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Wines from Italy

(Prices and stockists in the UK are listed in brackets; as a rough guide £1 = US$1.50. Date of tasting is indicated at the end of each note as month/year)

See also:

Report on a visit to Chianti Classico (series)
Spotlight on Friuli: Italy's best whites?
Italian wines from Les Caves de Pyrene

My blog entries on Italian wine

Featured producers: 

I Clivi di Ferdinando Lanuzzo Clivi Brazan 2004 Collio Gorziano, Friuli, Italy
This is a Tocai from 50-70 year old vines. Made without any oak, with natural ferments and gravity bottle filling by hand after the wine has spent two years on its own lees. Even though it's had some bottle age, this is pale in colour and has a fresh, slightly floral nose of herbs, apples, pears and wax. The palate has a wonderful minerally complexity and a concentrated yet quite linear fruity character. Satisfying, pure wine that rewards a bit of attention. The producer has a nice website: http://www.clivi.it/. 91/100 (13.5% alcohol; imported into the UK by Fields, Morris & Verdin - can't find any stockists online, alas - guide price, £15-20). 12/08

Vesevo Greco di Tufo 2007 Italy
12.5% alcohol. Quite neutral on the nose, with a distinctive minerality. The palate is rounded and fresh with some rich, almost spicy tropical fruit notes sitting alongside some crisp, fresh mineral characters. Full flavoured, intense and delicious, this has plenty of personality and a long minerally finish. 90/100 (£10.99 Majestic) 12/08   

Silvano Follador Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze 2007 Italy
Quite complex, tight and fruity with lovely open lemon and mandarin fruit, as well as a bit of soft ripe pear character. Fruit dominates – this is approachable and tasty with no rough edges. 89/100 (£14.95 Great Western Wine) 12/08

Steffano Accordini ‘Acinatico’ Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2005 Italy
Remarkable stuff, made with air-dried red grapes. Really deep coloured, it has a nose like a fresh young Vintage Port, with vivid, sweet dark cherry and blackberry fruit, and a bit of spicy freshness. The palate is powerful with rich, sweet dense fruit and notes of tar and earth. There’s a real richness and presence here. Currently it’s a little square and modern, but with time I reckon this will develop some warm complexity. While it’s fun now, it will be singing in five to ten years. 91/100 16% alcohol. (UK agent: Enotria) 12/08  

Fattoria Le Fonti Vito Arturo Sangiovese 2004 IGT Toscano, Italy
This single vineyard wine is complex and alluring, bringing together modernity and tradition in the same bottle. With a slightly lifted, volatile edge, the nose is lush with ripe, sweet, liqueur-like dark cherry and blackberry fruits combining with spicy, minerally, earthy notes. The palate shows ripe, sweet fruit together with that trademark Sangiovese rasp of earthy, spicy structure and grippy tannins alongside some bitter plum notes. Finishes long and savoury with notes of chocolate and tar. A really complex, interesting example of late-picked, ripe Sangiovese. 92/100 (£22.99 Cadman Fine Wines) 10/08

Barone Ricasoli Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico 2006 Tuscany, Italy
Dark coloured, this has a lovely vibrant nose of dark cherries and bitter plum, with some spicy notes. The palate has fresh spicy, plummy fruit with some attractive bitter notes as well as firm tannins. It's fruit driven and quite modern, but distinctly spicy and savoury with real Sangiovese character. 90/100 (£13 in the UK, agent Enotria) 10/08  

Sottimano Maté 2007 Vino Rosso da Tavola, Piedmont, Italy
From a 1.1 hectare vineyard in Treiso, this is a varietal Brachetto fermented with indigenous yeasts, and it's gorgeous. The nose is extravagantly aromatic with sweet cherry, herb and plum notes that leap out of the glass. The palate is light, fresh and subtly sappy with cherryish fruit together with some earthy, herby notes keeping things savoury. Think grown-up Beaujolais on steroids and you are pretty much there. Just perfect with antipasti, or even for sipping on its own - and it won't object to being chilled lightly before serving. There's a real elegance to this wine that I love. 91/100 (Available in the UK from http://www.lescaves.co.uk/) 09/08

