The contents of my wine cellar vary widely over time, but you’ll always find a clutch of wines from southern Italy in my cupboard. These products offer high quality, interesting character, and very fair prices. The grapes used to craft them are from unusual indigenous often ancient varietals. The reds are palish and often garnet-tinged with rich (but rarely fat) ripe fresh and dried red fruit, pungent gravel or volcanic mineral notes, and enchanting sweet spices. The whites are full-ish but fresh with perfumed noses and pear-ish or tropical fruit.
At the 20th annual Italian Wine Fair’s visit to Toronto last November, several dozen local wine folk were treated to a tasting of wines from Southern Italy.
Dr. Attilio Scienza (yes, he’s really named ‘Dr. Science’), professor of viticulture and oenology at the University of Milan, was on hand to illuminate tasters. Wine man Jamie Drummond acted as emcee, keeping things moving along nicely while providing both information and entertainment. If you can’t find the specific bottlings noted below, look for others from the same regions or producers. You won’t go far wrong.
Salento Rosso IGP—Rosso Camillo 2011 Pirro Varone Società Agricola S.R.L.($24.05, score 89+): From the heel of the Italian boot, this wine is a pretty medium scarlet colour with delightful ripe black cherry blackberry and black current fruit and dusty sweet spicy and floral notes. It’s fresh and finely grippy with a long well-fruited finish.
Primitivo Salento IGP, Cantine Due Palme 2013 ($15.95, score 89+): Primitivo is the same grape as California’s Zinfandel and it shows in this deep dark cherry red wine. It flaunts big fresh and dried raspberry and red cherry fruit with an earthy farmyard note and a metallic nuance. It’s fresh and velvety with dep sweetly ripe fruit and grace notes with a long, fruity mouth-watering finish.
Cirò Rosso Classico Superiore Riserva DOC 2012 Duca San Felice, Librandi Antonio E Nicodemo SPA ($17.95, score 89+): This Calabrian wine is vinified from the Gaglioppo grape. This medium-pale wine has a mineral nose with luscious mixed red berry and blackberry fruit with sweet spicy lilac notes. Its texture is grippy velvet with fresh acidity to carry the sweet ripe berry fruit through a lively finely tannic finish.
Melissa Rosso Superiore Mutrò DOC Val di Neto SRL 2008 ($24.95, score 89+): From the southern part of Cirò, this wine adds 25% Greco Nero to the Gaglioppo. Despite its age it’s still a glass-staining wine with a lovely fully mature nose of pungent minerals and dried cherry fruit. The velvety tannins and plush fruit persist through the long finish.
Etna (Trecastagni—districts of Ronzini and San Nicolò, Catania) Outis 2013 ($44.50, score 89+): The Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappucio (identified as Carignan) blended into this wine grow on volcanic soils around Sicily’s Mt. Etna which endow it with a pungent minerality. The lovely perfumed nose also has bright red cherry fruit with root beer, floral and sweet spicy notes. It’s very soft with fresh flavours and a gentle refreshing bitter note through a long finish.
Taburno Falanghina di Montagna, Masseria Frattasi di Beniamino Clemente 2014 ($19.95, score 89): Falanghina is named for the falanga, a Roman battle spear, acknowledging the varietal’s tall vines. This wine has an aromatic nose with mango and pear fruit, acacia, and mineral and sweet spicy notes. It’s sweetly ripe and freshly acidic on the palate with a creamy texture and a refreshing bitter finish.
Sicilia DOC—Donnafugata SurSur Grillo 2014 ($24.95, score 89+): This white features pear fruit and intense aromas of acacia blossoms with a grassy herbaceous note. It’s fresh, creamy and sweetly ripe in the mouth through a long finish.
[For more information about Italian wines email Natalia Banoub of energy PR at email@example.com]