Italy


Showing 1–12 of 20 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 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 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 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 Rosso CD 2018

    £64.99

    “Frank Cornelissen arrived on Mount Etna in 2001 at the head of a small handful of producers who would go on to make this region famous, but fame was never his intention. The goal throughout the twenty-four hectares of Cornelissen vineyards and in the winery was to create an entirely holistic approach of capturing a snapshot of the natural ecosystem and biodiversity of Mount Etna within each bottle. This approach prohibits the use of any chemical fertilizer or pesticide in the vineyards. Only in the most difficult vintages will copper sulphate and sulfur be used, and only to prevent a complete loss of fruit. Yields are drastically reduced and harvests are completed late throughout all Munjebel, Frank Cornelissen’s single contrade or Crus, which are located in the northern valley of Mount Etna. The vineyards, many of which contain extremely old alberello or bush-trained vines, are between 600 to 1,000 meters in elevation, planted in a diverse mix of soils formed through thousands of years of volcanic activity on the Etna. In the winery, the focus is to add nothing, yet take nothing away. Fermentations start spontaneously and are completed in neutral tubs which naturally keep temperatures low. For the more structured wines, they are refined in epoxy-coated terracotta, buried up to their necks in volcanic soil. Most fans of wines from Etna have all heard this story, but if they never experienced the results, then it’s impossible to truly understand what Frank Cornelissen has accomplished. Throughout the area, there are many producers that are now turning out world-class wines, but finding one that obtains such depth of texture, the unique character of fruit aromas and flavors, and with the potential to mature evenly in a cellar, without the use of any winemaking wizardry, is not easy to do. Granted, these wines are extremely vintage-dependent, which they should be. At the top the wines can also be cost prohibitive, yet the entry-level Susucaru is a wonderful introduction to the house style. Also, readers should note that if mishandled or not stored correctly, these wines are likely to be adversely affected much quicker than other wines – but that is the price for experiencing the purity of Mount Etna; because in the end, that’s what Frank Cornelissen is bottling.”

    Eric Guido, Vinous (05/21)

    In Stock

  • Frank Cornelissen MunJebel Rosso CR 2017

    £59.99

    “The 2017 Munjebel CR sees fruit sourced from the Contrada Campo Re in Castiglione di Sicilia, Etna. Like other vintners on the volcano, Frank Cornelissen is interested in studying the single-vineyard characteristics and identities of his individual incoming harvests. This wine is bright and luminous, with a pretty ruby color that cedes to aromas of wild rose, volcanic ash and aniseed. Drink: 2019-2025. 91 points”

    Monica Larner, Wine Advocate (10/19)

    In Stock

  • Frank Cornelissen MunJebel Rosso CS 2017

    £58.95

    “Deep red-ruby. Licorice, fennel, black cherry, plum and smoke. Tactile and luscious with a sweet set of flavors similar to the aromas that are nicely framed by lovely acidity and polished tannins. Perhaps the most balanced and multifaceted of the Cornelissen single site wines in 2017. The CS on the label stands for Chiusa Spagnolo. Drinking window: 2020-2027. 94 points”

    Ian D’Agata, Vinous (08/19)

    In Stock

  • Frank Cornelissen MunJebel Rosso FM 2016

    £58.99

    “The 2016 Munjebel Rosso FM Feudo di Mezzo Sottana is another direct, steady and focused interpretation in this exciting lineup of new releases. This wine shows more fleshiness and volume with aromas of black fruit and tar, framed by smoked bacon and savory tobacco. You also get transparent varietal typicity with subtle notes of black olive, licorice and aniseed. Drinking window: 2018-2025. 92 points

    This is a terrific set of wines from Frank Cornelissen that gave me enormous pleasure to taste even in the more challenging 2016 vintage. These wines show just how far this charming and enormously creative vintner has come over the past decade.”

    Monica Larner, Wine Advocate (240)

    In Stock

  • Frank Cornelissen MunJebel Rosso MC 2018

    £64.95

    “Frank Cornelissen arrived on Mount Etna in 2001 at the head of a small handful of producers who would go on to make this region famous, but fame was never his intention. The goal throughout the twenty-four hectares of Cornelissen vineyards and in the winery was to create an entirely holistic approach of capturing a snapshot of the natural ecosystem and biodiversity of Mount Etna within each bottle. This approach prohibits the use of any chemical fertilizer or pesticide in the vineyards. Only in the most difficult vintages will copper sulphate and sulfur be used, and only to prevent a complete loss of fruit. Yields are drastically reduced and harvests are completed late throughout all Munjebel, Frank Cornelissen’s single contrade or Crus, which are located in the northern valley of Mount Etna. The vineyards, many of which contain extremely old alberello or bush-trained vines, are between 600 to 1,000 meters in elevation, planted in a diverse mix of soils formed through thousands of years of volcanic activity on the Etna. In the winery, the focus is to add nothing, yet take nothing away. Fermentations start spontaneously and are completed in neutral tubs which naturally keep temperatures low. For the more structured wines, they are refined in epoxy-coated terracotta, buried up to their necks in volcanic soil. Most fans of wines from Etna have all heard this story, but if they never experienced the results, then it’s impossible to truly understand what Frank Cornelissen has accomplished. Throughout the area, there are many producers that are now turning out world-class wines, but finding one that obtains such depth of texture, the unique character of fruit aromas and flavors, and with the potential to mature evenly in a cellar, without the use of any winemaking wizardry, is not easy to do. Granted, these wines are extremely vintage-dependent, which they should be. At the top the wines can also be cost prohibitive, yet the entry-level Susucaru is a wonderful introduction to the house style. Also, readers should note that if mishandled or not stored correctly, these wines are likely to be adversely affected much quicker than other wines – but that is the price for experiencing the purity of Mount Etna; because in the end, that’s what Frank Cornelissen is bottling.”

    Eric Guido, Vinous (06/21)

    In Stock