Across the UK there are wine drinkers who are lucky enough to have a local, independent wine merchant. Some are historic, having served their communities for decades if not centuries, whilst there have also been many start-up enterprises. The ‘indies’ are a blessing in these days of supermarkets, big online players and offline chains – not that those necessarily do a bad job, but they cannot stock the more individual, low production wines that can be found in the smaller stores. Not only that, but the independent merchants tend to be owned and staffed by wine enthusiasts who offer the personal advice and service that makes the wine buying experience so different from prowling the supermarket wine aisles. Thankfully, the vast majority now sell online too.
In the town of Nantwich in Cheshire, Edencroft Fine Wines is a model family company, established 26 years ago and boasting the sort of range of carefully chosen fine wines and spirits that makes it a joy for the wine lover, as well a staff who are passionate about their products and always willing to guide and advise.
Though their range spans the globe, Italy has recently become something of a passion for owner Mark Brookshaw, who asked if I would like to taste a selection of his current favourites and some of their latest Italian lines. Italy remains an extraordinary wine producing country, from the mountainous, snow-capped hillsides of the far north agains the Dolomites and Alps, to the baking heat and near desert of Sicily and the far south.
And of course the long, ‘boot’ shape of the country means that as well as its diversity of climatic and soil conditions, influence from the Adriatic and Mediterranean oceans plays its part in almost all areas. The wines tasted below span some of Italy’s most famous regions, including Piedmont and Tuscany, and wines from a little further off the beaten track, from regions like Puglia and Abruzzo. It also features rosé as well as white and red wines and is a very impressive selection of modern Italian wines.
Edencroft is online at edencroft.co.uk and ships nationally and internationally, using a secure and fully insured delivery service, with orders over £100 shipped free to the UK mainland.
(2020) From Abruzzo in the east of Italy, Pecorino has seen something of a revival in the last decade or so, but much of it quite cheap and cheerful stuff, made in large volumes: highly quaffable, if undistinguished. The Tiberio family's Pecorino is a bit different, from a single hillside vineyard planted on clay, fruit from the 20-year-old vines is fermented with wild yeasts and winemaker Cristiana Tiberio strives for balance, freshness and authenticity. This wine offers an invigorating blast of intense citrus on nose and, especially, palate, as decisive as any higher-acid brisk and bracing style, but there is also delicacy, some white flowers on the nose, the wild yeast adding complex nutty and lightly earthy characters, but the bone-dry fruit and acid axis driving to the end of a terrific, if uncompromising wine.
(2020) A very unusual, but highly successful, blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Petit Manseng, Traminer and Semillon from the coastal Maremma, fermented with wild yeasts and only a very small percentage spending a few months in larger French oak barrels. The Sauvignon is vivacious and bright on the nose, but with a candied quality and a little buttery richness too, so it is both vivid and rounded. In the mouth beautifully sweet and ripe orchard and stone fruit flavours have great freshness thanks to the cool, lightly salty, lime-streaked acidity. Lovely.
(2020) Pouring a medium-pale, quite burnished, orangey-pink, this has dry seeds and herbs on the nose, a little spice, and then a bright melon and pomegratate fruitiness. Dry and savoury on the palate, there is a nicely sour and tart edge of underripe plum and raspberry, giving this a very gastronomic, digestible feel. A sweetness to the fruit and creaminess makes it very approachable, within an overall framework of savouriness.
(2020) From the famouse Barone Ricasoli of Chianti, this IGT Toscana rosé is blended from Sangiovese and Merlot, and is an absolute dead ringer for a Provence pink, from the attractive, plump bottle to the pale colour and dry, herb and red fruit aromas. It is very different from the Cantele rosé tasted alongside, with a very light the palate, perhaps the fine lemony acidity would benefit from just a little more fruity substance lying over it, but it finishes with a nice tang of cranberry or rasberry and has the savoury credentials to make a very good food wine, maybe with a prawn pasta or risotto.
(2020) From the renowed Morellino di Scansano producer Elisabetta Geppetti of Fattoria le Pupille, a rare Tuscan rosé, coming from the coastal Maremma, and made from 100% Syrah, some of the vines dating back to 1990. Another unusual aspect, is that 10% of the wine was aged in barrels of Acacia wood. The colour is a pale, but orangey-pink, the nose fragrant with small red berries, a hint of sweet blossom, and a little touch of peppery spice. In the mouth, it at first seems off-dry, perhaps there's a gramme or two of residual sugar, but that's soon swept up in the savoury berry fruitiness, lemony acidity and more of that lingering spice.
(2020) This is a classic Primitivo from Salento in Puglia, and a particularly bold and juicy example emphasising the exuberant dark fruit profile of the wine. Spices, damson plum and blackcurrant on the nose suggests a certain plushness, and that's borne out on the palate, where a creamy weight of black fruit and supple texture fill the mouth, great sweetness to the fruit, but a very nicely sour and savoury edge of bittersweetness: plum skins and tangy orange acids, the chocolaty tannins and six months in oak barrels adding even more smoothness to the finish. Great value here.
(2020) This Tuscan red sees Sangiovese blended with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, grown in the coastal Maremma, with only around 10% spending time in oak. It's something of a fruit-bomb this - not at all overblown, but filled with a buoyant, creamy blast of ripe, fleshy cherries and blackcurrant that soars from the glass, backed up with just a hint of pencil-shaving finesse. In the mouth that joyous explosion of ripe but nicely savoury fruit comes through, all supple and smooth black fruit flavours, but a chocolaty tannin and bright cherry skin acid axis offers a lovely counterpoint. Approachable, delicious, and it put a warm smile on my face.
(2020) From one of the biggest names of Barolo and Barbaresco, but here turning his hand to the more humble Docletto, but still a serious interpretation that spends 12 Months in French oak barrels, 25% new. Really vibrant, deep purple in colour, the nose is highly aromatic, lifted, violet-touched and elegant, but with a core of juicy blueberry and ripe plum, a hint of Amarena cherries and some depth of cocoa too. In the mouth it is smooth, ripe and full of wonderfully bittersweet flavours, the agile acidity and taut tannins giving a bit of authority, but the sweet-fruited joy of the wine always threatening to break free. Given the heritage I am sure this will cellar for a few years too.
(2020) South African born Manfred Ing has been at the winemaking helm of this biodynamic estate for many years, in that time further refining their already exquisite wines, red and white. From an excellent year, this is Sangiovese from vineyards in Greve, Radda and Gaiole, and it spent 14 months in barriques and larger barrels, all French oak, with 5% new. I love the refinement and distinction of the nose here, that reminded me very much of a fine Pauillac, with graphite and a touch of cedar and black olive over pert, but ripe black fruits. In the mouth it is beautifully balanced: racy and alert thanks to the finesse and juiciness of the tannins and acidity, and the keen cherry and raspberry edge to the black fruits adding even more precision. Fabulous and cellar-worthy.