In the world of wine, smaller is often regarded as better, with boutique estates and cult micro-cuvées taking the top spots. But, as Ian D'Agata discovers, large companies with their diverse portfolios and huge volumes of wine, can offer big surprises...
Best buys from Italy’s winemaking giants
Cavit, Altemasi Graal Riserva Metodo Classico Brut, Trentino 2004
By far the best wine made by Cavit, this is a worldclass bubbly. Complex thanks to age, this boasts breadcrumbs, butter and apricots.
Price £33–£37 All About Wine, Hangingditch
Valdo, Prosecco Extra Dry, Veneto NV
Apricot, green apple and buttercups. Fresh, uncomplicated but well made and satisfying.
Price NA/UK valdo.com
Torre Rosazza, Friulano, Colli Orientali del Friuli 2008
One of Friuli’s best estates. Great Pinot Grigio, Ribolla Gialla and Friulano. This latter wine ages well, with marzipan, pear, herbs and peach.
Price £20 Premier Wines
La-Vis, Vigneti di Montagna Pinot Grigio, Trentino 2011
Green apple, pear and white flowers, with sneaky concentration. Much better than other Pinot Grigios at this price point.
Price £10 Waitrose
Cantina Tollo, Madregale Bianco, Terre di Chieti, Abruzzo 2012
Easygoing wine made from Chardonnay in stainless steel. Bright and crisp, an uncomplicated glass.
Price £6.99–£10 Exel Wines, Les Caves de Pyrène, Roberson Wine
Nino Negri, 5 Stelle Sfursat, Valtellina, Lombardy 2009
Amarone-like, but more refined, thanks to the Nebbiolo grape. Macerated red cherries, cocoa and sweet spices: a memorable experience.
Price £41–£47 AG Wines, Exel Wines, Winedirect
Rocca delle Macie, Chianti Classico Riserva, Tuscany 2010
Wines improving by leaps and bounds; the Riserva Famiglia Zingarelli is another winner. Savoury and fresh, with ageing potential, from a fantastic Tuscan vintage.
Price £16 James Nicholson
Rocca di Montemassi, Le Focaie Sangiovese, Maremma, Tuscany 2010
Fresh and easygoing, juicy yet savoury, perfect for Sunday brunch.
Price £9–£18 Underwood Wine Warehouse, James Fearson, Woodford Wine Room, Wimbledon Wine Cellar
Pasqua, Amarone della Valpolicella, Veneto 2008
Full-bodied, rich and long, with coffee, cocoa and red cherry aromas and flavours. Good with stews, or break your Port habit and try with Stilton.
Price £30 Mumbles Fine Wines
Santa Margherita, Impronta del Fondatore Malbech, Veneto 2011
A rare Italian Malbec, so this wins on novelty factor alone. Perhaps more Cahors-like than Argentina, with coffee, cocoa and tarry notes.
Price £12 Exel Wines
Castello Monaci, Liante Salice Salentino, Puglia 2010
Bright red fruits with black cherry, tar and flinty nuances on the juciy finish. Perfect with anything barbecued.
Price £10–£12 Customary Wines, Just Fine Wines