To celebrate 30 years of trading, UK wine importer Armit is hosting a series of tastings and events. At the first of these Chris Wilson talked to Armit’s head of marketing, Jonathan White, about the importance of Italian wines to the Armit portfolio and how both Italian and Burgundy has picked up in sales where Bordeaux has declined.
We also give tastings notes on 30 Italian wines that stood out at the Italian tasting including from the likes of Gaja, Tenuta San Guido, Bruno Giacosa and Ornellaia
This year marks 30 years since Armit first started trading in the UK and the importer is celebrating its anniversary with customers and trade in 2018 through a series of tastings and events, the first of which was its Italian Collection Tasting at the Institution of Civil Engineers in Westminster.
One Great George Street is a grand building for a grand tasting, and producers including Gaja, Tenuta San Guido and Ornellaia showed some 132 wines in total from the highly-respected Italian list of Armit.
“Italy has always been an important category for Armit Wines, but it has really taken off in the past few years,” Armit’s Head of Marketing Jonathan White told The Buyer.
“Bordeaux’s share of the market has significantly decreased which has benefitted both Italy and Burgundy hugely. We exclusively import many of the leading Italian wines to the UK, so it is and will continue to be a real focus for us in the years to come.”
Armit has worked with many of its Italian producers for decades, building strong working relationships along the way. None of the current crop were on the books 30 years ago, but Armit has worked with Bruno Giacosa and Tenuta San Guido for over 25 years and Ornellaia and Gaja for more than 20 years.
The longevity of relationships like these is very important to Armit, says White. “We encourage curiosity and innovation, focus on doing things differently and are rooted in relationships – some of which are many years old. Italian wines have always been very important to us, and for all of these reasons, they will continue to be too.”
To celebrate 30 years of trading, we’ve taken 30 standout wines from the tasting and written them up in 30 words* to try to offer a snapshot of Armit’s Italian portfolio in 2018.
*give or take, we’re not robots.
Cantine Lunae Albarola 2015
A long and mineral white made from the Albarola grape which offers a seductive creaminess on the palate and a waxy, pithy, lemon peel flavour profile.
Cantine Lunae Vermentino 2017
Capoverso Vin Santo 2001
A weighty sticky with delicious characters of coffee, fig, dried apricot and Brazil nuts. Sweet and unctuous with a flash of acidity at the end to deliver a much needed freshness to balance.
Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia 2015
Tua Rita Rosso dei Notri 2016
Entry-level wine made from the ‘leftover’ grapes from Tua Rita’s more famous wines. Punchy but smooth with ripe red and black berry fruit and earthy and liquorice characters.
Tua Rita Perlato del Bosco Rosso 2014
A lean and lively red from with a strong coastal influence. There’s redcurrant fruit here as well as a seaweed umami and a delicate balsamic vinegar note. Delicious and easy drinking.
Tua Rita Giusto Di Notri 2015
A generous wine which offers bright fruit (plum, blackcurrant) as well as dried herbs, tomato leaf and a black pepper spice. Full and complex but very approachable with it.
Tua Rita Syrah Keir 2016
Just 1,600 bottles of this clay amphorae Syrah is produced. It’s a new wine to the estate and shows an ‘unmasked’ side to Syrah. Pure, clean and salty with a smash of strawberry fruit.
Tua Rita Redigaffi 2015
Ornellaia Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia 2015
The first thing that strikes you is how vegetal and earthy this is. There’s fruit of course (dark, brooding and black), but it’s the savouriness that’s so enthralling and carries the fruit.
Querciabella Camartina 2008
This famous Cabernet-Sangiovese Super Tuscan is some wine. Leather and smoke complexity is balanced by deep, crunchy berry fruit and a stony minerality to create a wine that’s long and lush.
Agricola Punica Samas 2017
This blend of Vermentino (80%) and Chardonnay (20%) from the island of Sardinia is powerful, elegant and beautifully weighted. There’s apricot and almond and Madeira cake, it’s divine.
Agricola Punica Barrua 2013
Pietradolce Etna Bianco 2016
Made from the native Carricante grape, and grown 800m above sea level on the north-facing slopes of Etna, this is a fresh and mineral white with lemon peel, flint and racy acidity.
Tiberio Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2017
Tiberio Fonte Canale 2016
A Trebbiano d’Abruzzo of some weight with characters of lemon, clementine, ginger and wet gravel. There’s some serious and well-focussed acidity here which is tamed by 18 months in tank and bottle before release.
Tenuta Musella Amarone 2012
A blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and Oseleta this is an Amarone that’s deep and bright with dark cherry and dried strawberry notes as well as liquorice and stewed tea.
Castello di Buttrio Sauvignon Blanc 2015
Castello di Buttrio Chardonnay 2015
Long, mineral and more-ish this is a classy and elegant Chardonnay with an abundance of stone fruit, as well as pear and just a smidgen of vanilla ice cream.
Tiefenbrunner Gewurztraminer 2016
From a 170-year-old winery in Alto Adige comes this stunning Gewurtz. It’s rich with raspberry jelly and rose petal characters, brisk acidity and a popping candy prickle.
Tiefenbrunner Feldmarschall von Fenner Muller-Thurgau 2016
Biancavigna Cuvee 1931 Brut NV
A sophisticated sparkling rosé made from Glera and Pinot Noir. With 11 g/L residual sugar there’s enough sweetness here to really bring out the summer fruit and marshmallow characters, but there’s a keen acidity and bold sparkle too.
Gaja Sito Moresco 2015
Is there such a thing as a Super Piemontese? This blend of Nebbiolo, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon certainly looks – and tastes – like one. It’s rich and rewarding with a wave of red and black fruit and a lush, rounded finish.
Gaja Barbaresco 2014
Gaja believes that Nebbiolio needs long ripening time to really shine, making 2014 a near perfect year for its Barbaresco. This is proof; it’s crisp and long with cranberry fruit and delicious red berry acidity.
Gaja Brunello di Montalcino Rennina 2013
This blend of fruit from two prime sites on the Gaja estate is pitch perfect. It’s restrained and linear with perfect integration of fruit (red, bright) and oak (subtle, brooding).
Gaja Brunello di Montalcino Sugarille 2013
Less than 60 cases of Sugarille 2013 were produced. It’s a classy, glossy wine with black fruit, dried herbs and fine tea leaf-tannins. Lovely texture in the mouth and a long, ponderous finish.
Bruno Giacosa Barbaresco Rabajà 2014
The second vintage of this ‘new’ wine made from fruit from a recently acquired half-hectare Rabajà parcel. It’s aromatic and vibrant with plum, black cherry and lavender.
Bruno Giacosa Barolo Falletto 2014
This young Barolo shows great promise. The keen acidity and tight, immediate tannins will mature over time allowing the redcurrant and red cherry fruit, and coffee and dark chocolate characters to shine.
Bruno Giacosa Barolo Le Rocche del Falletto Riserva 2012
Oh my, what a wine to finish the tasting with. This is earthy and ethereal, perfectly balanced with ripe red fruit, black olive and creamy mocha. Such depth and finesse; not for spitting.