ITALIAN STALLIONS

by Rose Murray Brown MW         Published in The Scotsman 22 November 2014

WHITE

Abruzzo: TRABOCCHETTO PECORINO 2013 Talamonti (£15.95 Valvona & Crolla) Always a winner at tastings, this zesty minerally white is made from the popular Pecorino grape grown in Colline Pescaresi. Named after Pecora the sheep, not the cheese. A vine said to have derived from local wild grapes (perhaps the sheep enjoyed eating them). Originally from Marche in eastern Italy, revived by Guido Grifoni in the 1980s in Ascoli Piceno, this popular grape is now being planted across around Pescara in Abruzzo, Umbria, Calabria, Lazio and Tuscany. 13% alc 

Friuli: SHARIS 2012 Livio Felluga (£19.95 Valvona & Crolla; Fine Wine Musselburgh; Drinkmonger; Cornelius Wines; Longship Orkney; Exel Wines) This unusual blend of local and international grapes was hugely popular wine at our recent Italian tasting. 60% Ribolla Gialla is rounded out with 40% Chardonnay giving a citric juicy slightly herby and very creamy white from its 6 months lees ageing. Unoaked, but fruity and intense enough to take on a rich sauce. This comes from the impressive Felluga estate with fruit from Friuli’s Colli Orientali in the north east corner of Italy. 12.5% alc

Alto Adige: GEWURZTRAMINER 2013 Alois Lageder (£14.50 Bibendum Wines; www.winedirect.co.uk) If you like your Gewurztraminer gently spicy and dry with a sharp crisp focus, head to the Alpine vineyards of Alto Adige. Top producer Alois Lageder makes superb refined focused whites from fruit grown partially in the warmer Adige river valley supplemented by cooler higher grown Isarco grapes from 750 metre altitude to give it vibrant acidity. Try with lightly spiced Asian dishes. 13.5% alc

Campania: FIANO DI AVELLINO 2013 Feudi di San Gregorio (£16 www.winedirect.co.uk; Luvians, Cupar & St Andrews) If you like Sauvignon Blanc, try this. It might have a little more of the characteristic Italian nutty almond flavours, crisp apple and pear notes and a rich waxy feel to the palate, but Fiano is still vibrantly crisp dry and minerally making an ideal aperitif or seafood partner. This is textbook Fiano from Campania’s current leading producer (founded recently in 1986) made in the Sabato river valley of Avellino province, an hour east of Naples and Mount Vesuvius – in the C19 this was the seat of revolutionary riots but not is known as the Switzerland of Italy producing stunning crisp whites. I gather the Australians are now growing Fiano down-under as it is a grape which can give crispness even grown in the heat – watch out Italy. 13% alc

RED

Sicily: FRAPPATO 2013 Planeta (£14.95 Valvona & Crolla) This new release from the highly rated Planeta family in Sicily was an unexpected surprise. The rare native Sicilian Frappato grape is usually blended with better known weightier Nero d’Avola, but here it is in its own solo glory from vines planted on red sands close to the sea. Loved its amazing bouquet, so fresh and floral with light pomegranate fruits, soft rounded voluptuously smooth palate – like tasting a slightly baked over-ripe Pinot Noir. It would be delicious with roast duck or perhaps even the turkey. Alc: 13% STAR BUY

Trentino: TEROLDEGO ROTALIANO 2012 Mastri Vernacoli (£8.49 Valvona & Crolla) For those who usually drink Merlot or Syrah, this unusual native Italian grape might appeal. Teroldego is an old varietal from C14 now being revived in northern Italy. Today only 400 hectares grow on Trentino’s Campo Rotaliano, needless to say it is a tricky grape to grow as it overcrops easily so growers – but if yields are kept in check the result is an amazingly soft succulent vibrant red with a delicious blackcherry fruit flavour, ripe tannins, mouthwatering zesty acidity and spicy tobacco undertones – it will not be long before this becomes all the rage. I listed this in my summer reds – but it is such great value I would recommend serving this with roast lamb, duck or charcuterie platters. 13% alc

Veneto: VALPOLICELLA SUPERIORE RIPASSO 2011 Musella (£15.99 Virgin Wines) An upmarket Valpolicella. There is so much dross from this corner of Veneto, but there is also superb quality from the true Valpolicella producers in the hills. You just need to know where to look. This is made by the Ripasso style, whereby ….. The result is a superbly smooth, highly charged Valpol with rich brambly fruits and a rich glycerol feel. Ripasso is fast becoming a popular style as it offers a hint of dried fruit charms of Amarone at a reasonable price. An added bonus for ‘organic’ wine hunters, Musella are converting their vineyards to biodynamic. 13.5% alc

Friuli: SCHIOPPETTINO 2007 Bressan (£19.99 Les Caves de Pyrene www.lescaves.co.uk; £23.77 Exel Wines, Perth) If you love old Pinot Noir, drop everything and go and hunt for this. This red Friuli gem is not made from Pinot Noir, but from Schioppettino (also known as Ribolla Nera). Bottle ageing is essential for this grape – this wine is now so mellow and characterful. Named after ‘scoppietto’ (crackle) perhaps due to the faint fizziness in the mouth. A really unusual wine from a revered grape – it smells peppery and tastes herby – it would make an interesting match for haggis. If you enjoy it, you can even head to the annual Schioppettino festival in May in Prepotto. See you there! Alc 13%

Lombardy: CASTELLO DI LUZZANO ROSSO RISERVA 2003 Giovannella Fugazza (£18.99 Raeburn Wines, Edinburgh) Another unusual Italian from Rovescala in little known Oltrepo Pavese, Lombardy’s most westerly outpost. Dominated by the bright cherry fruits of Barbera in the blend, softened by the succulence and silkiness of Pinot Nero, with long ageing (spot the riserva on the label) this has matured to a very distinctive mellow and characterful red to surprise all Pinot lovers. It is a little known fact that Oltrepo Pavese grows much of Italy’s Pinot Nero, but it sadly disappears into fizz blends. 14% alc

Italian wine tastingVeneto: PALAZZO DELLA TORRE 2011 Allegrini (£18.95 Drinkmonger; Valvona & Crolla; Lockett Bros; Exel Wines; Fine Wine Musselburgh; Markinch Wine Gallery; Woodwinters; Villeneuve Wines) You cannot go wrong with Allegrini. This superb Veneto based family firm produces a very impressive wine range, all beautifully made and eminently drinkable. This enchanting wine is named after their HQ Palazzo della Torre at Fumane near Verona in the heart of the Valpolicella Classico hills (pictured here with view over to Lake Garda). This delicious wine is a modern twist on classic Ripasso, with 70% grapes vinified immediately and the remainder dried until December – all re-fermented and aged together for 15 months in second use barriques. Best matched with grilled meats, roast beef, fine cured Zibello pork loin or gnocchi with gorgonzola cheese and walnuts….you get the picture. 13.5% alc

Join Rose’s Classic Wine Dinners at The Peat Inn, Fife on Sat 21 March 2015 or Rhubarb, Prestonfield House Hotel, Edinburgh on Wed 13 May 2015 : £96 per person www.rosemurraybrown.com

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