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: Lambrusco DOC, Emilia-Romagna
6. Lambrusco DOC, Emilia-Romagna
Forget the dishonest, double-litre screwcap stuff with the cheap paper labels – this is real wine. The revival is in full swing in Emilia and among its key players are small-scale grower-producers whose passion and commitment is revolutionising the perception of Lambrusco (in Italy at least). In some cases the reaction against industrial winemaking has led to challenging non-interventionist extremes, but within the new mainstream, quality vineyard management and handcrafted winemaking are rapidly restoring dignity to a unique local wine. (To appreciate the change, check out the refinement of the wines made by the traditional ancestrale method of bottle refermentation.) Glossing over distinctions between sub-varieties and production zones, Lambrusco can be divided into two broad categories: pale coral-hued, nervy and intense, made from Sorbara; and dark, fragrant, fruity wines from the top-quality Grasparossa grape. Both offer some of Italy’s best-value drinking.
Tenuta Pederzana, Grasparossa NV
Light mousse. Amazingly rich and complex nose with violets, dark chocolate, plums and black cherry and then autumn leaves, wallflowers, cinnamon and graphite. Fresh and full on the palate with a gentle fizz, and long juicy finish. 19pts/20
Price: £10.70 Astrum
Venturini Baldini, Reggiano NV
Inviting mousse. Nose of black cherry and rhubarb, with hints of mint and cinnamon and a big floral underlay. Gentle expansion on the palate, light but very tasty, lovely juicy fruit with fine tannins, brisk acidity and a dry, minerally finish. 18.5pts/20
Price: £9.99 Negozio Classica
Other recommended producers:
La Battagliola, Bellei, Cavicchioli, Chiarli, Fiorini, Vittorio Graziano, Medici Ermete, Fattoria Moretto, Paltrinieri, Zanasi