Italy


Showing 25–36 of 249 results

  • Benanti Pietra Marina 2016

    £84.99

    “The 2016 Etna Bianco Superiore Pietra Marina is more of a whisper than a shout, but it has a lot to say, as its bouquet blossoms with aromas of young peach and mango, evolving further to reveal hints of sage, sugar-dusted almonds and white smoke. Like a veil of pure silk, this slips across the palate, nearly weightless yet stimulating all the same, as salty acids and minerals build tension toward the close, balanced by ripe stone fruits. It’s persistent yet juicy, swaying between savory and sweet, while leaving the senses completely refreshed and longing for more. The Pietra Marina is an old-vines selection of Carricante from the Rinazzo Contrada on Etna’s eastern slope. It refines for 24 months on the lees in stainless steel vats prior to bottling. Put some away for a few years in the cellar, and reap the rewards. Drinking window: 2023-2032. 94 points”

    Eric Guido,Vinous (06/21)

    In Stock

  • Benanti Rovittello 2016

    £77.49

    “The 2016 Etna Rosso Rovittello Particella No. 341 Riserva opens slowly in the glass, at first backward, dusty and dark, with only nuances of dried roses to be found. Swirling adds further hints of red currant, shaved cedar and sage, yet it doesn’t fully unlock what’s beneath this youthful exterior. It washes across the palate with a more energetic expression; at first, it is silky in feel, yet has a salty mineral core and zesty acids that add grip as potent red berry fruits penetrate deeply. What remains are silty tannins that dry the senses, along with a bitter twang of savory brown spice, as the 2016 finishes with hulking structure and a hint of sour cherry that lingers. Frankly, it’s hard to tell where this is going; so for now, I remain conservative. Drinking window: 2025-2030. 91+ points

    When you’re tasting the wines of a producer who should be at the top of their game but is falling short, it’s always depressing. As for Benanti, this is an estate that was first on the scene at Etna. It’s one that helped define the single-vineyard (contradas) of the region. To this day, they continue to raise the bar with their Riserva Serra della Contessa and Etna Bianco Superiore Pietra Marina–both stunning expressions of variety and place. They also produce an exceptional Nerello Cappuccio, one of the few single-variety expressions that readers can find outside of Sicily. This all sounds great, but the problem is that I find a huge disparity between the top wines and those that fill the majority of the portfolio. Why can’t a producer like Benanti produce an entry-level Etna Rosso that can compete with the other producers of Mount Etna? Why is their single-vineyard Rosso Monte Serra, yet again, a sub-ninety-point wine, even from a good vintage like 2019? Your guess is as good as mine.”

    Eric Guido, Vinous (06/22)

    Crusaders, Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, the Mafia…..These are just some of the invaders who have left their mark on Sicily, an important fact which goes some of the way to explain the background to the delicious wines now emerging from the 23 DOCs and 1 DOCG which make up its wine map. Many historians have commented that Sicily is more akin to a continent in its own right rather than a mere province of Italy and it is this heritage more than anything which gives these wines their vibrancy and complexity, together with the infinite variation of soil type, especially on the slopes of Mt Etna itself.

    Sicily has always produced buckets of undistinguished wine – encouraged latterly by EU subsidies. More recently though, there has a been an explosion of top quality wine with many producers in the Etna DOC at the forefront of this. This is due in large measure to the tireless work of Diego Planeta whose wines many of you will already have enjoyed. As well as starting his own eponymous winery in 1995, he was also responsible for persuading Settesoli (the largest producer of bulk wine in Sicily) to expand the range of native grape varieties they were willing to cultivate commercially. The workhorse (and rather bland) and most widely planted variety in most of Sicily has long been Cataratto but now there are more dynamic wines made from Frappato, Nero d’Avola, Nerelli Mascalese and Capuccio, and Carricante – to name but a few.

    Benanti, whose vineyards lie predominantly on the slopes of Mt Etna at Viagrande in Catania, was founded at the end of the 19th century. The Etna DOC was established in 1968 but the modern era for this estate really starts in 1988 when Dr Giuseppe Benanti completed a study of soil types with a view to matching the grape variety and its clones to specific soil types. This is no mean feat as Sicily has such fabulous diversity. Since then, this producer has gone from strength to strength, with a range encompassing wines made from single native varietals to wines such as Majora, the top wine, made from a blend of Nero d’Avola, Syrah, Tannat and Petit Verdot.

