of the world’s total.

For this tasting we included wines from around the country; the traditional to the new.

Belstar Prosecco Brut

The lightly sparkling wine from the Veneto region of the North East that has become so incredibly popular over the past few years. This is produced by the Bisol family, who are regarded as “Prosecco royalty’. Fresh, light and easy drinking are the hallmarks.

Pala i Fiori Vermentino 2017

The Pala family are credited with bringing the Island of Sardina’s wines to the world. Although Vermentino isn’t native to the island, it has certainly found a home here on the sandy/clay soils and is the most widely planted white variety accounting for over half the world’s total. Made to be dry, crisp and fresh with hints of herbs and lemon. Bring on the seafood.

Elena Walch Pinot Grigio 2016

From the Alto-Adige region high in the alps bordering Austria. Even though it is mountainous, the summers are hot and dry giving superb ripening conditions. Dry, elegant and fresh with pear, lemon fruit flavours. Some palate richness and depth.

Gran Sasso Alta Quota Pecorino 2017

It was then to the central region of Abruzzo where the native variety of Pecorino has emerged from obscurity. With still just 300ha planted it remains relatively rare. Straw yellow in colour, this has a lightly spiced nose from the partial oak ageing which gives way to a fine, floral and ripe citrus fruit character on the palate. On the palate, the wine has good length with ripe pear characters continuing through to the finish.

Poggio Anima Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2017

The Montepulciano variety is the signature red of the Abruzzo region. This is from a single vineyard and quite impressive for the money. Dark and juicy with a bit of spice, dark chocolate flavours. Extremely good value.

Planeta Contradanza Rosso 2016 

It has only been in recent years that the wines of Sicily have had a much larger audience and varieties such as Nero d’Avola have gained popularity. Planeta are one of the family owned wineries who are really bringing the Islands’ wines to international attention. This is 85% Nero d’Avola with Merlot  grown in the tradition home of the Nero d’Avola grape — the area of Noto in the island’s south-east. Ripe and fairly dark fruited with a crunchy berry freshness.

Giordano Primitivo Reserva 2015

Staying in the south of Italy this is from Manduria in the region of Puglia (Italy’s heel). Primitivo enjoys the hot dry climate, producing dark, very ripe reds that can be quite high in alcohol. This has been one of our top selling Italian wines for the past couple of years. It’s a big, ripe and intense, dark sweet-fruited style with florals and herbs. The tannins are substantial, yet rich and rounded and a gentle acidity keeps it fresh and expressive and at 14.5% alcohol not over the top.

Isole e Olena Chianti Classico 2015

The name ‘Isole e Olena’ came about in the 1950s when two adjoining estates, ‘Isole’ and ‘Olena’, were purchased by the De Marchi family and combined to form one. The history of both estates dates back many hundreds of years, and the earliest documentation of the village of Olena goes as far back as the 12th century. Today, the estate is run by Paolo De Marchi and his wife Marta. This is 80% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo & 5% Syrah and so very Italian tasting – Black/blue fruits, herbs and some savoury notes. The nice dry tannins are well balanced by the fruit richness. An excellent wine

Produttorri del Barbaresco 2015

The beauty of the land, food and wine attracts people from around the world to the Piedmonte region of the north west. Here it is the Nebbiolo variety that reigns, with the regions of Barolo and Barbaresco being the most well known. Produttorri emerged in the 1950s when a group of growers got together to make wine under their own label. They have become incredibly successful remaining true to their ethos of family. A dark colour, with bright, floral, dark cherry flavour aspects. Powerful and tannic on the palate with a salty liquorice character. A wine that can be cellared for another 20+ years.

Guerrieleri Rizzardi ‘3 Cru’ Amarone 2012

The final wine took us back to the North East, around the Veneto region. To traditionally make this style the grapes are dried on straw mats before fermentation – a technique originally designed to ensure ripe flavours. Made from 100% dried Corvina grapes, that have been raisined in the drying room for 3½ months. A long, slow fermentation of one month, followed by malolactic fermentation in oakand 3 years aging in oak. Normally this would be bottled as 3 different wines from each of the Cru vineyards but low yields in 2012 meant this had to be bottled together. Rich, big and decadent and at 16% alcohol a bit of a monster. Easy to see why this won Platinum and Trophy at Decanter’s World Wine Awards 2017.