A virtual tasting of Italian wines I attended last year was highly enjoyable and hilarious in the same sips. The Zoom link-up included a portable screen and audio-visual equipment with wires and jacks all over the place. Electronic technology is highly reliant on airwaves. That mid-December night, the reception from Italy froze and “hung” almost as many times as there were the 23 wines to taste from the north, south, east and west of the country. As a group, several of the Tuscans disappointed because they tasted as if I was chewing on a piece of wood. Furniture is not my idea of fruit. The 8 wines which impressed are full of personality, the same kind of individualism I imagine of the Italians who grew the grapes and fashioned them into delicious, fruity, compelling wine.
FONTANAVECCHIA TABURNO FALANGHINA DEL SANNIO DOP 2019
Aromatic: pear, peach and citrus. More subdued on the palate but no less rewarding. Citrus – including limes – and gooseberries. Fresh and vivid. Yummy, zero oak white from central Campania.
IL COLOMBAIO DI SANTACHIARA VERNACCIA DI SAN GIMIGNANO RIS L’ALBERETA 2017
An oxidative (but not oxidised) minerally, flinty, rich, complex, waxy, glycerol white. Fish, seafood and pork (make sure there’s fat on the meat, belly pork being best) will greedily lap this up. Aged in large, old barrels.
TERENZUOLA PERMANO IGT COSTA TOSCANA VERMENTINO 2017
Light, mid-gold. There’s a hint of a natural wine here. And oak treatment. Vermentino is also grown in the south of France where it is known as Rolle. Sunny ripe, flinty, cooked apple fruit.
BARONE SERGIO NERO D’AVOLA “SERGIO” ELORO DOC 2018
The family has lived here in eastern Sicily since the 16th Century. One hundred percent Nero d’Avola fermented and aged in stainless steel. Vibrant blue fruit with ripe, lively, fresh tannins.
TENUTA CASTELLARO NERO OSSIDIANA TERRE SIC ROSSO 2016
The organic wines of Tenuta Castellaro are grown on one of the little Aeolian Islands off Sicily. Exotic ripe fruit that reminds of figs and berries. And with great acidity. One of the top reds.
FATTORIA DI FIBBIANO CEPPATELLA TERRE DI PISA SANGIOVESE 2015
Tuscan red from the Pisa Hills from 100% Sangiovese. After fermentation in stainless steel tanks, aged in a cement tank for 4 months before another 30 months in large, old Slavonian oak vats. Delicious cherry fruit with vibrant, holistic tannins from the pips and skin. Wonderful freshness. Another top red.
QUERCIA AL POGGIO CHIANTI CLASSICO 2018
The estate produces only one Chianti Classico. The first vintage was 1997. A blend of 80% Sangiovese with the balance 20% spread between Ciliegiolo, Canaiolo, Malvasia Nera and Colorino. Organically grown. Black fruit and liquorice. Freshness. Just a touch austere on the finish.
CAPEZZANA TREFIANO CARMIGNANO DOCG RISERVA BIO 2016
Produced since 1979, the blend is Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Canaiolo. Wine jars and tasting cups found in Etruscan tombs in this part of Tuscany shows that wine has been produced in Carmignano for more than 3000 years. Plums delivered on ripe, smooth tannins. Medium-plus-ish bodied. Balanced and elegant. Another top red.