Showing posts with label Karwig. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Karwig. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Italian Wines From Recent Tastings. A Short List Of Favourites!



Italian Wines From Recent Tastings. 
A Short List Of Favourites!

With a little help from the recently published The Modern History of Italian Wine, we have been tasting our way through quite a few wines from the peninsula and its islands. Such a range of terroirs, such a range of wines from the cool foothills of the Alps to the heat of Puglia out to the hot islands with their cooling breezes. You won't find the very expensive classics here but I think the selection below contains some excellent wines at reasonable prices. And they all are readily available in Ireland. Just click on the links for review, supplier and price details and don't forget to come back here. Enjoy.


Red
Cantina Tollo Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (DOP) Bio 2015
Innocenti Rosso di Montepulciano (DOC) 2012
La Vigne di Sammarco Salice Salentino (DOP) 2014
La Vigne di Sammarco Primitivo di Manduria (DOP) 2015
Ciabot Berton Barolo (DOCG) “La Morra” 2011
Luigi Righetti Amarone della Valpolicella (DOCG) Classico 2012
Terrabianca Scassino Chianti Classico (DOCG)
Carminucci Naumakos Rosso Piceno Superiore (DOC) 2013
Fontanafredda Raimonda, Barbera D’Alba (DOC) 2009

Orange
La Stoppa, Ageno, Emilia, Emilia Romagna, Italy, 2011


White
Pighin Pinot Grigio Grave del Friuli (DOC) 2015
Cantina Sociale Gallura Vermentino di Gallura Superiore (DOCG) Gemellae, 2013
Carminucci Naumakos Falerio (DOC) 2015, 12.5%
Colle Stephano Verdicchio di Matelica (DOC) 2015
Terredora Di Paolo “Loggia Della Serra” Greco di Tufo (DOCG) 2015
Colutta Pinot Grigio Friuli Colli Orientali (DOC), 2015
Les Crêtes Petite Arvine Valle D’Aosta (DOP) 2012

Dessert
Masi Angelorum Recioto della Valpolicella Classico (DOC) 2012

Context: The Modern History of Italian Wine

 See the posts from the Italian series:

Pighin's "Grave wines are bargains". Good too!

Puglia: Cool Wines From The Hot Heel Of Italy.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Velenosi of the Marche

When Angela Piotti Velenosi and her husband founded their winery in 1984, cooperative wineries and bulk wine reigned in her local area of the Marches and Piceno. They started with just five hectares. Three decades later, the vineyards stretch to 105 hectares and produce 2.5 millions bottles, “of which a large share is exported to five continents”. Quite a lot it makes its way here to Ireland and Karwigs have quite a selection.

Velenosi Villa Angela Passerina, Marche (IGT) 2013, 12.5%, €16.70 Karwig Wines
Passerina, according to Wikipedia, is both a rare local white grape that is found in the Marche and a DOC for wines of the same name. It has large berries, high yields and a long ripening period. It makes appealing wines with clear, focused fruit.

Not a bad summation at all of this Highly Recommended wine. It has a rather rich straw colour. And there’s a mix of fruity and floral notes in the intense aromas. The palate is soft and fresh. Acidity is excellent and the finish is persistent.

Velenosi Brecciarolo Gold Rosso Piceno (DOC) Superiore 2012, 13.5%, €20.95 Karwig Wines

This is a blend of Montepulciano (mainly, c. 70%) and Sangiovese, It has been matured for c.24 months in new barrels.  Brecciarolo refers to broken stones, typical of soil in the area.

The colour is violet and the aromas (mainly of red fruit, especially cherries) are pretty intense. No shortage of strong flavours, spice is pretty prominent too, a refreshing acidity and it finishes well too. Warm, soft and harmonious, well balanced. Highly Recommended.

Velenosi Brecciarolo Rosso Piceno (DOC) Superiore 2014, 13.5%, €16.50 Karwig Wines

Just like the Gold, this is a blend of Montepulciano (70%) and Sangiovese. After fermentation, the wine “is channelled into second-fill barriques where wines for the production of Roggio and Ludi had been kept the previous year.