    In Stock

  • Benanti Serra della Contessa 2016

    £77.49

    “The 2016 Etna Rosso Serra della Contessa Particella No. 587 Riserva is dark and savory in the glass, grumbling up with notes of crushed rocks and ash that evolve further to reveal musky black currants, hints of licorice and dried violets. This is velvety-smooth, yet not weighty in feel. Instead, the 2016 seems to glide effortlessly across the palate, yet what it leaves behind is a saturation of primary fruit and mineral tones, as well as silky tannins that penetrate deeply. The Serra della Contessa finishes structured yet long and unexpectedly fresh, with balsam herbs and a touch of salted licorice that slowly fades. This Etna Rosso is a powerhouse, but it is in need of cellaring to reveal all at its charms. Drinking window: 2024-2032. 95 points

    When you’re tasting the wines of a producer who should be at the top of their game but is falling short, it’s always depressing. As for Benanti, this is an estate that was first on the scene at Etna. It’s one that helped define the single-vineyard (contradas) of the region. To this day, they continue to raise the bar with their Riserva Serra della Contessa and Etna Bianco Superiore Pietra Marina–both stunning expressions of variety and place. They also produce an exceptional Nerello Cappuccio, one of the few single-variety expressions that readers can find outside of Sicily. This all sounds great, but the problem is that I find a huge disparity between the top wines and those that fill the majority of the portfolio. Why can’t a producer like Benanti produce an entry-level Etna Rosso that can compete with the other producers of Mount Etna? Why is their single-vineyard Rosso Monte Serra, yet again, a sub-ninety-point wine, even from a good vintage like 2019? Your guess is as good as mine.”

    Eric Guido, Vinous (06/22)

    In Stock

  • Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino 2015

    £143.75

    The Biondi-Santi 2015 Brunello di Montalcino exudes dark, velvety fruit and concentration while maintaining the signature elegance, suppleness and lithe personalty that distinguishes the iconic Il Greppo estate. I found this new release to be quite distinctive and exquisitely beautiful, setting it apart from many of the past vintages we are most familiar with. This 2015 edition is dark, exuberant and bold, but precise, focused and sharp as well. It will live for years in your cellar, but tasted now in its infancy, the wine shows blackberry, dried cherry, plum and dark cassis. Those dark fruit tones segue to a rich presentation of tar, spice, earth, tobacco and sweet balsam herb. The bouquet offers seamless and smooth transitions. This warm and sunny growing season favored richness and phenolic weight. Wines from Biondi-Santi are made for the long haul, and the fresh acidity that characterizes this estate is the principle reason why. However, I’d argue that this wine from 2015 will evolve over the years not only thanks to the freshness but more so thanks to the important structure of this solid and profound wine. Drink: 2024-2048. 97+ points

    This spotlight focuses on two new releases from Biondi-Santi: the 2017 Rosso di Montalcino and the 2015 Brunello di Montalcino. The upcoming 2013 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva will be released later this year, and I will publish a review of that wine as soon as I have the opportunity to taste it.

    Of these two samples, it’s worth spending an extra word on the beautiful 2017 Rosso di Montalcino. Rosso is an entry-level category of wine in Montalcino, made with 100% Sangiovese like its big brother Brunello, which has been the subject of much debate and attention in recent years. There is an acute awareness on the part of both the trade and the consumer that the enormous growth potential of Rosso di Montalcino remains untapped.

    Because Rosso commands a lower price point than Brunello (a wine that sells well), there has been an unwillingness to invest vineyard acreage or infrastructure for Rosso di Montalcino. Why focus on Rosso in a Brunello market?

    As a result, Montalcino is an anomaly in the world of wine because it has an inverted quality pyramid. The classic wine region elsewhere is built upon on a large base of lower-priced wines at the bottom, and a pointed tip where a much smaller number of expensive fine wines live at the top. In Montalcino, cellar-worthy Brunello is the expensive wine at the top produced in ample volume, but the upside-down pyramid tapers down at the bottom to capture the sidelined Rosso.

    For example, in a year like 2018, the appellation produced eight million bottles of Brunello di Montalcino and 4.5 million bottles of Rosso di Montalcino for a turnover of 160 million euros, and 70% of the wine was sold in export markets, according to the Consorzio del Vino di Montalcino. The denomination has policies in place to limit the growth of Brunello to eight to nine million bottles, depending on the vintage. However, there is ample room for growth, says the Consorzio, for Rosso di Montalcino.

    If Rosso di Montalcino is to build momentum, it is critical that the iconic brands of the appellation get behind the wine. This is the context I believe we need to consider when presenting a wine like the Biondi-Santi 2017 Rosso di Montalcino.

