Helen Coburn looks at the quality of Italian wines available on the Irish market
Jun 15 2012
Sicily's Jose Rallo, producer of Donnafugate Scherezade
Italian offerings in the retail trade are still not what they might be, with supermarkets often drawing much of their selection from large transregional producers. The independents are a better, with importers such as Cassidy’s, Febvre, Comans and Libertys now supplying a range of classic wines from smaller estates, although often at premium price points. A recent tasting by Libertys showed almost 100 Italian wines and there were several gems. One was Lamadoro, a Puglian white from malvasia, bombino and chardonnay which had tasty, succulent fruit and was worth its €11.99 retail price. Pricier, but an elegant classic, was Villa Bucci Verdicchio di Castelli dei Jesi 2010 (€18). It had excellent intensity and length with tasty grapefruit flavours. Pieropan Soave 2010 (€18) was actually quite reasonably priced for what you got - tasty citrus and green fruit and very good length. It would be lovely with a special fish dinner.
Among reds, the Sardinian Scuro Cannoneau di Sardegna 2010 (€14.99) was tasty and well made. If you like Lebanese wine you’d love this - hardly surprising as cannoneau is actually another name for grenache, a grape much used in Lebanon. Fontodi Chianti Classico 2008 (€24) comes from one of Italy’s most respected makers; it will cost you, but it’s great special occasion wine. Another fashionable maker, this time from Sicily, is Donnafugata, and its Scherazade 2010 (€15), from local grape nero d’avola, is hearty stuff, perfect with beef.
An Italian vineyard
Pipoli Aglianico del Vulture 2010 €12.99) comes from Basilicata and is made from aglianico, one of Italy’s most beguiling red varieties. A naturally lightish hued wine, with soft cherry flavours, its alcohol rarely runs too high and even basic bottles tend to age well. Some modern makers have been tempted to over extract and over oak aglianico, thus covering up its subtle flavours. Pipoli comes from one of Basilicata’s best co-ops where winemaking tends to be traditional. A little less concentrated than some vintages, if you’ve never sampled aglianico, it’s still worth a try.