Colour is ruby with tints of garnet. There are rather intense red fruit aromas and a little vanilla there too. Warm and juicy on the palate, the red fruit flavours are well delivered, some spice too. One of those mouth-friendly wines, easy drinking, easy to like and Highly Recommended.

* By the way, Velenosi produce quite a range, including a delicious sweet wine. It is a favourite in this house and you may check it out here.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Barolo and Amarone. Two Italians Worth Meeting

Venice
Barolo and Amarone. Two Italians Worth Meeting
A good few years back, a mixed nationality group of tourists, including yours truly, were slowly making our way across Italy. There were a few Australians in the party - they were mainly beer-drinkers (stubbies rather than stickies) but included one winemaker - and their conversation regularly featured the word Barolo. It seemed like a holy grail to them. Later I would find out why! Perhaps they also mentioned Amarone but I can't recall. These two wines from the north of Italy are well worth getting to know!


Ciabot Berton Barolo (DOCG) “La Morra” 2011, 14.5%, €32.95 Le Caveau
Nebbiolo is regarded as native to the Piedmont region and produces some of Italy's “most uniquely perfumed and powerful reds”. Since early days, one of those wines, Barolo, was referred to as the “king of wines, the wine of kings”. This La Morra is a right royal example.

It comes from a prestigious and historical cru. The winemaking is “fairly” traditional. The 100 per cent Nebbiolo is aged 18 months in 25 hl Slavonian oak casks (useful for stabilising and harmonising) and then 6 months in steel vats before bottling.

According to Vino Italiano: “…. the top wines in the DOCG are said to hail from the communes of Monteforte d’Alba, Serralunga d’Alba, Castiglione Falletto, Barolo and La Morra.” The hilly land concerned lies generally to the south-west of Alba and much of it is a protected World Heritage site since 2014.


This gorgeous light red wine has aromas of blackberry in Autumn, gentle hints of cherry too, plus floral notes. On the palate it is smooth round and rich, some spice too. Concentrated and elegant, perfumed and powerful. The excellent acidity heralds a long, fresh finish, a finish as satisfying as all that goes before. Very Highly Recommended.

Luigi Righetti Amarone della Valpolicella (DOCG) Classico 2012, 15%, €25.95 Karwig Wines

Amarone, some of you will know, is a style, not a grape and the style was developed in the area of Valpolicella where local wine-makers searched for a way to increase the body, complexity and alcohol content of their wines, made generally from Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara fruits. Amarone della Valpolicella is an intensely flavoured dry red wine made from dried grapes. 

Righetti may not always feature in the lists of top wine-makers here but his is a good one; you may take a certain confidence from the G in the DOCG. Colour is a deep ruby red. The complex nose features oodles of dried red fruit. It is rich and dry with concentrated flavour - the alcohol is also high; some spice too and a noticeable tartness, all characteristics carried through to the finalé. Very enjoyable wine and Very Highly Recommended.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Three Wines. And a few beers!

Three Wines. And a few beers!
Valdivia Dorius Amontillado seco sherry, Jerez (DO), 18%, €17.85 (50cls) Karwig Wines.

This dry amontillado is the perfect match for meat dishes and mature cheese and vanished very quickly here, where it was used as an aperitif - so quickly, I didn't have time to take any notes. 

To get the best from its generous aromas and flavours, serve it at between 12 and 14 degrees. It has lovely amber colour, a rich almond nose, a nutty and tangy flavour and the superb finish goes on and on. And you can get all this from just one little sip. Very Highly Recommended. Enjoy, with all five senses, as they invite on the bottle.

Exquisite Collection Cremant du Jura (AOP) Chardonnay 2014, 12%, €11.29 Aldi

Had to pick up a sparkling wine in a hurry and got this Brut (dry) in at the local Aldi. A few hours later, I was very impressed with it. This sparkling Chardonnay, made using the same methods as they use in making champagne, was perfect for our little celebration. It is not lacking in complexity, has light fruit flavours, a hint of biscuit (that you find in champagnes), and a fine finish. Good price too. Very Highly Recommended.


