By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 30 April 2022
From crisp bubbly to rich reds, luscious whites and a sensational dessert wine – here is my pick of a dozen great Italian wines to add to your list:
Veneto: VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SUPERIORE EXTRA DRY NV Drusian (11%)
£14.95 Stone Vine; Good Spirits Co
The Valdobbiadene hills are prime Prosecco country, where the Glera grape creates superior stylish high quality versions of the fizz. This light fruit-ripe approachable crisp dry sparkling wine is from family-owned winery Drusian – packaged in a very elegant eye-catching bottle.
Sicily: ERUZIONE ‘1614’ 2018 Planeta (12.5%)
£18.50 The Wine Society
Sleek sophisticated blend of local Carricante grape with a touch of Riesling planted on lava deposits from the legendary 1614 eruption on Mount Etna. Unoaked appley notes with honeyed creamy palate and savoury minerally finish made by the pioneering Planeta family at their new Etna winery.
Lazio: BELLONE 2021 Casale del Giglio (13.5%) ***STAR BUY***
£13.99 Valvona & Crolla
Impressive new find from Valvona & Crolla’s shelves – made from indigenous late-ripening Lazio grape Bellone which is rarely used as a varietal, it normally disappears in Frascati blends. Grown near the coast with yields kept low, this single varietal is enhanting with ripe apple and mango notes, pronounced acidity, citric fruits – a fresh vibrant lightly spicy white with distinctive salty tang to finish.
Puglia: SALENTO EDDA LEI BIANCO 2018 Cantina San Marzano (14%)
£16 Strictly Wine; Great Wines Direct; Corking Wines
Always popular at our tastings, this French oak aged creamy complex Chardonnay is blended with two local grapes Muscatello Selvatico and Fiano Minutolo to enhance grapey peachy notes. A succulent citric white with broad rounded palate, made by the impressive San Marzano cooperative.
Campania: FALAGHINA 2018 La Sibilla (12%)
Luigi di Meo of La Sibilla is master of the Falaghina Flegrea grape where he grows it ungrafted and phylloxera free in the volcanic sandy soils in Campi Flegrei DOC, just north of Naples. Fresh unoaked lees aged in stainless steel, this is elegant with rich intense flavours with tarragon hints and a remarkably low alcohol level – perfect for summer drinking.
Lazio: CESANESE 2020 Casale del Giglio (13.5%)
£14.99 Valvona & Crolla
Planted on high hilly slopes, Lazio’s prime red grape is quite rare as it is difficult to ripen. This indigenous grape from Frosinone province in Latium produces tiny sparsely clustered grapes which ripen late in October, but if the harvest is delayed it produces distinctively deep coloured, spicy, baked mulberry fruits with velvety tannins.
Puglia: SUSUMANIELLO 2018 Vallone (13.5%) ***GOOD VALUE***
£8.50 The Wine Society
Made from rare ancient Puglian grape grown near Brindisi, in Italy’s heel by Vallone winery which used to sell its grapes to the local coop, before switching to bottling their own. Some say Susmaniello may be related to Sangiovese; it is usually hidden in Brindisi Rosso blends alongside more popular Negroamaro. Rich ripe fruits with a roasted baked fruit notes, soft tannins and good length for the price.
Marche: GUERRIERO DELLA TERRA 2018 Guerrieri (15%)
£34 Gardabani Wines
For those who like big Italian reds, this superb blend of Montepulciano and Sangiovese proves what potential there is in little known Marche region in central eastern Italy. Intense blackcurrants and plums with a very sweet fruit palate, hints of liquorice, spice and vanilla.
Puglia: NEGROAMARO 2020 Cantina de Falco (13%)
£10.50 Lea & Sandeman
Negroamaro is king in southern Puglia, making robust inexpensive reds and fragrant roses, Grown on calcareous clay rich soils at the old Falco estate near Lecce by Salvatore and Gabriele Falco, this bright fruited softly tannic example is a great value gentle introduction to the Negroamaro grape.
Veneto: AMARONE DELLA VALPOLICELLA 2017 Corte Carista (15%)
Good price for Amarone – this crafty blend of Corvina, Rondinella & Corvinone grapes which were dried on racks for several months after harvest to intensify flavours. Fermented and matured in oak, the result is a wonderful cherry and raspberry fruited with sweet glycerol texture. If you like this – also check out Aldi’s excellent Winemaster’s Lot Amarone from Castellore at £19.99.
Trentino: TEROLDEGO MOREI 2019 Foradori (12.5%)
£30 Vinissimus; North South Wines; Solent Cellar
Amphora fermented (in tinajas from Villarrobledo in Spain) and aged eight months on skins, this Teroldego shows the Trentino grape at its very best achieved after years of biodynamic farming. Single vineyard Morei is remarkably intense, dark, minerally and dense – made by Emilio, Theo and Myrtha Zierock, the children of Trentino’s Teroldego pioneer, Elisabetta.
Pantelleria: BEN RYE PASSITO DI PANTELLERIA 2018 Donnafugata (14.5%) ***STAR BUY***
£49 hf bt Valvona & Crolla
Sensational sweet wine from tiny windswept volcanic Pantelleria island, just off Sicily. Zibibbo as Muscat of Alexandria is called here is grown low on 100 year old albarello bush vines to avoid winds which can be savage on the island. The intense flavours results from hand picked grapes chilled and pressed with dried grapes added at intervals during fermentation in stainless steel. Floral grapey nose with intense caramel and toffee flavours.
Join Rose’s Fine French Classics Dinner in Prestonfield, Edinburgh on Thursday 1 December www.rosemurraybrown.com