June 2015 - Letchworth Festival Wine Tasting - Italian Wines

June 2015 - Letchworth Festival Wine Tasting - Italian Wines

There was no tasting session in June, instead we joined the other wine groups supporting the Letchworth Festival at Letchworh Golf Club. This year Kim and Teresa chose Itallian wines for the festival – the sort that Inspector Montalbano would drink...

White Wines

Vittoria Pinot Grigio IGT Venezie 2013

Grape

Pinot Grigio

Taste

Admirable and genuine pinot grigio with clean, rounded and fruity.

Alcohol %

12.5

Price

£6.25

Pecorina Abruzzo, Contesa 2014.

Grape

Pecorino

Taste

Pecorino grape, overlooked for many years, makes one of Italy’s best full dry whites

Alcohol %

13.0

Price

£9.50

 

Knowledgeable Italians recognise that the pecorino grape, overlooked for many years, makes one of their best full dry whites. Rocco Pasetti has been at the forefront of its revival and makes lovely wines that age well.

 

Rocco Pasetti is one of the most dynamic and talented producers we know and a great champion of wines of the Abruzzo. He was for many years the chief winemaker of the Roxan cooperative.

 

Contesa means ‘quarrel’ in Italian and is a nod back to Rocco’s winemaking great grandfather, who fought a hard battle with a local landowner to preserve his own vineyards back in 1903.

Etna Bianco Fondo Filara, Nicosia 2013

Grape

Predominantly from local carricante with some catarratto

Taste

With haunting apple and hawthorn aroma and full bone-dry flavour.

Alcohol %

13.0

Price

£11.50

 

Less white than red wine is made on Etna but it is very fine with haunting apple and hawthorn aroma and full bone-dry flavour. Made predominantly from local carricante with some catarratto, grown at over 650 m, this delicious wine offers a good match for a shellfish risotto.

Nicosia was founded at the end of the 19th century as a wine trader by Francesco Nicosia, and is still run by his great-grandson Carmelo with his sons Francesco and Graziano.

 

Carmelo has been responsible for the recent restructuring of the company’s vineyards: in 2002 he bought six hectares at Trecastagni, on the south-east slopes of Mount Etna overlooking the sea, replanting the land with nerello mascalese and nerello cappuccio for red and catarratto and carricante for white. The volcanic, mineral soils impart a richness to the wine, whereas the altitude here provides lower temperatures, leading to fresher, more elegant character.

 

The family also owns 30 hectares in the province of Ragusa in Vittoria, planted with frappato and nero d’avola grapes, famous for making the region’s Cerasuolo red wine. This is a green and fertile land with a Mediterranean climate and limestone soils.

Rose Wines

Brindisi Rosato Vigna Flaminio, Vallone 2014

Grape

Negroamaro with a dash of Montepulciano

Taste

A lovely southern Italian pink full-flavoured, generous and characterful, try this with grilled vegetables or an octopus salad. A rosé with real personality.

Alcohol %

13.0

Price

£7.25

 

Basking in the balmy, Adriatic-cooled microlimate of the Salento peninsula in Puglia, on Italy’s heel, Agricole Vallone is a large, multi-tasking agricultural concern, with 170 hectares of vines interspersed with other crops, mostly olive trees, artichokes and vegetables. It was founded in 1934, but like others at the time, sold grapes to the local co-operative. It was only in the late 1990s that it began bottling its own wines, but it quickly made its name with its flagship wine, Graticciaia, a partially barrel-aged red made largely from negromaro grapes dried on mats (graticci) in the autumn sunshine. Designated IGT Salento, this is a very special wine with powerful, concentrated flavours that age beautifully.

Red Wines

Nero d'Avola La Ferla, Sicilia 2012

Grape

Nero d’Avola

Taste

The bouquet has a hint of black pepper. Plenty of ripe fruit on the palate and gentle soft tannins combine to make an adaptable friendly red.

Alcohol %

13.0

Price

£6.75

 

The Canicatti co-operative is based inland from Agrigento on Sicily’s south-western coast, although its 480 members cultivate 1,000 hectares of 60 different types of vines across the entire winemaking area of the island. They are eager to express the ancient nature of Sicily’s vines and water-deprived soils in the character of their wines, without rejecting the benefits of modern winemaking practices.

 

The gently undulating hills of vineyards – which rise to 600 m above sea level – are made up of mineral-rich soils (including potassium, sulphur and calcium), making them like a laboratory for winemakers keen to experiment and see what the various vineyard areas of Sicily can produce.

 

Despite the size of the vineyard area covered by their growers, the co-op employs very strict growing guidelines and only accepts grapes of a certain quality level. The poor soil quality results in low yields, so growers can monitor the ripeness of each parcel of vines individually and harvest at the best time. They grow a wide array of indigenous varieties in the hope that they’ll be able to showcase the huge amounts of regional variation in this small but important winemaking region.

 

One of the most important of these regional varieties is nero d’Avola, grown for the co-op’s La Ferla range of wines. These grapes are sourced from vines in the areas surrounding Palermo, Agrigento, and Caltanissetta. The vines are grown on sandy silt soils with limestone influence, and have an average age of 12 years.

Bricco Rosso Suagnà Langhe Rosso 2009

Grape

Blend of dolcetto and nebbiolo

Taste

Ripe, full and mellow, and fantastic value for money.

Alcohol %

13.0

Price

£7.25

 

A lovely barrel-aged blend of dolcetto and nebbiolo grapes; ripe, full and mellow, and fantastic value for money.

 

The owners, Manfredi, are merchants and growers specialising in Piedmont wines. Being based in Dogliani they specialise in dolcetto, producing an excellent example from their Bricco Rosso vineyard, but they are also well-placed to buy bulk and blend intelligently.

The Costs

Wine

Price paid

per bottle (£)

UK Price

(£)

Vittoria Pinot Grigio IGT Venezie 2013

4.01

6.25

Pecorina Abruzzo, Contesa 2014

7.02

9.50

Etna Bianco Fondo Filara, Nicosia 2013

9.05

11.50

Brindisi Rosato Vigna Flaminio, Vallone 2014

7.00

7.00

Nero d'Avola La Ferla, Sicilia 2012

4.40

6.75

Bricco Rosso Suagnà Langhe Rosso 2009

5.54

7.25

 

Total paid for 6 bottles each of 6 wines is £222.12 - Cost in the UK for same wines is £291.00