Massia Vecchia Bianco 2006 Maremma, Toscano, Italy
65% Vermentino, with some skin maceration. Orange coloured, this has lovely aromatics: fresh, lifted floral notes with lemons, herby notes and a hint of sweetness. The palate has some lovely spiciness with herb and mineral notes. Quite beautiful, and almost like a red wine in terms of its structure. 94/100 (£48 bottle at Terroirs wine bar) 11/08

Carso Zidarich ‘Teran’ 2005 Friuli, Italy
This is a varietal Teran/Terrano (a special sort of Refosco). It’s powerful, minerally and super-fresh with notes of gravel and citrus. Lovely fruit purity, with black cherry, plum and raspberry. Vivid, intense and delicious. A sappy, grippy character keeps it fresh. 91/100 (£38.50 bottle at Terroirs wine bar) 11/08

Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle 2006 Vallee d'Aoste, Italy
From the Cave du Vin in Morgex, this is a pure, fresh mountain wine that's part of the Vini Estremi group (http://www.viniestremi.com/). Weighing in at just 11.5% alcohol, it's delicate and minerally with a subtle apple and herb flavour and high acidity. There's a lovely bright savouriness to it: remarkably refreshing stuff. I do like mountain wines. 88/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene) 03/08  

Marks & Spencer Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie 2007 Italy
A bright, fresh, modern expression of Pinot Grigio with lemon and lime fruit coupled with some herby depth. It’s nicely savoury with a crisp, dry character. A versatile white. 84/100 (M&S) 06/08  

Negro Roero Arneis 2007 Italy
Bright, fresh full flavoured white with a distinctively savoury, minerally character, and a little nutty waxiness under the citrussy fruit. The defining quality here is the minerality, which makes this a really useful food wine. Reasonably serious. 88/100 (£9.95 Great Western Wine) 07/08

Buglioni Il Clandestino 2007 Bianco Veronese IGT Italy
From Valpolicella country, this is a really attractive fruit focused white. The nose has complex herb, smoke and mineral layers as well as some fresh white peach notes. The palate is focused and fresh with some gentle melony fruit as well as a stony, minerally finish. 89/100 (£8.55 Great Western Wine) 07/08  

Guerrieri Rizzardi Bardolino Classico 2007 Veneto, Italy
Light red in colour, this is like a very dark rose more than a red wine. Sweet, bright cherry fruit dominates the nose and palate. It's quite rounded, with a rich texture, a hint of sappiness and just a touch of spicy tannin on the finish. Joyful and quite drinkable, but would work well with a range of foods, too. There's a place for this sort of wine. 87/100 (£7.49 Longford Wines, Davy's wine shop) 07/08

Monte Tondo Casette Foscarin 2004 Soave Classico, Italy
Yellow/gold colour. Complex nose of lemon, mandarin and herbs leads to a palate that is mouthfilling, dense and rich, with citrus fruit, honey and a bit of nutty depth. There are some pithy, bitter notes on the finish. It's a complex, food-friendly white that's peaking now. 91/100 (£12.30 Great Western Wine) 07/08

Guerrieri Rizzardi Costeggiola 2007 Soave Classico, Italy
A single vineyard blend of Garganega and Chardonnay. Quite deep yellow colour. Fresh and herby with citrussy notes and a slightly pithy bitterness. A full flavoured wine with a tangy finish. Distinctive. 89/100 (£8.99 Longford, Davy's, Fortnum & Mason, Harrods)  07/08

Tamellini 2006 Soave, Italy
Full yellow colour. Rich and a bit nutty with a sweet, mealy, toasty richness and some melon fruit, as well as some finer honeysuckle notes. Sophisticated and broad with a distinctive sweetness. 89/100 (£9.99 Cadman Fine Wines) 07/08  

Canaletto Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2005 Italy
This appealing, savoury red wine has a vivid, spicy dark fruits aroma. In the mouth there’s a hint of meatiness to the chunky, spicy dark fruits. It’s amazingly food friendly with good acidity and some spicy earthiness on the finish. 84/100 (£4.99 Sainsbury) 02/08

