Italy


Showing 1–12 of 35 results

  • Arianna Occhipinti Il Frappato 2020

    £31.49

    “What a pleasure it was to watch the dynamic Sicilian winemaker Arianna Occhipinti in Stanley Tucci’s CNN special “Searching for Italy,” featuring the food culture of Italy. Based in Vittoria, her vineyards see the Iblei mountains at the front and the Mediterranean Sea at the back. They are located 250 meters in elevation and because this area was underwater during the Miocene epoch, the soils range from clay, calcareous, tufo, gold sand, red sand and light sand. “The soils change every meter and so do the wines made from those sites,” says Arianna. In 2016, she started her Vino di Contrada series that sees three expressions of Frappato from three sites (PT, BB and FL). We can soon expect a new white wine to hit the market. Arianna is farming Grillo at 500 meters above sea level in the Contrada Santa Margherita in the town of Chiaramonte Gulfi. All of her wines are certified organic and made according to biodynamic methods.”

    Monica Larner, Wine Advocate (11/21)

    In Stock

  • Benanti Contrada Cavaliere 2019

    £36.99

    “Benanti is one of the first successful wineries on Etna and is an important voice in the ongoing quest to map out viticultural subzones on the volcano, identifying the best and most historic vineyard sites. Today, Benanti makes 15 wines (six are reviewed here) and has completed its conversion over to organic farming. The estate is introducing a new wine, the Etna Bianco Superiore Contrada Rinazzo, that is part of its contrada-specific bottlings. It has released a second vintage of another new wine, the Etna Bianco Contrada Cavaliere. Seven years ago, the Benanti family made two important vineyard acquisitions, one in Rovittello (Contrada Dafara Galluzzo) and one in Milo (Contrada Rinazzo).”

    Monica Larner, Wine Advocate (257)

    In Stock

  • Benanti Contrada Rinazzo Bianco 2019

    £44.99

    “Lemon zest joins sour green melon, tropical florals and sweet smoke as the 2019 Etna Bianco Contrada Superiore Rinazzo comes to life in the glass. This is deeply textural with medium-bodied weight, casting notes of papaya, young mango and minerals across a stimulating core of citrus-laced acidity. That said, the 2019 is also youthfully dense, tapering off with persistence but also a structural tension that promises many more good things to come. Like many of the best 2019 Carricante bottlings, the Rinazzo is enjoyable today, but it also has the ability to excel over medium-term cellaring. Drinking window: 2022-2029. 93 points”

    Eric Guido, Vinous (06/21)

    In Stock

  • Benanti Etna Bianco 2021

    £23.99

    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 Etna Rosso 2020

    £21.49

    Review to follow

    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 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

  • Donnafugata Ben Rye 2020 (375ml)

    £39.75

    Review to follow

    In Stock

  • Donnafugata Mille e una Notte 2018

    £67.49

    “The 2018 Mille e una Notte opens slowly in the glass, dark and floral, whispering its bouquet of violets and lavender. Coaxing brings forward depths of black currant, mocha and balsam herbs, while remaining youthfully poised. It washes across the palate with a silken wave of mineral-tinged black berries and savory spices, as a bitter tension mixes with fine-grained tannins toward the close. This finishes structured and classically dry, yet incredibly long, with hints of Baker’s chocolate and tobacco. The 2018 is wrapped up tight and in need of cellaring to show its best. Mille e una Notte is composed primarily of Nero D’Avola, Petit Verdot and Syrah, which is refined in new barriques for 14 months. Drinking window: 2024-2030. 92 points

    Donnafugata ranks among the largest estates of Sicily, and yet the level of quality across the board is remarkably high. When you add to that some very attractive labels and marketing, such as their partnership with Dolce and Gabbana, it easy to see why they are so popular. However, collectors shouldn’t hold this against them because at the core of this venerable estate are a number of wines that stand shoulder to shoulder with Italy’s best. The Passito di Pantelleria Ben Ryé is the first that comes to mind, and the 2019 tasted for this report is one of the most complete vintages I’ve ever tasted of it. The Mille e una Notte, a more international-style blending of Nero D’Avola, Petit Verdot and Syrah is usually at the top of the list as well; however this year, it was the difficult 2018 vintage that they had to contend with. Also worth paying attention to is the property’s growing portfolio on Etna, which hasn’t quite found its footing yet (in this critic’s opinion), yet it has the potential to be very strong. Add a selection of affordable deep reds and zesty whites, and you have a recipe for success.”

