All posts filed under: South Italy

Pure Pleasure State: Vermentino! (Amore, Amore, Amore)

The state of Vermentino is pure pleasure. So I raised my eyebrows to the challenge to show there were different styles of the vermentino grape. To me it is obvious: all vermentino seems to show a wave of glamourous flavour which ends in a quiet shhhh of reaching the shore. Whether the Vermentino is from Liguria, Tuscany, Sardinia or the emerging areas in Australia. But there are differences. 

New Italian wines at The Wine Society: bella figura!

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: 

The Best (Easy) Map of Italian Wine Regions and Varieties

If you love maps, you’ll find Italian wine a never-ending cartographical adventure. Next to actually visiting the region (and, of course, enjoying the wine) a map of Italy is one of the best ways to understand this complex wine country. Here is one of the best maps I have found, also outlining the major grape varieties, although remember there are over 2000 grape varieties in Italy. It is very similar to the map found in the excellent reference book, Vino Italiano: Regional Wines of Italy by Joseph Bastianich and David Lynch (2005, USA). Ciao!    

Take a bite: Aglianico del Vulture DOC

Aglianico del Vulture dei Feudi di San Gregorio 2007 The first taste of Aglianico is like a volcanic eruption in rewind: a hundred blasts, shreds of mineral rock followed by a fierce lava cooling down into black smoke puffing back into the top of the mountain, overgrown with herbs, cool as graphite and purring, velvet and deep, as if nothing had happened. The consensus amongst wine lovers is that Aglianico is due for a spectacular resurge any day now. There are two major Aglianico styles in the South of Italy, Tuarasi DOCG and Aglianico del Vulture DOC (why this is not a DOCG is one of those cruel twists of Italian law^) a 100% Aglianico style grown on the side of the volcano, Mount Vulture. At the core of the wine is a complex profile of black fruit, licorice, firm tannins and good acidity with a perfume of violet, sour cherry and leather. The vineyards are high on the mountain which gives the wine an uplifting freshness. The large personality reminds me of a Barossa …

Last of the True Romantics: Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio DOC

Often my friend from Rome, perhaps while we are walking down the street to the supermarket on a grey Saturday morning, will abruptly stop, hold his hand over his heart, grab my elbow to jolt me back and say with eyes wide open in shock, “Did you see THAT? That’s IT! I AM IN LOVE!” Meanwhile, of course, his love walks by completely unaware of the near cardiac arrest just caused. To be honest, I often don’t see what all the fuss is about, but for a moment, at least, the day seems just a little brighter for it. I have to be careful when we are tasting wine together. His sensitivity to beautiful things means he is often in raptures. That’s why, to tone down his enthusiasm about the good wine we tried from the Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio DOC in Campania, I started to talk about rocks and soil types in vineyards. In particular, the soil type of Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio – near the volcano Mount Vesuvius – which can often be found …

Salice Salentino Riserva 2005

Last night I tasted the Salice Salentino 2005 Riserva by the Candido family in Puglia. Salice Salentino is the name of a style of wine made from the Italian grape, Negroamaro, found on the Salentino plain located in Puglia, the heel of the “boot” of Italy. As Nabokov puts it, “This is the whole of the story and we might have left it at that had there not been profit and pleasure in the telling…” Salice Salentino by Candido has an acidity like a table made only of neon light: the edges are the fluorescent bright taste of redcurrant and bilberry. The acidity frames a space filled with a perfume of prune, mushrooms and dry raspberry (must remember, real raspberries taste dry). It is a brick red with orange glints. But this is where the limit of description ends and where the music begins. Alongside the wine we enjoyed the local cheese from Puglia, scamorza (a smoky, hard mozzarella). The smokiness of the cheese became the bottom note completing the earth-fruit in the wine, pulling together …

Sicilian, Sartorial, Sensual: Planeta Dinner, W1

Sitting at dinner with Francesca Planeta, it did not surprise me when she told me her wine had run out at Milan Fashion Week. I know from experience, these wines are seriously loved by my friends in the fashion industry. But what does come as a surprise is to learn Planeta has only been making wines in Sicily since 1985. Think Italy and wine: what comes to mind is old estates with centuries of history. Then there’s Sicily… dormant for the past 4000 years, it has recently become a hotbed of wine innovation. The world’s love affair with Planeta started with their Chardonnay. We tasted the 2000 vintage and I was instantly back in the 1990s: poured from a double magnum, it’s a full-bodied Chardonnay with prominent oak, a style which has now fallen out of fashion somewhat. But that was then: this is now. Contrast the latest 2009 Cometa Fiano. It’s a cutting-edge style of fabulous pure fruit expression from this grape from Campania which, had a consultant exclaim on first tasting, “When a wine comes out …