Di Barro Clos de Chateau Feuillet 2005 Torrette Vallee d'Aoste, Italy
This alpine red, from high altitude vineyards, is supremely elegant. The nose shows smooth, quite pure red fruits with a really subtle herby, sappy edge and a hint of sweetness. It's on the palate the wine excels, with ultra-smooth, elegant red fruits backed up by subtle herbiness and fine-grained tannins. It's a really pure, natural tasting wine of surprising concentration, despite it's rather understated personality - it doesn't force itself on you, but if you peek below the surface, there's some depth and seriousness waiting to show itself. Bottled elegance. 93/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene, c. £10 retail) 12/07  

Azienda Agricola Cos 'Pithos' 2006 Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, Sicily
The story: two grape varieties - Nero d'Avola and Frappato - grown biodynamically and fermented in terracotta amphorae. No sulfur dioxide is used until bottling, so this wine is pretty 'natural'. Bottled in a beautiful squat, wide bottle. The nose has a haunting perfume, combining red fruits of great purity with fine minerally, spicy, earthy notes that frame the fruit quite precisely. Think of the aromatic profile of a great red Burgundy, warmed up a notch or two by the sun. It's the sort of nose you can keep returning to, and each time you attend you get something different. The palate is medium bodied and savoury, with an elegant earthiness. It has a spicy, subtly meaty complexion that makes me think of brettanomyces, but I feel stupid suggesting this, because it is hinting at a wine fault, when this wine is most certainly not faulty - it all pulls together to produce a profound result. But, at the same time, this is a relatively understated sort of wine that whispers, rather than shouts. The finish is long and dry. I think it's fantastic stuff, and I reckon this will develop nicely over the next 15 years or so, although it is drinking now. Strange to think, but that with its traditional elevage, this is a wine that could have been made 1000 or even 2000 years ago. 93/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene) 11/07

Casa Girelli Virtuoso Chardonnay 2004 Trentino, Italy
13% alcohol, extruded synthetic closure. Deep gold colour, which is a bit off-putting, but then we're talking Italy here, and up in the north they like to give their whites a bit of skin contact. Unusual nose: there's some lemony freshness, but also some more intense - severe, almost - savoury, toasty nose that's showing some complexity. There's a bit of herb, too. Fruity, fresh, but deep, rich, toasty and nutty on the palate. A bit grapey. An unusual but strangely satisfying wine that won't be to everyone's taste. Drink young. Very good+ 87/100 (£7.99 D Byrne, Wine Times) 06/07

Villa Cafaggio San Martino 2001 IGT Toscana
This is a wine I'm enjoying quite a bit, but which leaves me unsure about whether it's truly serious or not. It's a wine made from different clones of Sangiovese in Chianti (so why is it an IGT Toscana?), aged in new small oak barrels. Weighing in at 14% alcohol this is quite deep coloured. It has a fresh, bright nose that's more red fruit than black, with some lifted spice complementing the tight fruit. The palate is mouthfilling, tannic and quite extracted, dominating by bright red fruits with a vivid spicy, grippy character that leaves the mouth feeling quite dry. There's certainly a lot going on here: I really like the freshness of fruit, I appreciate the savouriness, but I struggle a bit with the rather agressive spiciness, some of which I suspect has its origin in the new oak. Is this wine overextracted and lacking in elegance? Will the dry tannins outlive the fruit? Or is it a serious wine caught early in its youth? I like the fact that it's not soupy and overripe, so I'm going to give it the benefit of the doubt. Very good/excellent 93/100 (c. £23 Waitrose, D Byrne, Sandhams, Upton on Severn Wines, Satchells, Wine Times, Wright Wine) 05/07

Villa Cafaggio San Martino 2000 Toscana, Italy
Wonderful nose: tarry, spicy and minerally with rich sweet red and black fruits. Nicely complex. The palate is elegant with pure smooth fruit and spicy structure. Good balance here. Very good/excellent 93/100 02/06

