When thinking of Italian wine, Amarone, Barolo and Chianti may be what most readily springs to mind, but Richard Baudains reveals a treasure trove of original yet overlooked wines just waiting to be discovered. See his pick of 10 wines from the most exciting Italian terroirs here...
Unchartered Italy: Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, Sicily
10. Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, Sicily
The ‘G’ in DOCG guarantees a whole raft of quality factors in a wine, but not, as the case of Cerasuolo di Vittoria demonstrates, increased visibility. Sicily’s first and to date only DOCG has somehow been overlooked. Cerasuolo does not have the jammy fruit and chewy textures of the international-style reds invented in the 1990s, nor does it have the headline-grabbing attention of Etna wines, with their celebrity owners and old bush vines. Yet the wines from this less-fashionable southeast corner of the island have a unity and authenticity that make them a true reflection of their terroir – one which, perhaps surprisingly given the baking hot climate, expresses aroma and an exhilarating dry intensity rather than weight and power. Nero d’Avola gives the tannins and the earthiness and Frappato adds the floral aromas and juiciness. Look for a palish shade, medium bodied drinkability, huge scope for spot-the-aroma discussions (some tasters even pick out a suggestion of anchovies) and a distinctly salty character in the finish.
Cos, Classico 2009
Big, fragrant nose ranging from red fruits through floral-spicy to wild herbs and tobacco leaf with a note of peatiness at the back. Dry, firm and irresistibly more-ish on the palate with a return of the spicy floral character and a long savoury finish. 18.5pts/20
Price: £16.95–£18.49 Bat & Bottle, Buon Vino, Green & Blue, Noble Green, Swig
Sweet cherry nose with hints of cinnamon. Distinctly dry, tannic palate with a pure varietal notes of savoury herbs and bitter chocolate and a mouthwatering touch of sour plum. Intense salty finish. 17pts/20
Price: £9.99 Cambridge Wine, Enotria, Luvians, Noel Young, Selfridges, Swig
Other recommended producers:
Avide, Gulfi, Occhipinti, Valle dell’Acate