This is the final roundup of wines that we’ll be seeking to buy following Decanter’s recent Italian tasting in London.
Other than the odd bottle of Primitivo – and Aglianico at good (trusted!) Italian restaurants – we don’t drink much wine from southern Italy. To be honest, we hadn’t been inspired by any Sangiovese we’d tried from Emilia Romagna during a week’s stay in Bologna, for example, and other communes. And as much as we’ve tried to embrace it, we’ve not found a Montepulciano from Abruzzo that we’d buy again (recommendations please!).
Thankfully we were eating (drinking) our words at this tasting. The examples from the east side of Italy, in particular, were impressive. We’ve subsequently ordered a couple of the Farnese wines from Wine Direct and are trying to hunt down the others. But most importantly, we are feeling inspired to recommence our short-lived and pretty dismissive foray into these lesser known wine producing regions.
Farnese – slowly transitioning to the label ‘Fantini’ – is a brand prevalent all over south Italy – Abruzzo, Campagnia, Puglia and Sicily. Joint ventures with local grape growers have been integral to the company’s success. Pretty much all of the wines they selected to exhibit were pretty outstanding in our opinion.
Incredible value (around £8 a bottle), this is full of rich, ripe redcurrants and raspberries with a lick of vanilla. Gorgeous every day drinking wine, more sumptuous and fuller bodied than Sangiovese typically found in Chianti.
- Edizione Cinque Autoctoni, Abruzzo 2014 33% Montepulciano, 33% Primitivo, 12% Malvasia Nera, 11% Negromaro, 11% Sangiovese
What a great wine to showcase southern Italian varieties (although purists might be frowning). It’s supple and fruity, but with plenty of (gentle) tannic structure. There’s lots of berries and damsons with fresh red cherries before the sweet spicy notes, along with a touch of mocca and liquorice, kick in.
The addition of Nero d’Avola – one of Sicily’s most important red grapes – enriches this beautiful full-bodied wine. Plums, black cherries, spice and tobacco but kind of elegant at the same time thanks to the Nerello Mascalese. Note, the link is for the producer’s 100% Nerello Mascalese, as I could not find this exact wine.
I love a good Primitivo, which is basically Zinfandel, and even better value. Easy drinking, but complex, this one consists of layers of baked black fruit, fresh figs, dried herbs and that archetypal hint of coffee and vanilla. Lovely long finish.
Founded in 1929, Poderi dal Nespoli is located in the Bidente valley, south east of Bologna. Linking the Appenines – the backbone of mountains between Romagna and Tuscany – with the Adriatic coast, the Bidente valley enjoys a special micro-climate very suited for growing grapes.
This was one of my favourite wines of the day, possibly because it’s the best wine I have had from Emilia Romagna (why couldn’t we find anything like this when we visited the region?!) and was so unexpected amongst the Super Tuscans and Brunellos! Ripe cherries and smoky blackberries with subtle vanilla and tobacco.
Heading further south, we discovered that Masciarelli is the go-to name for Abruzzo wines. Indeed, the winery was created with the mission of turning local grapes such as Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Trebbiano d’Abruzzo into international stars. We only tasted one of their wines as it was right at the end of the day when supplies were running low. Colline Teramane is the only part of Abruzzo that has been awarded the prestigious DOCG status; wines need to contain at least 90% Montepulciano with a maximum of 10% Sangiovese.
Fresh velvety red berries, blackberries and hints of dried herbs, violets and sweet spice mingle with firm but perfectly integrated tannins. This sumptuous concentrated wine can age for 20 years apparently!