Vinitaly is the key date in the diary for all those in the trade responsible for buying and selling Italian wine. But with the Verona-based fair cancelled this year, Enotria&Coe decided to celebrate La Dolce Vite in the only way it could – sending a case of their best Italian wines to key personnel with a mini film of each producer introducing their wines.
The La Dolce Vite ‘ liquid passport’ featured 12 wines from 9 regions. In this post we look at the white and sparkling.
Under the guidance of Italian buying director Sergio De Luca, Enotria&Coe has an enviable portfolio of Italian wine estates, with some of the most established wineries featuring some of the hottest winemaking Italian talent. In these bizarre times it was a masterstroke to have 12 of these new vintage wines delivered to the door and, like many wine tasters during Lockdown and beyond, it has been such a pleasure to really take one’s time over tasting new wines, rather than having to chase through them at a tasting event. And, like many others I suspect, whenever I drink a good bottle of Italian wine I always ask myself the same (rhetorical) question “Do I own enough Italian wine?”
Vinnae Ribolla Gialla, 2019, Jermann
From one of the first exponents of cult Italian whites in the North-East Italian region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia, this refreshing, zesty dry white uses indigenous 90% Ribolla Gialla grapes, blended with 5% each of Malvasia and Riesling to pay homage to the Jermann’s Austrian and Slovenian roots, the family only arriving in the Italian-speaking part of the empire in 1881. The two headed eagle on the wine’s label, the crest of the Austro-Hungarian empire, is another homage.
One the nose it could be mistaken for a young, fresh Viognier or Gewürztraminer even, and on the palate it has bright, piercing acidity that is fresh, youthful and mineral-driven. The grapes are lightly-pressed, steel fermented and then part-aged in large format Slovenian oak for six months, although that is for textural purposes only – the purity feels unoaked in style.
Very light straw-gold; gorgeous, pretty nose of orange skin and white blossom; the palate is light-mid weight with an interesting balance between laser-like purity of fruit and acidity, with a complex, depth of fruit flavours. Elegant, tasty, exciting and packs quite a punch for a 12.5% abv wine. I would consider decanting it for half an hour before serving, either as an aperitif or with food.
San Vincenzo 2019, Anselmi
I liked this individual, generous blend of Garganega, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from high elevated, volcanic/ calcareous soils of Soave and Monteforte d’Alpone, but I suspect it could be a bit of a Marmite wine – as it was in my house. What I liked was that, in terms of varietals, it does exactly ‘what is says on the tin’ and you can smell and taste each component, as well as enjoy the pretty unique blend, producing more than the sum of its parts.
The wine clearly has mineral soil behind it, it has also rested on its lees for six months with natural yeasts giving it good weight mid-palate.
Mid-straw gold; the predominant fruit is white peaches on the nose but there is a strong savoury (slightly oxidised?) note that is like hazelnut shells, cashews and pot pouri; the palate is mid-weight, textural, round, soft with plenty of stone fruit, tinned peach, slightly tart pineapple, toasted almonds and candied fruit. The E&C price is £12.29 which gives it plenty of possibilities in the on-trade.
San Sisto Verdicchio dei Castelli de Jesi Classico Riserva DOCG, 2017, Fazi Battaglia
And who thought that Burgudy’s wine labels and appelations were complicated?! This is a top tier Verdicchio, and a Tre Bicchieri winner from Gambero Rosso that is only made in outstanding vintages. It comes from the masters of the Marche, Fazi Battaglia who, since 1949 have been investing time in the 30 hectares of North-East facing vineyards 350m up on pure clay soils. Fermented in small format oak and then aged for a further 10-12 months and released after a year in bottle, this is a Burgundian style of Verdicchio – one of Italy’s best white grapes, grown in one of its favourite terroirs.
Mid-gold, shiny and inviting; the nose has citrus and a distinctive wild fennel note, veering towards liquorice; the palate is mid-weight, perfectly balanced with a richness of fruit built around a tight, spine of acidity and zesty citrus, there is a nice creaminess there, complexity (salted pistachios), apples, chalky minerality; the length goes on pretty much forever, finishing with the simple desire of having more. This wine simply oozes class and at a retail price of £23.50 is top value
Etna Bianco, 2018, Planeta
Planeta has been a hugely influential agricultural family for five centuries and, when they branched out into winemaking as recently as the 1980s, the group has been instrumental in maintaining traditions and introducing wine lovers the world over as much to local grape varieties such as Nero d’Avola and Carricante as it has to international varieties, particularly their own special brand of Chardonnay.
This Etna Bianco is 100% Carricante grown on rich, powdery volcanic soil terraces 900m up in the heart of the Etna wine region. After a light pressing and cold ferment, the wine stays on its lees for six months, 15% of the wine is fermented in a barriques with a mix of steel and barriques used for maturing.
Light, shiny gold; appealingly perfumed and complex nose revealing layers of mandarin zest, lemon blossom, yellow plum, aniseed and crushed rocks; the palate offers crisp acidity, tart apple, Sicilian lemon zest, mineral, saline, a twist of wild mint; the wine is light to mid-weight, but really taut and linear, pure and fresh, with the small percentage of wood used, adding depth mid-palate and a little richness to slightly temper the bright acidity. We paired it with pan-fried cod which is what Planeta recommends, albeit with a rich sauce. As a food wine this will cut through, and balance most fish and white meat dishes.
Alta Langa Millesimato Pas Dose, 2014, Contratto
Founded in 1867, Contratto is Italy’s oldest Metodo Classico producer, boasting massive underground cellars and 45 hectares of vines, some of which are 850m above sea level. In 2011 Giorgio Rivetti of La Spinetta acquired Contratto, adding sparkling wines, bitters and vermouths to his range of Barbaresco and Barolo.
The Millesimato Pas Dose is a blend of 80% Pinot Nero and Chardonnay; only the free-run juice is used, once fermented the wine is then aged until May, before being blended and bottled for the second fermentation. The wine is then aged on lees for another four years before release.
To taste, the Millesimato Pas Dose has as much elegance and finesse as the bottle’s distinctive Art Deco label. It is straw yellow in colour with a fine persistent bead; on the nose there are notes of white flowers, green apple; on the palate the wine is medium-weight with a creamy mouthfeel and keen bite of acidity; flavours include peach, apricot, dried fruit, fresh almond and green apple. All in all it’s a wine that punches well above its weight.
Next week we continue our tour with seven classic reds
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