    “We strongly believe in Rosso di Montalcino,” Biondi-Santi CEO Giampiero Bertolini tells me over a Zoom call. “Rosso is the entry ticket to Montalcino. This wine is key to bringing in new interest and new generations of wine lovers.”

    The Biondi-Santi estate has a long-standing Rosso di Montalcino program. But it also sometimes produced a special bottling recognized by a red banner on the label called Rosso di Montalcino Fascia Rosso in the most difficult vintages such as 1989, 1992, 2002 and 2014. In those years, fruit destined to Brunello was downgraded to the red banner selection. It was determined that the Fascia Rosso was causing confusion in the marketplace and the wine was discontinued.

    “We don’t want our Rosso to be seen as a declassified wine,” says Bertolini. “Instead, we want to draw a clear identity for our Rosso.”

    The identity of the 2017 Rosso di Montalcino reviewed here is closely linked to that of the estate’s technical director, Federico Radi, who joined the estate that same year.

    “The 2017 growing season was hot and the vines were stressed. Yields were reduced by 30% to 40% in some areas,” says Radi. “Areas with heavy clay soils and younger vines suffered the most, but we were able to maintain freshness in the 2017 Rosso thanks to the advanced age of the vines in our best sites with cooler Galestro soils.”

    Biondi-Santi embarked on an ambitious project to map its vineyard holdings and better understand the soil characteristics of each parcel. The team is also slowly replanting less-productive vines. I wrote about these initiatives in my article that was published last year in the June 202 Week 1 issue. I also wrote about some recent changes at the estate in an article called “Updates from Montalcino’s Tenuta Biondi Santi” published on Wine Journal, which is free to read (no subscription required).

    The 2015 Brunello di Montalcino reviewed here will also be released in magnum for the first time in the estate history. Brunello was not made in 2014, nor was a Riserva produced that year.

    Each year, the estate selects a back vintage from the library to re-release to the market. The 1983 Riserva was selected for this purpose, and I was lucky enough to taste that beautiful wine a couple of years ago. That review was published in July 2019.

    In Good Hands

    Tenuta Biondi Santi is in a happy place today. Brunello watchers had reason for pause after the death of the beloved Franco Biondi Santi in 2013 at the age of 91 (and still active in winemaking). Not too long after his passing, rumors suggested that the estate might be for sale. This led to broad questions about the future of the brand, and specific concerns regarding the stewardship of the traditional winemaking style that so faithfully mirrors the personality of Il dottore Franco Biondi Santi. Last year’s release of the 2012 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva had a ribbon printed on the front label that read: “Dedicato a Franco Biondi Santi.” That is his final vintage.

    In 2016, Biondi Santi’s heirs sold the estate to the Paris-based EPI holding company owned by Christopher Descours. Since that date, a careful restructuring program was initiated. In the years following the acquisition, Franco’s son Jacopo and his grandson Tancredi both stayed on for consistency during the transition. However, both men have since left Il Greppo to dedicate their efforts to Jacopo’s Southern Maremma wine estate, Castello di Montepò.

    Meet the Team

    Under its French ownership, Il Greppo is managed by an all-Italian dream team of professionals, with a small Danish inclusion, culled from some of Tuscany’s most prestigious wine estates such as Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi, Marchesi Mazzei and Isole e Olena.

    Giampiero Bertolini, Biondi-Santi CEO, joined the team in 2018. With 16 years at the Frescobaldi Group, he served as global sales and marketing director at Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi. He got his master’s degree in economy and marketing at the Università degli Studi di Firenze, completing some of his studies at the international marketing program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

    His mission at Biondi-Santi is to “further expand the value and the importance of the brand to reinforce its presence among the greatest wines of the world. On the one hand, this will be accomplished through the continuous improvement of the quality of the wines, within the utmost respect of Biondi-Santi’s secular tradition and history; on the other hand, by strengthening the presence of Biondi-Santi in the best restaurants worldwide and in the most prestigious private wine collector cellars,” according to a company statement.

    Technical director Federico Radi, who heads viticulture and winemaking, joined the company in 2017. Tuscan born, he studied agronomy at the Università degli Studi di Firenze and holds a master’s degree in oenology from the Unversità degli Studi di Siena. His professional career has given him passage through the historic cellars of Villa Mangiacane, Isole e Olena (where he was vineyard manager) and the Maremma estate of Marchesi Mazzei, Tenuta Belguardo, where he was in charge of production.

