All of the wines below are available by the bottle via The Wine Society, but are also part of a mixed dozen on sale as “The Everyday Italian Mixed Case,” through until 6th September 2015. The Society’s buyers rarely put a foot wrong, but I have to say they have conjured up some splendid bargains amongst this fascinating selection. On offer whilst stocks last.
Mandrarossa, Vermentino Terre Siciliane 2014, Sicily, Italy
The cheapest white of this selection and a wine I really enjoyed. From the excellent Mandrarossa co-op, it is bursting with vivacious fruit aromas, lots of punchy lime and little exotic lychee glimpses, before a palate that is dry but suffused with peachy fruit sweetness. Medium-bodied and deliciously balanced with citrus and a lick of saline in the finish, it’s a lovely quaffer and general all-rounder and an absolute steal at the price. 87/100. £5.95, The Wine Society.
Sella & Mosca, Torbato Terre Bianche Alghero 2014, Sardinia, Italy
This Sardinian wine weighs in with only 12.5% alcohol, and opened with a definite though very gentle spritz, perhaps just a little dose of carbon dioxide to keep it fresh before bottling. Fresh-sliced apple and pear aromas, followed by a palate showing a good level of sweetness in a light-bodied frame, but bone dry on the finish, lemon and apple core dryness extending into a fresh, seafood-friendly finish. 86/100. £8.50, The Wine Society.
J. Hofstätter, Weissburgunder 2014, Alto Adige, Italy
Aromatic white grapes like Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Bianco are specialities of Alto Adige up against the Austrian border in northern Italy. Only 12.5% alcohol and this is very attractive with a mealy sense of richness to pear and apple, but a little burgeoning hint of apricot or nectarine too. In the mouth it is textured and sweet-fruited, but the delicious Alpine freshness of the acidity and twist of herby bitterness are just delightful. 89/100. £10.95, The Wine Society.
Nicosia, Frappato Sicilia 2014, Sicily, Italy
There are a few examples of Sicily’s charming Frappato around now, but this bright purple example is a corker – that is, it is so flamboyantly perfumed and exuberantly fruity, which in many ways is what Frappato does best. The nose brims with buoyant, quite Beaujolais notes of summer berry fruits, hedgerow flowers and exotic hints of clove and spices of the Souk, with a fresh and crisp palate, only 12.5% alcohol, that surprises by being bone dry and savoury, light on its feet with a crunch and just a nip of tannic grip. 87/100. £7.95, The Wine Society.
Pappadino, Biferno Rosso Riserva 2009, Molise, Italy
What a cracking little wine this is, arguably my favourite and best value nomination from this selection. A blend of Montepulciano and Aglianico with a little of the white Trebbiano, aged for a long time in barrel, but freshened by the addition of a little younger wine. Perhaps it’s that young wine that gives such a cherry and plum-pie lift to the wine, before deep fruit of damsons and liquorice fills in. Juicy, smooth and satiny in texture, there’s opulence and yet cherry freshness on the palate in a delightful and balanced wine that, tasted blind, I may have pitched at twice the price. 89/100. £7.50, The Wine Society.
Torre del Falasco, Valpolicella Ripasso 2013, Veneto, Italy
A Ripasso, fermented on the dry skins of Amarone, this is a classic Valpolicella blend of Corvina and Rondinella aged in barrel and wonderfully deep and autumnal in character. The nose has hints of mint and tobacco, a plush blueberry darkness of fruit, and definite hints of violet and kirsch-like lift. In the mouth it makes its presence felt with 14% alcohol, but that super-sweetness of fruit floods across the tongue, the bittersweet cherry and plum-skin grip is savoury, and the tight tannins are spicy and slick. It’s a hell of a lot of wine for the money once again. 89/100. £8.95, The Wine Society.