Piedmont and Tuscany will always command the most attention when it comes to putting an Italian wine on your list – these are ‘must haves’ – but Campania, Sardinia, Veneto and Alto Adige are regions that also feature wines of stunning quality that can be a fraction of the price. Peter Dean picks out seven red wines from Enotria&Coe’s extensive Italian portfolio which features wines from all seven of these regions.
With no Vinitaly this year, Enotria&Coe had an imaginative trade campaign called La Dolce Vite where it sent out a 12-pack of assorted wines handpicked for the hospitality sector. In this feature we concentrate on the reds.
Vigna Machia dei Goti Taurasi, 2016, Cantine Antonio Caggiano
Sometimes referred to as the ‘Barolo of the South’ this is a 100% Aglianico from Campania, that is rich, intense but has an elegance quite unlike most Aglianico I have tried. The wine is aged in French barriques for 18 months, then aged in bottle for another 18 months before release, which is where the finesse and roundness on the palate is coming from.
Deep, opaque purple; attractive fruity and floral nose, fruits of the forest, cranberry with hints of liquorice and vanilla pod, black pepper, anise; on the palate the wine is intense, complex with lovely mix of wild, red and black fruit, balsamic, liquorice; the mouthfeel is quite tense, precise, fine but slightly austere tannins, medium-weight, dry. Very impressive, long finish. Can be drunk solus but with pasta and risotto, or wild boar salami as a starter would be perfect.
Cantina Santadi ‘Terre Brune’ Carignano del Sulcis Superiorie 2016
I don’t try a lot of wines from Sardinia but after this excellent Carignan-dominant wine (there is 5% Bovaleddu in the blend) I’ll make a point of looking them out. To look at it’s light ruby; the nose is light, refined, a little bit smoky, cocoa; on the palate it is light-medium weight, intense, spicy, black fruit (blackberry crumble), tar, with tightly focused acidity, ripe, rounded tannins. The wine has a punch, a lot of flavour (although nowhere near as much as you might expect from a 15% abv wine) but it is elegant too and there is a lovely balance. The fruit was fermented on the skins, then had 15-16 days of maceration, after malo the wine is transferred into new French barriques and aged for 16-18 months – the wood adding texture mainly. An interesting alternative to a classy Nebiolo.
St. Magdalener Schiava 2019, Schreckbichl Colterenzio
From the co-op Schreckbichl Colterenzio, which is also the name of the hamlet where the winery is located. It is 95% Schiava with 5% Lagrein (normally grown together) from warm, south-easterly vineyards in the St Magdalener sub-region of Alto Adige, the fruit is fermented on skins, bit of malo and then four months in concrete. The finished wine is a light red (13%), perfumed, notes of red berries, red plums, violets; the medium-weight palate is dry, elegant with soft, spicy tannins, there is a bitter almond note on the finish. Nice interplay between the youth/ freshness and the velvety mouth-feel, almost a New World Pinot Noir quality to it. We paired it with tomato-heavy lasagne which was not the best match – I would have it on its own or slightly chilled with charcuterie – speck or parma ham. Trade price is a mouth-watering £10.65 from Enotria&Coe.
Barbaresco Bordini, 2017, La Spinetta
One of the iconic single vineyard Barbarescos that is made to be versatile, either for early drinking or many years hence. 100% Nebbiolo from the Bordini site, 270m high in the village of Neive in the Barbaresco production zone. It’s a four hectare south-facing site on calcareous soils, and the vines have an average age of between 26 and 29 years. The site is sustainably farmed with no use of chemical herbicides or pesticides.
The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation, and is then aged between 20 and 22 months, 50% in new and 50% in one-year-old medium-toasted French oak. It then spends three months in steel before being bottled for a further 12 months, no filtration or clarifying.
Light, almost see-through cherry red/ russet; the nose is fascinating mix of red berry fruit (raspberry, wild strawberry), red rose petals, marzipan, and a savoury quality (leather) and toasty; the wine is light-to-medium, very elegant but with big, young, broad tannins that begs for a meat dish or one with a meat or tomato sauce. A complex wine, with real presence and tightly woven structure but not overly intense or concentrated. In a bit of an austere place right now, I’d lay it down for a year or two – if you can keep your hands off it
Catullo Valpolicella Ripasso Classico, 2016, Bertani
Established in the Nineteenth century, Bertani has a long, illustrious history. This classic Valpolicella Ripasso is a blend of 85% Corvina with Merlot and Rondinella, ‘Ripasso’ meaning that the wine undergoes a second fermentation in March on the skins of the Amarone grapes that are still slightly sweet. The wine is then matured for a year in 75 hectolitre barrels, for a year in concrete vats and then six months in bottle before release.
Very light, see-through ruby red; elegant, enticing nose of red cherry, dark chocolate, kirsch, tobacco and white pepper; Medium weight on the palate and richer than you might expect from the light colour, the wine is fresh, tense, with silky tannins, and a long persistent finish, a nice balance and interesting juxtaposition between ripe red cherry and high acidity.
Maremma Rosso Toscana, 2018, Brancaia
This is a new cuvée from Casa Brancaia, which encompasses the two estates of Brancaia and Poppi. Owned by a Swiss couple, Brigitte and Brundo Widmer since 1981, Brancaia announced itself two years later when it won first place in a Chianti Classico tasting.
This is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that has been fermented on the skins at 28°C for 25 days, the wine goes through malo before maturing in 50% new 50% used oak for 18 months. The wine is then aged for a year in bottle after light filtration.
Light to medium ruby; fascinating aromas of blackberry, prune, cocoa powder with wisps of smoke; the palate is light-medium, open, accessible with ripe, silky tannins; the black fruit is concentrated – cassis, black cherry – there is a smokiness that carries over to the palate, and the finish is dry, clipped and slightly tart. Really liked this a lot – worked perfectly paired with noisettes of veal and rigatoni in a mushroom sauce.
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2017, Poliziano
This is the flagship wine from one of the country’s leading exponents of Montepulciano, a blend of 85% Sangiovese, the rest made up of Colorino, Canaiolo and Merlot. Fermented in steel with skin contact at a maximum temperature of 32°C for 10-18 days, the wine is then aged in oak for two years, one third in barriques, the rest in a variety of larger formats, after bottling the wine is aged for 6-8 months before release.
Black cherry in colour with blood-red edging; attractive nose of cherry and plum, pinch of baking spice; medium weight, flavours of juicy red cherry, blue plum skin and sour cherry, there is an intensity to the wine, heightened acidity, polished and firm tannins, an attractive bite of blood orange flesh on the well-balanced finish; elegant but also quite broody.
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