Barefoot Merlot (California), 13.5%, €10.00 O’Donovan’s Off Licence
“Wine tastes better in a tee than in a tux”, Barefoot say. So you’re thinking cheap and cheerful, nothing wrong with that and nothing wrong with this Merlot either.  This is smooth and warming, full of raspberry and blackberry flavours, mild tannins, well balanced too and with a decent finish. It is an easy-drinker and good value. 

Beer Bullets

Cloudwater Session IPA Wai-iti 4.5%
Thought this was an American brewery but they are from Manchester. Brexit or not, this is an excellent beer, a superb IPA. You’ll get hoppier but the balance here is spot-on and as a result, the beer is well worth a try. You may not get it in Old Trafford or The Etihad but you’ll certainly find a bottle in Bradley’s.

St Bernardus Wit, 5.5%, 

St Bernardus has quite a smile and his abbey beers deliver every time. As they do with this perfect wheat beer. This traditional Belgian wheat beer is more or less a perfect example of the type, with clove notes, very refreshing, your perfect thirst quencher. Thirsty? Bradley’s have this answer.

St Bernardus Abt 12, 10%
Another big delivery from the Belgians, the big here referring to the alcohol at 10%. Not a big worry though; the beer is perfectly balanced between malty, bitter and sweet. It has fruity aromas, is full bodied with a hoppy touch on the finish.


They say: It is the pride of our stable, the nec plus ultra of our brewery. Abbey ale brewed in the classic 'Quadrupel' style of Belgium's best Abbey Ales.  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Pighin's "Grave wines are bargains". Good too!

Pighin's "Grave wines are bargains". Good too!


Vino Italiano (2005) sums up Pighin: A large estate with holdings in both the Grave and Collio DOCs. There are some decent wines in the bunch, and the Grave wines are bargains.

They have proved innovative wine-makers and built the first Italian example of an insulated winery. No water wasted here; the terrace roof is irrigated with well water which contributes to cooling down the spaces before returning down to where it came from. See the Modern History Of Italian Wine (2016) for more.

Grave is named, in much the same way as its Bordeaux namesake, after its gravelly soil. The Pighin family were in haulage when they took 30 hectares of Risano in 1964 and their drive for quality started then and continues. 

Their piece of Grave is considered superior for its wines, leading to varietal intensity and aromatic complexity. Pinot Grigio is king here and this below is a right royal example below.

Pighin Pinot Grigio Grave del Friuli (DOC) 2015, 12.5%, €17.75 Karwig Wines
The colour is a straw yellow, micro bubbles noticeable. The complex aromas speak of white fruits, hints of blossom too. On the palate, it is smooth and noticeably supple, superbly balanced and with a persistent finish. Nothing watery or weak about it; just a full bodied example of the grape and Very Highly Recommended.

Pighin Risano blanco Venezia Giulia (IGT) 2013, 12.5%, €14.85 Karwig Wines
The grapes used in this white are Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon, plus autochthonous (i.e. indigenous) varieties of Friuli-Venezia Giulia. They come from the vineyard of Risano where “Hot, breezy summers, rigorous winters and average rainfall create particularly favourable conditions”.


This very light straw coloured wine has attractive, if modest, floral aromas. That gentleness continues and combined with the freshness of the palate makes it an ideal aperitif. Good acidity should see it pair well with the recommended salads and light summery offerings. A very pleasant wine indeed and Recommended and good value, especially if you have a gang coming to visit.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

In the heart of Chianti

In the heart of Chianti

If Tuscany is the centre of the Italian Wine Universe (as declared by Vino Italiano) then Chianti Classico is its heart. Chianti itself is a vast area in Tuscany with Pisa and Siena among its best known cities. Chianti Classico DOCG, situated on the hills between Florence and Siena, is tiny by comparison.

Hugh Johnson, writing in The Finest Wines of Tuscany (2009),  says the revolution of Tuscan wines began over 40 years ago and is still on-going. “It is the New World within the Old, questioning, experimenting all the time, with ever-rising standards.”  Looks like there is a lot more to this story.