Poggio Torselli Chianti Classico 2003 Italy
Ripe, sweet cherry fruit nose with some spicy 'old cask' and mineral/tar notes. The palate is midweight with a tarry, tannic, subtly herbal edge to the cherry and red fruits. A drinkable food wine, but perhaps a little dilute to be really good. Sappy and savoury, I guess. Very good+ 87/100 (£10.95 Flying Corkscrew) 01/07

Carbonalia Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2001 Italy
Dark and spicy with plummy blackcurrant fruit on the nse, backed up by a tarry, spicy character. The palate is quite rich and generously fruited but with a savoury, spicy, slightly earthy finish. Very good+ 89/100 (Waitrose) 02/06

Isole dei Nuraghi Barrua 2002 Sardinia
Really enticing open, elegant perfumed nose with sweet plummy fruit, savoury, earthy spiciness and smooth sweet vanilla oak combining well. Lots going on here. The palate is also quite complex with lots of contrasts: there’s dark, savoury, tannic structure but also some smooth ripe fruit. The overall impression is one of savouriness with a strong earthy, minerally character. Confidently poised and nicely concentrated: notably Italian, and quite modern without being ‘new worldy’. Very good/excellent 94/100 12/05  

Nieve Barbaresco Cru Serraboella 2000 Cigliuti, Italy
A lovely complex Italian red, showing perfumed, fresh sweet edged spicy red fruits on the nose. The palate is structured and expressive with dense, full, spicy red fruits. Bold and intense with a long future ahead of it: a fantastic wine. Very good/excellent 94/100 (£36.75 Berry Bros & Rudd) 10/05

Casaloste Chianti Classico 2004 Italy
Sweet dark cherry fruit nose with a savoury twist and some tarry minerality. Slightly roasted. The palate is a little sappy with midweight fresh cherryish fruit. Nice acidity gives it a savoury, food friendly personality. Juicy but perhaps a little lacking in concentration considering the price tag. Very good+ 88/100 (£14.95 Jeroboams) 01/07

Cecchi Monteguelfo Chianti Classico Riserva 2002
Light colour. Evolved earthy nose leads to a soft, savoury palate with an earthy character and a drying finish. Drinkable and not without some charm, but disappointing. Very good 82/100 (£9.99 Thresher, Wine Rack) 01/07

Banfi San Angelo Pinot Grigio 2005 Toscana, Italy
Really nice white with a bright, subtly herby, slightly lemony nose and a sense of transparency to it. There’s a lemony tang, together with some herbiness and some grapiness. It’s a really nice Italian white. 89/100 (£7.99 Majestic) 03/07

Buondonno Chianti Classico 2004 Tuscany, Italy
Bright dark cherry fruit nose with a bit of tar and some minerals. The palate is fresh and fruity, quite light, savoury and spicy. Some interest, but overall, a little light. 87/100 (£14.99 Selfridges) 11/06

Luciano Sandrone Barolo Cannubi Boschis 1996
Sweet, rounded and smooth with good weight and concentration, together with a mineral streak and sime freshness. Nice tannic structure. Quite youthful with lovely ripeness of fruit: serious stuff in a modern style. Very good/excellent 94/100 11/06

Luciano Sandrone Barolo La Vigne 1996
Smooth and expressive with lovely sweet red fruits balanced by spicy structure and nice smooth tannins. Superbly balanced and quite elegant. Almost Burgundian: a very stylish wine. Very good/excellent 94/100 11/06

Roberto Voerzio Barolo Sarmassa di Barolo 1998 (magnum)
Fresh, bright nose with a hint of tar. Bright and focused. The palate is fresh with tarry dark fruits. There’s some firm tannin and a bit of earthiness. Tight and complex with a long life ahead of it. Very good/excellent 93/100 11/06

Feudo di Santa Tresa Nìvuro 2003 Sicilia
A blend of Nero d’Avola and Cabernet Sauvignon, this deep coloured red has a sweet, brooding dark fruits nose. It’s bold, spicy and quite dense with a nice savoury character to the chunky fruit. Smooth and dark. Very good+ 88/100 (£8.99 Oddbins, Thresher) 06/06

