Imbibing

Italian wines

just gets better…

Italy is awash with wine from vineyards planted just about everywhere.

Tucked in between olive groves littered with sheep and goats, in backyards, in fields, on hillsides, between churches and ancient monuments… there’s always a vineyard or two or even three.

An ancient grape making new friends and a southern Italian specialty of Puglia, Negroamaro is known for its dark colour, dusky berry fruit flavours and spicy, earthy undertones. Roughly defined, Salento encompasses Taranto, Brindisi and Lecce making up the heel of the boot of Italy in Puglia.

Typically dark purple, Giorgio &Gianni Negroamaro (157347) $10.70 is a textbook red from Salento brimming with notes of coffee, black cherry cola, and toasted oak flavours. Ripe plum and earthy prune flavours slide into an earthy finish.

Better known for the red wines of Valpolicella, Veneto reaches from Alto Adige on the southern flanks of the Alps, through Friuli Venezia-Giulia, into Trentino. As well as being the home of sparkling Prosecco, Veneto also produces Pinot Grigios.

From the plains of the Veneto, sun-drenched and full-bodied for an Italian white, Zen Zen Vogue (841726) $10.79 leads with ripe apple, mango and pineapple flavours. Subtle hints of almonds and dried hay fill out the finish. Serve this dry white with white-fleshed fish and shellfish.

Moving from Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) status into the more respected Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) “Delle Venize” wines cover everything in north-eastern Italy south of the Alto Adige – what was known as Tre Venezie. Italian wine regulations can get confusing…

A very seductive blend of 80 per cent Pinot Grigio and 20 per cent Moscato, Lady Lola Pinot Grigio Moscato Delle Venize IGT (514562) $11.99 melds crisp green apple notes of Pinot Grigio with the sweet green grape aromas and flavours of Moscato. The eye-catching reusable decanter it comes in makes Lady Lola a stand-out on the shelf!

Not to be confused with the well-known anise flavoured liqueur of the same name, Sambuca di Sicilia is a municipality in western Sicily, the sun-baked island west of the toe of the Italian boot. Like Puglia’s Negroamaro, Nero d’Avola is Sicily’s sun-loving and darkest-skinned red wine grape.

From a winery based in Sambuca di Sicilia, dark and dusky, Zabu Nero d’Avola (588079) $15.70 opens up slowly in the glass, revealing flavours of cranberry, black cherry, raspberry and dark chocolate. Traces of molasses and soy blossom into intriguing cooked fruit notes of balsamic.

Fontanafredda is the single largest contiguous estate in Piedmont, Italy with over 305 acres of land, including 210 acres of vineyards in the Serralunga, Barolo and Diano d’ Alba communes. All estate vineyards are farmed without the use of chemicals, and the property is home to a bio-natural reserve, a safe and sustainable refuge for a wide array of local flora and fauna.

One of Italy’s most fashionable whites Fontanafredda Gavi (224709) $22.35 is made from 100 percent Cortese wine grapes and renowned for its acute dryness and fresh, flinty acidity. It has a full, delicate, elegant bouquet which brings flowers and fresh fruit to mind – lemons, lilies of the valley and green apples. Bright and sassy on first sip, it develops a chalky minerality as it warms up on the tongue.

Barbera has long filled-in the low slopes and valleys of Piedmont in Northern Italy. Considered a lesser variety than the fables Nebbiolo – ‘the little foggy one’ that is made into Barolo – it doesn’t necessarily get the best hillside exposures. Despite its lowly position, Barbera is the quintessential ‘wine of the people’.

Founded by Cesare Pio in 1881 in the town of Alba, in Piedmont, south-east of Turin, Italy, Pio Cesare has been focused on making red wines from Nebbiolo and Barbera for more than a century. Cult wine lovers seek out their reds and the occasional whites made from Chardonnay and Moscato.

“Fides” means “faith” in Latin. Pio Cesare Fides Barbera (552760) $52.99 represents the great longtime faith the family have in the Barbera grapes planted and grown very deliberately in Barolo, where Nebbiolo would generally get the best sites. Easy to appreciate, it exudes sweet black cherry, blackberry and plum aromas and flavours. Notes of prunes, molasses and coffee slide through the lengthy finish into mushrooms and earthy undergrowth.

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