The Definitive Italian Wine Tasting
Every now and again there is a “Definitive Italian Wine Tasting” in London and today I took the chance to visit it and have a look at some of the things on offer. Wines from Puglia, Veneto and Fruili were featured so I stuck to those tables.
White wines were generally rather disappointing – even from Fruili which is really a major white wine area. Few wines reached 3 star status (a very good, even fine wine). Pinot Grigio 2015 and Ribolla Gialla 2014 from Jermann achieved that but then you would have expected them to. Being in price band D (£18-£25) doesn’t make them really good value but the quality is certainly there. Good value, though, is there with two organic and biodynamically produced wines from Visintini, both meriting 3 stars, a pinkish Pinot Grigio 2014 with really good length on the finish and a ripe and fruity Ribolla Gialla 2014. At £11.95 each, they just squeeze into price band B (£8-£12). They would have been considered good value if they were in price band C, so getting into on the price band below makes them exceptionally good value. The top rated white from Fruili was the Broy’ Bianco Collio 2013 from Collavini which scored 3 stars plus for its elegance and complexity with good underlying fruit, but at £27.99 (price band E) there is far better value to be found elsewhere.
The whites from the Veneto were even more disappointing with Inama’s Sauvignon “Vulcaia Fume” 2012 scoring my top mark of 2 stars plus and whilst it showed reasonable length on the finish, there was a decided lack of generosity of fruit. If I had paid the asking price of £30.45 for this wine, I would have been really disappointed with the result. Of the sparkling wines, Bottega Gold Prosecco 2015 in a glitzy gold bottle had both finesse and richness, but even with the rating of 3 stars plus, at £22-£25 a bottle was hardly value. Better value for a tenner was the Scaglietti Prosecco 2015 from Donelli Vini, not as fine but perfectly adequate and at 2 stars plus and in price band B, I know which one I would buy.
I’ll pass over the whites from Puglia, it’s not their forte, but the Minutolo”Rampone” 2014 from I Pastini was interesting, showing good underlying fruit and scored 2 stars plus, but at £14.25 you could probably do better elsewhere for the money. However, the Pugliese do come in to their own with the reds, which have shown remarkable improvements in quality over the recent years. A number of producers are so quality-minded now that they feel it is essential to put their wines into bottles which require a crane to lift! Lucky I went to the gym this morning! There were a goodly number of 3 star wines, the pick of the bunch for value being the Conviviale Primitivo 2015 from Adria Vini – on the light side, but smooth with good length and retailing at £8.50, it’s a steal, particularly as this seems to be the price that Harrods are selling it at, although I haven’t double checked this. Other 3 star wines were Vallone Susumaniello 2015 (beefy) £11.00, I Pastini’s Valle d’Itria Susumaniello “Verosud” 2013 (smooth) £13.50 and Cantine Paradiso Uva di Troia Posta Piano 2014 (fruity) £11.39. The aptly named Brunilde di Menzione Brindisi Riserva 2013 from Schenk Italia (100% Negromaro) £12.59 and the equally aptly named Settebraccia 2014 Negromaro/Susumaniello blend from Cantina Sampietrana £16.00, might have been a bit cheaper if you didn’t need Brünhilde or seven arms to help you pour yourself a glass from the inordinately heavy bottles they were in. Up a grade to 3 star plus were the Brunilde di Menzione Primitivo di Manduria 2015 (£13.50) which had real finesse and the Vindoro Negromaro Salento 2012 (£21.49) from Cantina San Marzano with excellent balanced fruit but a bit pricey. On the cusp of 4 stars is the Primitivo Puglia Posta Piana 2014 from Cantine Paradiso, with good finesse and lots of complexity and at £11.39 is excellent value. The top rated wine on the table (4 stars) goes to the Cubardi Primitivo Salento 2013 from Vitivinicola Schola Sarmenti, a savoury, leathery wine with real elegance and good length and even at £21.95 is still value for the rating.
Fruili’s reds are probably on a par with Puglia’s whites but there are always exceptions. The indigenous Schioppettino grape can produce great wines though. The Schioppettino di Prepotto 2011 from Vigna Traverso (£17.95) was seriously dense and complex, but still much dominated by oak. I rated it 3 stars but would have given it more if I wasn’t worried whether the fruit would dry out before the tannins. I did give more (3 stars plus) to the Schioppettino 2012 from Sdricca which had nice tangy fruit and a long finish and at £9.86, almost half the price of the Prepotto, would seem to be the better bet.
In the Veneto, it’s Valpolicella and Amarone which hold sway here. 3 stars were awarded to Prá Morandina Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2014 (fruity) £20.00, Valpolicella Superiore 2014 Cantine Lenotti (weighty) £12.00 and Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 2014 from Brigaldara (smooth) at £17.37. A step up on them (3 stars plus) is the Monte Zovo Valpolicella 2014 from Cottini (smoother) at £20.00 and on the cusp of 4 stars is the Villa Annaberta Amarone 2013 from Cottini at £18.00 – a good combination of fruit and finesse. Getting 4 stars itself is the Amarone Costasera Classico 2011 from Masi – good finesse, too but at £46.00 is not good value. The top scoring wine of the day for me was the Monte Zovo Amarone 2011 from Cottini, balanced, complex and complete. I gave it 4 stars plus and at £20.00 it’s a bargain. Amarones can be clumsy but you cannot level this against any of the three mentioned here.