Feudo di Santa Tresa Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2004 Sicilia
Blending Nero d’Avola and Frappato, this is an interesting red with pure, sweet red berry fruits and a liqueur-like purity. It’s fresh, bright and fruity with a smooth, elegant character and supple texture. Finishes spicy. Very good+ 88/100 (£7.39 D Byrne, Regency Wines, Trenchermans) 06/06

Tresa Avulisi Nero d’Avola 2003 Sicily
Ripe, sweet spicy nose with rich fruit. Palate is rich and dense with sweet fruit and smooth spicy structure. There’s a bit of oak, but ripe fruit to match it. Good concentration: a dense, but easy going southern wine. Very good+ 89/100 (£12 Thomas Panton, Wright Wine, D Byrne, Satchell’s of Burnham Market, Trenchermans) 06/06  

Trulli Chardonnay 2003 IGT Salento, Italy
Quite deep yellow. Rich, open buttery nose leads to a fat palate with broad, soft fruit. A bit oxidised? Some appeal though. 78/100 (£4.99 Somerfield, Sainsburys, Coop) 11/05

Trulli Pinot Grigio 2004 Pavia, Italy
Super-fresh bright, crisp easy drinking white with a nice slightly savoury, herby character. A bit grippy, too. Very good 80/100  12/05

Castello di Bossi Berardo Chianti Classico Reserva 2000 Tuscany, Italy
Intense, savoury, earthy spicy fruit dominates with a slightly medicinal edge. There some acid and tannin giving structure. It’s intense, taut and full, with a typically Italian slightly bitter plummy character. Needs time. Powerful stuff. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£19.99 Laithwaites) 12/05  

Fiano di Avellino dei Feudi di Santa Gregorio 2005 Campania, Italy
Now for something a little different, from the Fiano di Avellino grape. A deep yellow/gold colour, this full bodied white has complex flavours of minerals, spice and intense lemony fruit. There’s a nice contrast between the intense, rich fruit and some grapefruity freshness. Thought-provoking stuff and highly food compatible. Very good/excellent (£9.99 Waitrose) 12/06

Castello Vicchiomaggio La Prima Chianti Classico Riserva 2001
100% Sangiovese. This is an interesting take on Sangiovese. There’s a green leafy freshness to the minerally dark fruits – it reminds me of a full flavoured Loire red. Quite perfumed with lovely freshness of fruit, this is understated, elegant and well balanced, with a hint of tobacco leaf. This will no doubt age well, and elegance is the hallmark. Don’t come here if you want power and overt ripeness. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£20.39 everywine.co.uk) 11/05

Carpineto Chianto Classico Riserva 2000
Wonderful dark, tight, savoury black fruits nose with a smoke and tar edge, together with some minerals. The palate is complex and savoury with wonderful acidity and spicy tannic structure. There’s some gravel and bitter plum which meld well with the earthy tannins. A really top quality classic-styled Chianti. Intensely savoury and best with food. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£13.50 Averys) 11/05

Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino 1998 Tuscany, Italy
Italian wines are a bit under-appreciated in the UK, but tangy, food friendly Tuscan reds like this are worth discovering. This isn’t a flashy, rich sort of wine oozing sweet fruit; rather, it’s savoury, tight, spicy and a bit earthy. A more serious, intellectual style that you can drink now or cellar for a decade. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£24.99 Majestic reduced to £16.99 until 31st January 2006) 11/05

Carpineto Chianto Classico Riserva 2000 Italy
Wonderful dark, tight, savoury black fruits nose with a smoke and tar edge, together with some minerals. The palate is complex and savoury with wonderful acidity and spicy tannic structure. There’s some gravel and bitter plum which meld well with the earthy tannins. A really top quality classic-styled Chianti. Intensely savoury and best with food. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£13.50 Averys) 11/05

Santo Stefano Prosecco Extra Dry NV, Italy
Crisp, fruity nose is nice and fresh, with a lemony edge. The palate shows lots of presence with some bright, slightly sweet lemony fruit contrasting nicely with good savoury acidic depth. Very fruity but great balance. Delicious. Very good/excellent 87/100 (£7.95 H&H Bancroft Wines) 11/05