Sangiovese is central Italy’s most important red grape and the main grape in Chianti where Grapes and Wines note Terrabianca as one of the top producers. It is also the base of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino and Morellino di Scansano.


Terrabianca Scassino Chianti Classico (DOCG), 13.5%, €22.70 Karwig Wines

The estate is ancient (mentioned as far back as 1085) but Roberto and Maja Guldener started here only in 1988. Now, after much hard work, some of their wines, including this one, are well-known in “many countries all over the world”. Not bad going for a couple that left the city (Zurich) to live in the countryside.

The blend is 97% Sangiovese with 3% Canaiolo. It has spent 8 months in Slovenian oak and three months in bottle before release.

It is a vibrant cherry red, clear and bright. The inviting aromas are a mix of fruit (led by raspberry and cherry). It is fresh and supple, with moderate spice, fine tannins, a really pleasant experience on the palate, a well made Chianti, with typical fragrance and fruit, with a firm backbone and a long lasting finish. Very Highly Recommended.



Fattoria di Rodáno Chianti Classico (DOCG) 2011, 14.5%, €20.45 Le Caveau

This blend of 90% Sangiovese and five per cent each of Colorino (with its deep dark colouring) and Canaiolo (also used in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano) is produced by the Pozzesi family on an organically run hill-top vineyard in Tuscany. It is oak-aged in large Slovenian botti di rovere but this is really “little more than a seasoning”.

Colour is a bright cherry red and ripe red and darker fruits are prominent in the aromas. Flavours of plum and cherry are found on the palate of this medium bodied wine, spice too. Tannins though rounded are still a factor and even more so is the typical mouth-watering acidity. The elegant finish persists. This impeccably balanced wine is Highly Recommended.

See also (from my current Italian mini-series):


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fontanafredda, important player in Italian wine. Three examples.

Fontanafredda: important player in Italian wine. Three examples.

The Modern History of Italian Wine (2016), to which we'll be referring often over the next few months, picks Fontanafredda, renowned for decades for its Barolo, as a key player in Italy's wine industry. The important company now produces some 7.5m bottles a year and you can find quite a few of its products, including the Barolos, in Karwig Wines. Below are just three examples. 

Fontanafredda Raimonda, Barbera D’Alba (DOC) 2009, 14%, €21.15 Karwig Wines


In 1858, an area close to the village of Serralunga D’Alba was registered to the King Vittorio Emanuele II. Here he indulged his passion with the commoner daughter of a drum major and it was eventually their son Emanuele Guerrieri, Count of Mirafiore, who devoted his life to making wine here, “with a very modern approach”.

Success with Barolo followed later but, after war and economic strife, the banks took over in 1931 and appointed a winemaker to take charge. In recent years, the property passed to Oscar Farinetti, “another visionary” according to the recently published Modern History of Italian wine, “who revitalized its sale and the commercial image of the brand”. 

Dressed with the colours of the estate, the Stripes series “is the central line of production by Fontanafredda”. And the Barbera for this striped bottle is grown around Serralunga.

Part of the wine is aged in large French and Slavonian oak casks, the rest stored in small barrels of medium toasted French and American oak for about a year. The two parts are blended prior to bottling.

Colour is a deep ruby. There are intense aromas of cherry and plum, notes of vanilla. Quite a striking velvety mouthfeel on this one, round with ripe and tangy fruit, hints of spice, and an excellent acidity. A very pleasant drop indeed and Very Highly Recommended.

Karwig’s also do another excellent example of the grape: Renato Barbera D’Alba.

Fontanafredda Gavi (DOCG) 2015, 12.5%, €23.10 Karwig Wines

This is another of the vineyard’s Stripes Series and the Cortese vines from which it is produced are grown near the village of Gavi in south east Piedmont. Serve between 10 to 12 degrees and you’ll find it is ideal for starters and light meals.

It is a light straw colour with a definite green tint and micro-bubbles cling to the sides of the glass. There are fairly intense aromas, a melange of white fruit and blossom. Lively fruit flavours predominate as it rolls smoothly across the palate. It is an easy-drinking well-balanced wine with a long dry finish. Highly Recommended.

