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: Ciro DOC, Calabria
9. Cirò DOC, Calabria
Cirò is an anonymous little town with a down-atheel look, located exactly at the point of the spur on the boot of the Italian peninsula. There is nothing about it which might intimate the very high standard of winemaking of the leading wineries there, or the cutting-edge vineyard research done in the vast empty spaces inland. In fact, the message of the quality of the wines from this corner of Calabria has been slow to filter through to the outside world. The indigenous variety is Gaglioppo, a grape by all accounts introduced by the Greeks – and possibly the source of the wine presented to the winner of the ancient marathon. Tending to be low on acidity and colour, and with potentially coarse tannins, it is not an easy grape to vinify but when the producer gets its right, young Cirò wines have cheerful red cherry and floral aromas and a wonderfully soft, round, gulpable character. They also have an ability to marry with oak, which makes the toothsome Cirò riservas one of the top bargains from the south of Italy in their category.
Santa Venere, Classico 2009
Sweet red cherry fruit on the nose with a touch of white chocolate and typical hints of saltiness at the back. Generous, dry and herby on the palate with lovely ripe, chewy, whole food tannins and a warm, round finish. 18.5pts/20
Price: £10.50 Astrum, WoodWinters
Librandi, Duca San Felice, Classico Superiore Riserva 2008
Rich, ripe and plummy aromas with distinctive orange peel and sweet spice hints. Soft, round, mid-weight palate with fine tannins and a long finish with a return of plum and cherry, a touch of bitter herbs and a classic salty-mineral nuance. 18pts/20
Price: £17.99 Amordivino, Ann & Vin, Enotria, Fine Wine Co, Swig
Other recommended producers:
Caparra & Siciliani, Fattoria San Francesco, Ippolito, Senatore Vini