Neive Briccoserra 2001 Cigliuti, Italy
What a superb wine. It has a beautiful nose of dense, sweet, full red fruits with a lovely smoothness. The palate is concentrated and dense with lovely vivid savoury fruit. Quite chewy, but smooth at the same time. Fantastic. Very good/excellent 94/100 (£21 Berry Bros & Rudd) 10/05

Alois Ladeger Riff Pinot Grigio 2004 Tre Venezie, Italy
Lovely fresh, minerally and focused bright fruit on the nose. Hint of smokiness. The palate is minerally, savoury and subtly spicy. A delicious fresh white wine that’s good value for the quality on offer. Very good+ 89/100 (£6.99 Tesco) 09/05  

Livio & Giorgio Marega Tocai Friulano 2004 San Floriano del Collio, Friuli
Delicious stuff. Fresh bright nose shows lovely fruit and a slight nuttiness. On the palate there’s a lovely freshness to the supple, nicely textured herby fruit. Fresh and expressive. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£6.60) 04/05

Livio & Giorgio Marega Malvasia Istriana 2003 San Floriano del Collio, Friuli
Fantastic nose: really pretty. It’s quite weighty but perfumed, with ripe peachy fruit and some freshness. Fantastic palate has lovely texture, great acid and some freshness. Rich. Very good/excellent 93/100 (£10.45) 04/05

Poggio Argenteria Morellino di Scansano ‘Capatosta’ 2002 Tuscany
Dark, sweetly fruited and quite tarry, this is very forward and enticing. The palate is soft and richly textured with a savoury, spicy edge. Very satisfying and deep. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£12) 04/05

Poggio Argenteria Finisterre IGT 2002 Tuscany
A blend of Alicante Bouschet (there’s quite a bit of this in this part of Tuscany) and Syrah. Very sweet open ripe black fruits dominate the nose: deep pure fruit. The palate shows lovely soft, pure, bold ripe fruit. Very concentrated and rich with a luscious texture. Lots of fun here. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£17.40) 04/05

Cueso Custera 2001 Sicily
Nice, fresh, slightly cherryish spicy red fruits are the key feature here. Good freshness. A nice wine that is drinking well now. Very good+ 88/100 (£11.95) 04/05

Palari Rosso del Soprano 2002 Sicily
A blend of Nerellos. Nice bright, spicy, meaty red fruits dominate, with some vanilla notes. The palate is modern and spicy with savoury dark fruits. Quite oaky. Very good+ 88/100 04/05

Gianni Masciarelli Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ‘Villa Gemma’ 2000 Abruzzo
Very dark colour. Tight nose of sweet ripe fruits. The palate is rich, concentrated and quite extracted, displaying rich dark brambly fruits. It’s a tannic wine in a souped-up bold new world style. Impressive up front but perhaps lacking real character. Very good+ 91/100 (£25) 04/05

Les Cretes Petite Arvine Vigne Champorette 2004 Valle d’Aosta
From vineyards 600–700 m high, this white has a fresh, youthful bright fruity nose. It’s very crisp on the palate with a good weight of brilliantly fresh fruit. Very good+ 89/100 (£11) 04/05

Les Cretes Torrette 2003 Valle d’Aosta
A wonderfully aromatic red. Fresh, primary, vibrant red fruits nose. Quite thrilling. The palate is supple and clean with nicely textured red fruits. Fantastically fresh. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£11.85) 04/05

Innocenti Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 1999 Tuscany
Dark, savoury and spicy with a lovely open nose. Savoury, tannic and expressive with an almost liqueur-like edge to the fruit. Interesting and deep. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£9.65) 04/05

Innocenti Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2000 Tuscany
Lovely richness to the savoury, spicy red fruits nose: nice freshness and savoury depth. The palate is quite tight with lovely fine-grained spicy tannins. A serious effort: just slightly rustic, but in a nice way. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£9.65) 04/05