Fontanafredda “Le Fronde” Moscato D’Asti (DOCG) 2012, 5.0%, €9.95 Karwig Wines

This is a gorgeous moderately sweet wine, another string to the impressive Fontanafredda bow. Try it with all desserts, they encourage. I had a few of those delightful cheesecakes from Charly and tried the two together. Excellent, though I'm told it may be even better with drier cakes (e.g. panetone). And, by the way, it is also lovely on its own.

May not have much alcohol on board - yes, that five per cent is correct - but it has quite a lot going for it otherwise. It is slightly fizzy, lots of bubbles in evidence, mainly clinging to the sides of the glass, a frizzante rather than a spumante. Indeed, the low alcohol count means it can be convenient to use within a multi-course meal, either as aperitif or with dessert. I prefer to use a normal white wine glass rather than a flute.


It is aromatic (this one sage and honey) and floral, full and fruity also. Well worth trying, ideal in the garden in summer, with three or four friends. Recommended.

Recently reviewed:

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Tawny. Muscat. Topaque. Top Sweet Wines from Australia.

Tawny. Muscat. Topaque.
Top Sweet Wines from Australia.

Australia’s wine industry began with sweet fortified wines and the stickies were in great form at the Australia Day Tasting last Monday in Dublin’s Royal Hibernians Academy.

I was determined to concentrate on the Focus Table, this year featuring a selection of 31 wines by Irish wine personalities who have a keen interest in Australia, including Liam Campbell, Martin Moran, Harriet Tindal, Colm McCan (Ballymaloe) and Gavin Ryan (Black Pig, Kinsale). The figure was supposed to be 24 wines but it did get extended.
Chris Pfeiffer

It included three sweet wines so I had to be patient, working my way through the white and the red before getting my hands on them. The d’Arenberg ‘Nostalgia Rare’, a McLaren Vale Tawny, more tawny port style than ruby, according to Liam Campbell’s note, was delicious. McCan’s choice, the Skillogalee ‘Liqueur’ Clare Valley Muscat NV, from Dave and Diane Palmer, poured slowly from the stubby bottle, a sweet stream, sweet but with balance.



And it was the Pfeiffer Wines Rutherglen Muscat NV, a Martin Moran pick, with its heady complexity and orange notes that was my favourite of the trio.

And there were more from the Rutherglen area at the Liberty Wine table, sipped as we chatted with Gerry Gunnigan and new recruit Marcus Gates. First up was the Chambers Rosewood Muscat à Petits Grains Rouge NV (€18.99) and the direct comparison was with the ‘Old Vine’ Rutherglen Muscat à Petits (34.99).

The first is unctuous and rich, yet balanced. The ‘Old Vine’ , with orange, raisin and floral aromas, and a concentration of riches on the amazing palate, and again that balance. Both delicious but, if feeling flush, go for the Old Vine which has had the benefit of going through their specific Solera System.


Back then to visit Chris and Robyn Pfeiffer at their stand and, first to try their Topaque Rutherglen Muscadelle NV (previously called Tokay). “This is 100% Moscatel. It is well ripened. There is plenty of accumulated sugar but we don't lose the fruit.” And this luscious flavour-full wine is another stickie gem.

On a previous visit to Cork, Chris revealed that the table wines “pay” for the fortified wines which are regarded as “an accountant’s nightmare, because they tie up so much capital”. Fortunately, thanks to people like Chris, the accountants don't always have their way. “Fortified wines are undervalued...they deliver great punch for your pound!”

Colm picked a good one.
And, on that occasion, at The Hayfield Manor, I had the pleasure of sampling the even rarer Pfeiffer Grand Muscat. It is twenty years old and has spent most of that time in barrel. “It is a very special occasion wine (like old Cognac). It is very complex and you don't need much.”