    Eric Guido, Vinous (06/22)

    In Stock

  • Donnafugata Tancredi Dolce & Gabbana 2018

    £43.75

    “The 2018 Tancredi Dolce & Gabbana is a deep purple color in the glass, with a dark and moody mix of plum sauce, black currants, grilled herbs and balsamic spice. lt’s silky-smooth and elegant with medium-bodied weight, hosting depths of black and red wild berry truits, hints of sour citrus and mocha. Fine tannins are left to linger through the incredibly long and lightly structured finale, as inner violet florals and hints of salted licorice taper off. The Tancredi is primarily composed of Cabernet Sauvignon, Nero d’Avola and Tannat, and it is refined for a year in new barriques. It’s a very pretty, yet deep, wine that needs a bit of cellaring to come fully into focus. Drinking window: 2023-2026. 91 points

    Donnafugata ranks among the largest estates of Sicily, and yet the level of quality across the board is remarkably high. When you add to that some very attractive labels and marketing, such as their partnership with Dolce and Gabbana, it easy to see why they are so popular. However, collectors shouldn’t hold this against them because at the core of this venerable estate are a number of wines that stand shoulder to shoulder with Italy’s best. The Passito di Pantelleria Ben Ryé is the first that comes to mind, and the 2019 tasted for this report is one of the most complete vintages I’ve ever tasted of it. The Mille e una Notte, a more international-style blending of Nero D’Avola, Petit Verdot and Syrah is usually at the top of the list as well; however this year, it was the difficult 2018 vintage that they had to contend with. Also worth paying attention to is the property’s growing portfolio on Etna, which hasn’t quite found its footing yet (in this critic’s opinion), yet it has the potential to be very strong. Add a selection of affordable deep reds and zesty whites, and you have a recipe for success.”

    Eric Guido, Vinous (06/22)

    In Stock

  • Frank Cornelissen MunJebel Bianco 2020

    £44.99

    “What can I say; Frank Cornelissen is at the top of his game. I think back over the last fifteen years that I’ve been tasting these wines, and I can honestly say that I have never seen such precision, purity and consistency as I’ve seen tasting the last few vintages. It all seems to have come to an apex with the 2019 crus. The best part is that 2020 is expected to be an even better vintage, and the Munjebel Rosso tasted in this report has heightened my anticipation.

    What has Cornelissen changed? Actually quite a bit. In my interview with him, he plainly stated, “My wines used to be anti-wines.” He came to Etna in the early 2000s with the idea that this was one of the few locations on earth where wine could be made without any manipulation. Mistakes were made as he learned along the way, but with time, the style of Frank Cornelissen became renowned. Unfortunately, they also became renowned for being undependable. I remember a time when I would tell people that finding a perfect bottle is very difficult; but when you do, it’s pure magic. It was because of this that many collectors became turned off to the brand, especially when you consider the price tag attached to the single-vineyard wines. Today, Cornelissen admits that his first ten years were very experimental and that he took things too close to the edge. This is still a winery that practices extreme biodynamic principles across their twenty-four hectares and eschews overhandling of the wines in the winery and cellar. However, there have been a number of changes to the process. For one thing, their team has grown, which allows for better precision pick dates and sorting. Aging and refinement is now completed in epoxy-lined fiberglass tanks, while the subterranean terracotta is reserved for small-batch projects. The wines are bottled sooner, but held longer prior to release in an attempt to capture more purity of fruit and “crunch”. Sulfur is now used, but only as necessary, and in very low doses. And then there are the stems, as since 2018 (a very difficult vintage that required drastic experimentation), Cornelissen has started using 10-15% of the stems in the fermentations. Taking all of this into consideration, one might expect the wines to have changed quite a bit, yet I still find Frank Cornelissen magic, just without the fear and guesswork of what to expect from bottle to bottle. They are ripe, sapid, full of life, with balanced structures and transparent to terroir. What’s more, they only get better the longer they are open in the bottle.

    As for the 2019 vintage in front of us, while many producers will talk about how happy they were with the year, Cornelissen will explain that the excellent result was one of selection, not nature. The winery dropped around 20% of their normal single-vineyard production in the sorting room to weed out the faulty berries within each bunch. In my opinion, the result is a selection of wines that readers will not want to miss.”

    Eric Guido, Vinous (06/22)

    In Stock