The following wines are what stood out for us amongst the medal winners at Decanter’s recent Italian tasting.
First off, labelling the grape variety ‘Shiraz’ – the name for Syrah that is common in Australia but seldom seen in the old world – suggests you are onto something different here. De Vinosalvo is a small Australian-Italian producer in Cigiano, in the heart of Montecucco, combining modern quirkiness with tradition (they also make Sangiovese).
A hallmark of this meaty Shiraz is that it is grown on clayey soils which tend to stay cooler and lead to slower ripening to concentrate the grapes. The result? A bold, complex wine; underneath that savoury, gamey nose lies a beautiful black fruited wine with floral and spicy notes. Stunning.
Quite a ‘dark’ style of Sangiovese, choc full of berry flavours and velvety tannins.
Absolutely delicious! Barbaresco and Barolo – both 100% Nebbiolo and located very close to each other in Piedmont – are often described as ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ respectively when wine commentators are discussing the subtle differences. For me, this wine epitomises feminine: full of silky, seductive, perfumed blackberries. Heady and memorable but not overpowering.
Torre Mora, Scalunera, Etna 2012 90% Nerello Mascalese, 10% Nerello Cappuccio
One sip of this gorgeous wine reminded us that we really should make more of an effort to explore Sicilian wines – and get beyond Planeta and Nero d’Avola! This has more body and concentration than many that I have tasted from Etna. Yes, there’s lots of tangy red fruit, with fresh minerality, but there’s also some plummy vanilla, herbs and spice. Unfortunately I could not locate the producer’s website to enquire about their UK importer.
Aglianico can produce some fascinating wines: dark, chocolatey berries, liquorice and leather. It thrives – almost exclusively – in the south of Italy and the best examples come from volcanic soils in Campagnia and Basilicata. This example is bursting with black cherries, vanilla, tobacco and liquorice.
Another deep, dark wine from the south but this time combining Cabernet Sauvignon with a couple of indigenous varieties. This IGT – or super Tuscan from the south – has a wonderfully floral nose and is teaming with juicy blackberries, damsons and cassis. It’s one of those wow wines from off the beaten track that I’ll be looking out for in the future.
Amarone was the first Italian wine we started to get to know, cue planning holidays to Valpolicella to visit producers…so basically we thought we’d seen it all. How wrong (and complacent) were we? This wine is thrilling, even for Amarone which we find exciting given the addition of dried grapes which produces a very rich – and alcoholic – red wine. On the nose, we thought it smelled like Cabernet Sauvignon – with that blackcurrant leaf tang. On the palate, just wow! There’s lots of concentrated, dried and candied fruit with distinctive coffee notes and that leafy greenness. Very differentiated.