That left me wishing for a tasting of their Rare Muscat, four years older than the Grand. “Like to get a  sip or two of that sometime”, I said to myself that night. And it finally happened in the RHA when Robyn produced a bottle and we drank the amazing wine, clinking our glasses in honour of the departed Joe Karwig, the wine-person’s wine-person who left us too soon (in late 2015). A fitting end to my stickie excursion at the Australia Day Tasting.
Rich and rare
Robyn Pfeiffer and Johnny McDonald

Sunday, January 29, 2017

From Sharecroppers to Entrepreneurs. The Modern History of Italian Wine

From Sharecroppers to Entrepreneurs
The Modern History of Italian Wine

At a lunch last April in West Cork, Italian winemaker Elena Pantaleoni (La Stoppa) told me that farmers were , not so long ago, looked down on in Italy, that her farmer brother had to leave Italy for France to gain some respect in his chosen profession. I was just a few pages into The Modern History of Italian Wine (edited by Walter Filiputti) when I was reminded of that conversation in the Good Things in Skibbereen.

“The modern history of Italian wine, which began to take shape in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, is the finest page ever written by our agriculture.
It gave birth to the most important agrarian revolution, in a few years turning poor farmers into entrepreneurs whose bottles are now found worldwide. ‘Contadino’ (peasant/farmer) was a derogatory term, sometimes used offensively. Until the 1970s, it was very difficult for a farm/peasant boy in the Friuli countryside, for example, to marry outside of his social class.”

In those few transformative years, a new awareness of public health emerged and production processes, previously heedlessly helped by chemicals, was enhanced by the arrival of “cold technology, laying the groundwork for mechanical oenology or knowledge”

And then the US market took off for Italy, helped hugely by the Italians in the states, in their restaurants in general and by Robert Mondavi in particular. The fascinating book takes us through the decades that followed and “is a history of labour and creativity that is all Italian, something to be proud of”.
Other famous names emerged in Italy. And famous wines too, such as the “Super Tuscan” Tignanello, Sassicaia (100 points from Parker for 1985 vintage and another Super Tuscan), Castello Banfi’s Brunello (which established itself as “a symbol of Italian quality in the wider world”.

The US market was becoming increasingly important and “indeed began to drive the industry”. In the 1990s, Angelo Gaia, another leading figure in the renaissance, noted the change in America: “they were understanding our fine clean wines”.

There were many breakthroughs including the Masi’s innovative Ripasso method and Campofiorin, a Super Venetian and “the inspiration for a while series of wines". 

And then came the setback of the methanol scandal in 1986 when over twenty people died. But Italy acted quickly to tighten quality controls. And the renaissance continued, moving the industry ever further from chemistry towards sustainability.

And that progress is being marked on the landscape (on it and under it) by some amazing wineries, quite a few of them illustrated in the 400 page book. Most of us know the very spectacular wineries of Spain but they are matched in Italy. 

Just take a look at some of my favourites, the L’Ammiraglia in Tuscany, the Cantina Khamma and the Feudo di Mezzo (both in Sicily), the Petra in Tuscany, La Brunella in Piedmont, and Cantina Jermann di Ruttars in Friuli.

There are separate chapters on the 60s, 70, and each decade right up to the present. Here the winemakers who were prominent in each decade are mentioned. Just two hundred or so in all, so many will be disappointed but the editor says the book is dedicated “to all Italian vintners” and also to those not mentioned (who are asked to “please be understanding”).

Factors leading to the breakthrough in the 60s were the controversial introduction of the DOCs in 1962 and the abolition of sharecropping in 1964. Many sharecroppers left the countryside and the old vines (and many native varieties) were at risk. But many former sharecroppers became modern farmers and many entrepreneurs joined them in the vineyards.

Fontanafredda, many of whose wines are available here (Karwig Wines, for example), go back a bit further than the 60s and the estate was, in 1858, part of the heritage of King Vittorio Emanuele 11.  They were making excellent Barolo at least as far back as 1924. In recent times, “the property passed to another visionary, Oscar Farinetti, who revitalized its sale and the commercial image of this brand which today, with its 90 hectares and concessions, produces about 7.5 million bottles”.

In the early 70s, “we saw the beginning of the long process that would lead knowledgeable oenology to drive the chemistry away from the temple”. As Piero Antinori said: “Modern technology simply allows us to express our full potential”. Leonildo Pieropan figures prominently in this decade. In 1971, he produced the Soave Calvarino and in 1978, Soave La Rocca, aged in wood, “another revolution for his territory”.  Liberty Wines import the wines of Pieropan to Ireland.


