By Rose Murray Brown MW Published in The Scotsman 11 September 2021
My pick of 13 top Italian white, red & roses from various regions across Italy:
Sicily: MANDRAROSSA FIANO ‘CIACA BIANCA’ 2018 Cantine Settesoli (13%)
£9.99 -£11.50 Aitken Wines, Dundee; Luvians, St Andrews; Fine Wine Musselburgh; Valvona & Crolla, Edinburgh
A Sicilian take on the popular Fiano grape from an impressive big producer. Initially crisp citric, minerally with clean bright focus, midpalate it gives herby baked fruit undertones, textural richness and a long nutty finish. From vineyards close to the sea where mild temperatures and moderating sea breezes keep acidity fresh and zippy.
Campania: CRUNA DE LAGO FALANGHINA 2016 La Sibilla (13%)
£27 Justerini & Brooks
From fifth generation growers in Campania’s Campi Flegrei subzone with its rich volcanic soils. Zesty herby notes and citrus fruit mingle with sleek minerally undertones and an appetising saltiness. With its deep straw colour, textural richness and weight – it tastes as if it has spent time in old oak – but it has been simply fermented and aged on its lees in tank.
Sicily: ETNA BIANCO DI SEI 2018 Palmento Costanzo (12%) ***STAR BUY***
£25.95 Lea & Sandeman
Superb example made from local Sicilian Carricante grape grown organically at 800 metres on Etna’s volcanic sand with a little Cataratto to add crispness and zip. The old Palmento Costanzo winery, in Passopisciaro on Etna’s northern slopes, has crafted a limey ripe dense white with full ripe mango and pineapple and taut mineral tension.
Puglia: VERDECA TALO 2019 Cantine San Marzano (12.5%)
£11.99 Valvona & Crolla, Edinburgh; Fountainhall Wines, Aberdeen
Enticing floral and green apple aromas, crisp bone-dry limey palate with creamy honeyed finish – a great introduction to rare native Verdeca grape from the outstandingly good San Marzano co-operative in Salento. Fermented in stainless steel at cool temperatures to retain its primary fruit, finished in French oak for three months to add textural richness.
Fruili: RONCO PITOTTI PINOT GRIGIO 2015 Vignai da Duline (12.5%) ***STAR BUY***
£23.99 Raeburn Fine Wines
A wine for all Pinot Grigio sceptics made by two holistic viticulture enthusiasts, Lorenzo Mocchiutti and Federica Magrini in Colli Orientali in north east Italy near the Slovenian border. This is a superb wine from 1940 and 1958 vines in Ronco Pitotti vineyard’s warm amphitheatre. Rich pear, ripe opulent plump palate with creamy, spicy undertones and hint of salinity to finish.
Piedmont: BARBERA D’ASTI 2019 Roberto Ferraris (14.5%) ***GOOD VALUE***
Well priced Barbera d’Asti with very attractive morello cherry aromas, silky tannins, savoury flavours and good backbone of acidity. Make sure you buy the right one as Aldi sells two Barbera d’Asti (the other is their cheaper Specially Selected), but this one from the old Ferraris estate is so much smoother, more concentrated and better quality.
Sicily: CERASUOLO DI VITTORIA 2018 Santa Tresa (14%)
£11.50 The Wine Society
Very appealing fresh spicy slightly herbal Sicilian blend, made from 60% Nero d’Avola (some of which was allowed to raisin on the vine) and 40% Frappato, part aged in French oak. Whilst Nero d’Avola gives intense cherry, Frappato adds freshness, spice and an attractive wild raspberry Beaujolais-like fruit style to the blend.
Tuscany: CHIANTI CLASSICO 2018 Monteraponi (14%) ***STAR BUY***
£21 Justerini & Brooks
Fabulous example of Chianti Classico from an ancient mediaeval hamlet in Radda commune. Loved its enticing herby, tea and cherry fruit aromas, juicy raspberry, tomato leaf, slightly earthy notes with fine silky tannins and enchanting softness from 16 months in large oak. Primarily Sangiovese with a little Canaiolo Nero.
Puglia: PRIMITIVO DI MANDURIA ’62 ANNIVERSARIO’ 2017 San Marzano (14.5%)
£20 Strictly Wine
For those who like big powerful inky dark reds, this is one of the lushest examples of popular Primitivo from San Marzano co-operative. Spicy wild berry character and great elegance on the finish – an ideal gift for anyone turning 62 this year who likes robust reds.
Piedmont: NEBBIOLO D’ALBA LA REALA 2014 Bel Colle (14%) ***STAR BUY***
£17.99 Raeburn Fine Wines
Nebbiolo is a grape which needs time to soften its forbidding structure. This beautifully mature example from Bel Colle based on the north west edge of Barolo between La Morra and Verduno is so approachable and affordable. Lightly spiced aromas, violets, raspberries, dried fruit flavours and silky tannins; delicious with braised meat or mushroom risotto.
Valtellina: VALGELLA CRU LIVEL 2017 Barbacan (13.5%)
£40 Raeburn Fine Wines
Brilliant example of the Chiavennasca grape (aka Nebbiolo) from Barbacan’s oldest vines and highest vineyards (700m). Made by Matteo Sega and his small team who work steep vineyard slopes all by hand in Valgella subzone of little-known Valtellina near the Swiss border. Deep concentrated cherry fruit, woodsmoke, meaty, lovely freshness & long finish; with a long life ahead. Label pictured above.
Sicily: ETNA ROSATO 2018 Tenuta delle Terre Nere (13%)
£16 Justerini & Brooks
From a new estate created by wine afficionado Marco di Grazia. This enchanting rose is from old (25-60 year old) Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio bushvines grown at 900 metres on Etna’s slopes. Fragrant, lively with some tautness, structure, nuttiness and weight making it a rich food-friendly style rose to match with pasta, prosciutto, fish or salami.
ITALIAN SPARKLING ROSE
Lombardy: FRANCIACORTA ROSE 2017 Ferghettina (12.5%)
Sleek packaging, classy Italian fizz; traditional method Pinot Noir-based rose made in a fresh easy drinking style by the Gatti family in Adro in Lombardy within Franciacorta’s zone. Slightly toasty notes, full red berry fruits, pure intense with nutty savoury edge to finish.
Check out Rose’s virtual and in-person tastings for Autumn 2021 in Edinburgh, Glasgow & St Andrews www.rosemurraybrown.com