    Giovanni Lai (the best-dressed man in Italian wine) is the European sales director. I met Giovanni back in 2005 when I was studying to be a sommelier with the Italian Sommelier Association. He was my instructor during the spirits portion of the course. A few years later, I profiled him in an article I wrote on Italian mixed drinks. It was around that time that I also met Lene Bucelli (Danish by birth but Italian by choice, much like myself). Lene is the head of marketing and communications at Biondi-Santi and has worked as a press officer for various estates in Tuscany. Andrea Gianardi is CFO, after having worked at the Chianti Classico Consortium for many years.

    The estate staff under employment by Franco Biondi Santi, both in production and in the offices, have pretty much all stayed on under the new ownership.

     

    Monica Larner, Wine Advocate (03/21)

    In Stock

  • Ca’ del Bosco Chardonnay 2016

    £74.99

    Review to follow

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  • Ca’ del Bosco Cuvee Prestige N.V.

    £34.99

    “Packaged in a transparent bottle and an easily recognized yellow-gold label, the NV Franciacorta Cuvée Prestige Brut is a blend of 75% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Bianco and 15% Pinot Nero. This is among Ca’ del Bosco’s most affordable and accessible sparkling wines. It offers steady consistency year after year. I’ve always loved the bouquet of this wine. It shows a slightly spicy side that reminds me of Christmas oranges nailed with cloves. In the mouth, the wine is lean and crisp with fine and persistent perlage. Drink: 2018-2026. 91 points

    Over the course of 2018, Maurizio Zanella and the team at Ca’ del Bosco began a winery enlargement project that will increase production capacity. Specifically, the estate is looking at growing its numbers of the more accessible Cuvée Prestige line. Personally, I find that line to be one of the best value buys in Franciacorta, so the news is all good.”

    Monica Larner, Wine Advocate (240)

    In Stock

  • Ca’ del Bosco Cuvee Prestige Rose N.V.

    £47.99

    “The NV Franciacorta Cuvée Prestige Rosé is a blend of 80% Pinot Nero and 20% Chardonnay. It exhibits a pale pink color that has evidently been studied and carefully executed. That same attention to detail is applied to the bouquet. Delicate and vibrant aromas of forest berry and cassis emerge slowly from the glass. It also shows subtle yeast aromas of baked bread or croissant. The wine’s texture is lean and firm, and the soft effervescence serves to keep the palate clean. Drink: 2018-2026. 92 points

    Over the course of 2018, Maurizio Zanella and the team at Ca’ del Bosco began a winery enlargement project that will increase production capacity. Specifically, the estate is looking at growing its numbers of the more accessible Cuvée Prestige line. Personally, I find that line to be one of the best value buys in Franciacorta, so the news is all good.”

    Monica Larner, Wine Advocate (240)

    In Stock

  • Ca’ del Bosco Maurizio Zanella 2016

    £79.99

    Review to follow

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    Cantalupo Collis Breclemae 2013

    £46.99

    “The 2013 Ghemme Collis Breclamae is fabulous. Deep, dark and also translucent, the 2013 possesses magnificent clarity as well as structure. Black cherry, lavender, truffle, mint, spice and new leather all develop in an ample, resonant Ghemme that hits all the right notes. A rich, substantial finish rounds things out in style. The 2013 can be enjoyed with minimal cellaring, but it also has the pedigree to develop in the cellar for many years to come. Each time I come back to the 2013 it is more impressive. Drinking window: 2023-2038. 96 points

    Readers who want to explore the best Alto Piemonte has to offer will find so much to admire in these new releases from Cantalupo. The Nebbiolo Colline Novaresi is done in a style that emphasizes freshness and near-term appeal. The dual flagships Collis Breclamae and Collis Carellae show two sides of Ghemme and the estate’s vineyards. The Breclamae is dark and brooding, while the Carellae is much brighter and more floral. Aging in cask really allows the personality of both sites to come through.”

    Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate (09/20)

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    Cantalupo Collis Carellae 2013

    £41.99

    “The 2013 Ghemme Collis Carellae is brighter and also more ethereal than the Collis Breclamae. Sweet floral notes, red berry fruit, mint, sage and alpine flowers all grace the 2013. A wine of exquisite beauty, the Collis Carellae is decidedly airy, even though it has plenty of Ghemme punch too. Crushed autumn leaves, raspberry and pine all linger on the mid-weight finish. The 2013 is maybe a bit clenched, but a few years in bottle should take care of that. Drinking window: 2023-2038. 95 points

    Readers who want to explore the best Alto Piemonte has to offer will find so much to admire in these new releases from Cantalupo. The Nebbiolo Colline Novaresi is done in a style that emphasizes freshness and near-term appeal. The dual flagships Collis Breclamae and Collis Carellae show two sides of Ghemme and the estate’s vineyards. The Breclamae is dark and brooding, while the Carellae is much brighter and more floral. Aging in cask really allows the personality of both sites to come through.”