The “mastery of oenological science” put the Italians in position to tackle global markets and, despite the methanol setback, they did so in style during the 80s. But Angela Piotti Velenosi first had to conquer her local area of the Marches and Piceno where only cooperative wineries and bulk wine reigned. 

Angela and her husband founded their winery in 1984 starting with just five hectares. Three decades later, the vineyards stretch to 105 hectares and produce 2.5 millions bottles, “of which a large share is exported to five continents”. Quite a lot it makes its way here to Ireland and Karwigs have quite a selection.

In the 1990s, Italian winemakers, who had mastered the technology, began to look at their vineyards “as the source of better quality. Viticulture took its place again at the centre of the wine system.” Italy was flying in world markets, Brunello di Montalcino “a symbol of this extraordinary success”.

The islands of Sicily and Sardinia are major players in the Italian wine industry yet one of the smallest producers is among those chosen to represent the 1990s. “One label, one wine and a success for twenty years”, the Galardi estate is on the slopes of..an extinct volcano. The four owners started to recover the old vineyards in 1991 and now produce, organically since 1997, some 33,000 bottles of IGT Roccamonfina Terra di Lavoro, a blend of Aglianico and a small percentage of Piedirosso, “the essence of the south”.

Sustainability was the model to follow as the new millennium dawned. Wine tourism too began to build and, speaking of building, famous architects designed inspiring wineries. And who do I see listed as one of the “representatives" of this decade? None other then Colutta (Friuli Venezia Giulia) whose owner Giorgio Colutta visited Cork last year.
Giorgio (right) in Cork last year.

Giorgio explained that he is not organic (that's easier to do in the warmer south!) but this former pharmacist has introduced environmentally sustainable cultivation techniques and is self sufficient with regard to energy consumption. His is a small company but has reached out around the world, especially to the Far East. Fortunately he is on the books of Wines Direct where you may purchase his amazing Pinot Grigio and the even more amazing Schioppettino. 

The Schioppettino grape variety is from the local area and has a history there dating back to at least the 13th century. Giorgio told me the name means “little bang”, the sound the grape makes when you pop a ripe one into your mouth!

The chapter on the current decade features Up and Coming winemakers and ideas. The future may be in the past if the exploits of father and son team, Pasquale and Umberto Ceratti, are anything to go by. In Calabria, they make “precious wine with ancient methods”.  Following these antique methods, they make a few thousand bottles of Greco di Bianco from a vine that came with the Greeks in the 8th century BC.
Elena Pantaleoni (front, 1st left), at lunch in Skibbereen

So back to Elena and her vineyard La Stoppa. Her family bought the old place in 1973, and revived the vineyards and the winery. Nowadays, using organic methods, La Stoppa specialises in the production of wines derived from the local varieties: Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, as well as from Barbera and Bonarda, in addition to the wines derived from the historically introduced varieties of French origin: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Semillon. Beautiful wines from a beautiful place and available here from Le Caveau. Just thought I'd get that in, even if the editors couldn't!

Divided into three parts (“The Renaissance of Italian Wine,” “Italian Wine. Innovation” and “The Geography of Italian Wine”), the book narrates a never-before-told, all-Italian story of hard work and creativity. It leads readers on a journey through the sun-drenched regions of Italy, a country that has dramatically revamped its wine-growing and vinification procedures since the 1970s. All in all, it is a marvellous book, full of detail and passion, and well illustrated too.

  • Just one criticism: While there are indices for winemakers and another for names, there is no overall index. If I want find Valtellina (which is mentioned at least three times), for example, I just have to go through the whole book. Why Valtellina? Well, we had an Italian night in the Farmgate in 2015 and the wines came from there as does Farmgate front-of-house Mirco! The Italians and their wines are everywhere - thankfully. 
  • The Modern History of Italian Wine is edited by Walter Filiputti and is published by Skira. It is available from Eason's (€58.80) and online from the publishers (€46.75).