Trying to understand the wines of Italy usually results in head slaps and eye rolls. With over 500 grapes currently grown, it can be a confusing and challenging journey ~ especially when you try to go it alone. Demistify your Italian wine knowledge by drinking these six reds. From the head to toe of Italy, this six pack was carefully put together by two of our key staff, Lachlan and Bengt ~ both freshly returned from Italia. A step above ‘pizza wines’, brace yourself for a journey through Alto-Adige, Lombardy, Veneto, Tuscany, Campania and Sicily!
2017 Erste + Neue Kalterersee Schiava, Alto-Adige $31
While Alto-Adige is famed for its whites, dig a little deeper and you’ll find the red. The ancient schiava (skyah-vah) grape is one of the most intriguing. It’s energetic and bright with just the right touch of tannin and structure. Pair it with goulash and polenta, hauswurst sausage or a delicious vegetarian strangolapreti (the translation is not so PC). This bilingual region is full of delicious culinary choices!
2016 Sandro Fay Costa Bassa Chiavennasca (Nebbiolo), Lombardy $50
If you’re new to Italian wine, nebbiolo from its spiritual home of Piedmont can seem brutish ~ waves of tannin, acid and savoury flavours. Sidestep into Lombardy, the historic alpine gateway of the Valtellina, and you will find delicate wines from chiavennasca (aka nebbiolo). This mountainous northerly clutch is home to Sandro Fay, and they are amongst the best! In the hands of Fay, pretty, fragrant and detailed wines evolve from these rugged, dramatic landscapes.
2015 Zenato Alanera, Corvina blend, Veneto, Italy $31
As well as being the largest wine producing region, Veneto is also home to some unique styles. Take, for example, the appassimento technique ~ the grapes are left to dry for a fortnight on small racks to increase their concentration ~ before fermenting. This refreshing corvina blend adopts short version of this technique. It is packed with lots of spice over velvet black fruits, signing off with long grippy tannins.
2015 Altesino Rosso di Montalcino, Sangiovese, Tuscany, Italy $50
Fervent excitement abounds around the younger and bolder Tuscan region of Montalcino. This sangiovese comes largely from the famed northern section of the Montalcino zone. Sour cherries lightly wrapped in fine elegant tannin with great persistence of flavour. It should be a poster child for the region!
2016 Feudi di San Gregorio Rubrato Irpinia Aglianico, Campania, Italy $45
The volcanic soils of Campania are highly praised for growing grapes (both white and red) with nerve and texture. The local red grape, aglianico (al-yan-i-koh) makes powerful reds of density, structure – and balance! Not an easy feat given this grape’s naturally high tannin levels. Despite the stifling heat of Campania, the grapes for this wine are picked late into vintage. A result of the combination of soil type, altitude, and aglianico’s natural obstinacy!
2017 Feudo Montoni Nero d’Avola, Sicily $41
A world away from gritty Palermo lies Feudo Montoni. This self-contained hamlet appears dreamlike ~ unexpected in the highlands of wind turbines in the Sicilian interior. Here the indigenous nero d’avola grapes express their land with poise and clarity. Its long history in this special place gives distinct and elegant wines of earthy dark ripe fruit and fine chewy tannin.
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