    Antonio Galloni, Wine Advocate (09/20)

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  • Cantina Terlano Chardonnay 2021

    £18.99

    “Pretty florals, green apples and hints of mint waft up from the 2021 Chardonnay. This washes across the palate, deeply mineral in style, with tart orchard fruits and zests of lime that add further tension. It tapers off with a salty flourish while leaving nuances of sour melon and spice lingering. Drinking window: 2022-2025. 88 points

    From top to bottom, the Terlano portfolio continues to be one of the brightest shining stars within Alto Adige. The Tradition line is priced remarkably well for the value it represents, seeking to provide a pure expression of variety and terroir. Readers can get a very good feel for the region and house style of these crisp, transparent yet wholly satisfying wines. As you work your way up to the Sauvignon Blanc Quarz and Winkl, you’ll find a deep and prestigious expression of the varietal from the first and a younger yet richer and easier drinking one from the latter. The Pinot Bianco Riserva Vorberg seems to be fighting to compete with the best whites of Burgundy. If I had to point out any weak point in the portfolio, it would be the two Lagreins, yet this is splitting hairs as these deep expressions simply don’t communicate their price point to me; that said, I’d never turn down a glass. The real highlight of their portfolio is their Terlaner blends. At the entry level, the Terlaner Cuvée, is a serious wine that over-delivers. The Terlaner range blends Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc to varying degrees, starting with the Terlaner Riserva Nova Domus, a showstopper, and then moving up to the Terlaner Grande Cuvée Primo, which can compete with some of the top white wines around the world. How do they age, you might ask? Just take a look at the late release and limited Rarity portfolio (2008 Terlaner and 2009 Terlaner Riserva Nova Domus current vintages). These wines were vinified and refined for one year in large oak before being placed into a steel tank (2,500 liters) and allowed to mature on the lees for ten years or more. In fact, drinking their top wines young is a total disservice to what winemaker Rudi Kofler and his team have created at this bastion of tradition. If there was one stop to make while visiting the region that could give you a real sense of the Alto Adige experience, Terlano is it.”

    Eric Guido, Vinous (06/22)

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  • Cantina Terlano Gewurztraminer 2021

    £20.95

    “The 2021 Gewurztraminer is more restrained than expected, wafting up with delicate floral perfumes, hints of green melon and flint. It’s soft-textured and weighty in feel, with citrus-tinged acids adding balance and giving way to ultra-ripe orchard fruits. This tapers off spicy and with a bit of an exotic flair, yet I find myself craving more focus and energy. Drinking window: 2022-2025. 86 points

    From top to bottom, the Terlano portfolio continues to be one of the brightest shining stars within Alto Adige. The Tradition line is priced remarkably well for the value it represents, seeking to provide a pure expression of variety and terroir. Readers can get a very good feel for the region and house style of these crisp, transparent yet wholly satisfying wines. As you work your way up to the Sauvignon Blanc Quarz and Winkl, you’ll find a deep and prestigious expression of the varietal from the first and a younger yet richer and easier drinking one from the latter. The Pinot Bianco Riserva Vorberg seems to be fighting to compete with the best whites of Burgundy. If I had to point out any weak point in the portfolio, it would be the two Lagreins, yet this is splitting hairs as these deep expressions simply don’t communicate their price point to me; that said, I’d never turn down a glass. The real highlight of their portfolio is their Terlaner blends. At the entry level, the Terlaner Cuvée, is a serious wine that over-delivers. The Terlaner range blends Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc to varying degrees, starting with the Terlaner Riserva Nova Domus, a showstopper, and then moving up to the Terlaner Grande Cuvée Primo, which can compete with some of the top white wines around the world. How do they age, you might ask? Just take a look at the late release and limited Rarity portfolio (2008 Terlaner and 2009 Terlaner Riserva Nova Domus current vintages). These wines were vinified and refined for one year in large oak before being placed into a steel tank (2,500 liters) and allowed to mature on the lees for ten years or more. In fact, drinking their top wines young is a total disservice to what winemaker Rudi Kofler and his team have created at this bastion of tradition. If there was one stop to make while visiting the region that could give you a real sense of the Alto Adige experience, Terlano is it.”

    Eric Guido, Vinous (06/22)

    In Stock