The concept of ‘bella figura’ or good image is important to Italians. Bella figura is more than dressing well. It extends to the aura you project too – i.e. confidence, style, demeanour, etc. (From Italy – Language, Culture, Customs and Etiquette)
The Wine Society UK has found its Members wines that not only speak of the place but also have an extra flourish of bella figura. You’ll find nearly all of The Wine Society’s Italian wines for Spring have personality and speak of its place and history; in particular, the white wines. At these prices, and in these quantities, that is quite an achievement. Here is the line up for Spring:
2010 Falanghina Guardiolo, Janare £6.75
A flash of bright colour – with vibrant fruit character straight upfront, good weight on the palate and an excellent clean finish. From Campania (the region around Naples), the quality is evident even before finding out the man behind it, Ex-Feudi San Gregorio oenologist Cotarello. If you tend to drink Pinot Grigio by default, this wine will be a revelation and could very well be your new favourite white wine this summer.
2010 Greco Sannio, Janare £6.75
When Italian wine can balance its ancient wine history with modern technology there is no other country who can compare the quality of experience in the glass. The Ancient Roman philosopher Horace described wines made from the Greco grape from Sannio as having a “slightly smoky aroma”. Certainly, the slight smoky character is there like a wisp of incense curling up to the ceiling on a hot tropical island. Excellent value.
2009 Etna Bianco Fondo e Filara, Nicosia £10.95
Disclosure: I have a slight obsession with Mount Etna wine region in Sicily. The idea of a region on the side of a volcano fascinates me. So I will try to remain as impartial as possible. This is a brilliant wine. It is a sophisticated style with a slightly savoury taste of angostura bitters – incredibly intriguing, which each taste evolving and developing like a revealing conversation with your most trusted and intelligent friend.
2008 Vigo Etna Rosso, Romeo del Castello £22.00
Another volcanic wine from The Wine Society (see above). The Nerello Mascalese grape is planted at 700 metres above sea level in Sicily, and gives the wines a good deep colour with a fresh, clean uplift on the finish – which generally means the wine will please for more than one glass. The stylish label does justice to the wine inside the bottle.
2006 Biferno Rosso Riserva, Camillo de Lellis £7.25
Even though the Montepulciano is blended with Aglianico and a touch of Trebbiano to soften the wine, this has a good meaty character but with fresh berry fruit. My notes read: OK value.
2009 Dolcetto d’Alba, Podere Colla £9.50
A very soft little Dolcetto with no oak, which is very enjoyable like a harmless flirt with a good-looking waiter. Excellent fine chalky-tannin finish.
2009 Barbera d’Alba, Enzo Boglietti £10.95
Ripe Barbera from an excellent vintage. This is the heavier, rich style that is a very good substitute for the regulation Bourgogne/Pinot Noir people tend to drink with duck. And it is half the price of red Burgundy and able to do the same job.
2006 GB Burlotto Barolo – Half Bottle – £13.50
Not the most serious Barolo, but if you are a fan of the half bottle (as I am), then you will not be disappointed. It has soft tannins, rose petals and earthy aromas and very clean finish. Perfect little treat. And in a half-bottle – who wouldn’t want to drink Barolo everyday? Good news: here, you can.
These wines will be available 1 April, 2011.
Image: Anna Dello Russo