Alberto Loi Cardedu ‘Leyla’ Cannonau White 2004 Sardinia
Interesting nutty slightly oxidised nose. Soft, sweet textured palate with more nutty, honeyed and oxidative characters. Very good+ 87/100 (£8.95) 04/05

Alberto Loi Cannonau de Sardegna Riserva 2000 Sardinia
Lovely stuff, showing nicely textured berry fruit with a lovely smooth, savoury structure. Smooth but with some presence. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£10.95) 04/05

Tua Rita Rosso dei Notri 2003
Sweet open nose of cherryish fruit. Bright with a liquoricey edge. Fresh, clean, slightly meaty fruit on the palate. Expressive. Very good+ 88/100 (£7.65) 04/05

Tua Rita Redigaffi 2002
Very dark coloured. Sweet open nose red and black fruits with a more serious spicy edge. The palate is concentrated, full and dense with ripe fruit and a spicy character. Made in a modern style this is tannic but with quite fresh fruit. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£60.05) 04/05

Maria Cvetić Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2001
Lovely vibrant spicy, savoury red fruits with a savoury, tarry, slightly earthy edge. Dark and brooding. There’s a nice fullness to the palate which is tight, savoury and spicy with good acidity. Nice savoury tannic structure and some minerality. Very good/excellent 92/100 04/05

Macchiona La Stoppa 2000 Emiglia-Romana
Dark, dense, slightly rustic nose that is meaty, spicy and smoky. The palate is open with a lovely vivid spicy character. Perhaps a bit rustic and funky, but a lovely red wine. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£13.95) 04/05

Tenuta di Trinoro 'La Cupole di Trinoro' 2000 Italy
Andrea Franchetti is fanatical about his wines, and this is quite stunning. A blend dominated by Cabernet Franc, it has a wonderful perfumed nose that is distinctly gravelly and minerally with ripe, tarry fruit and some smoky notes. The palate is structured and open with minerally notes and firm but smooth tannins. Striking stuff. Excellent 95/100 (£34.31 Corney & Barrow) 02/04

Vallone ‘Vereto’ Salice Salento Rosso 2000 Italy
A textbook, slightly rustic Italian food wine. It has a lively spicy, slightly animally nose with some lifted acid. The palate is dense, spicy and savoury with high acidity and some tannic structure. Quite traditional and very food compatible. Very good+ 86/100 (£4.99 Thresher) 11/03

Via Nova Amarone della Valpolicella 2001 Veneto, Italy
I was pleasantly surprised by this wine. Amarone is made from grapes that have been dried on racks after harvest for a month or two, and it doesn’t come cheap, yet this entry level Amarone has a lot going for it. The nose is open, smooth and sweetly fruited, leading to a dense, smooth elegant palate. There’s some spicy structure underlying the sweet fruit. A perfect wine for contemplation, alongside some good cheeses. (£10.99 Sainsbury) 09/04

Rodaro Colli Orientali del Friuli Ribolla Gialla 1998 Italy
Distinctive fresh, nutty, slightly waxy wine with good acidity and quite a rich texture. Smoky edge. Very good+ 89/100 03/04

Podere Ai della Macina ‘Pogio Roncone’ 2000 Morellino di Scansino, Tuscany, Italy
I don’t know a lot about this wine other than I think it’s great. Deep coloured. Wonderful expressive nose of perfumed black fruits with a tarry, herby edge. Very nicely defined. The palate is savoury and quite spicy, with elegant dark fruits, a herbal edge (although this is well interated and avoids being overtly green) and some structure from the good acidity and tannins. Very fresh and expressive. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£9.99 Jeroboams)  11/04

Cusumano Greciano Sicilia 2003 Italy
Quite deep coloured. Nicely packaged. Fresh, gently herby nose gives way to a herby, slightly nutty palate with a distinctive savoury twist. A fresh, modern full flavoured white with a bit of personality. Very good+ 85/100 (£4.99 Oddbins) 01/05

Fattoria Le Fonti Vito Arturo 2000 IGT Toscana Sangiovese
Since 1994 Paolo Caciorgna has been consultant winemaker at Le Fonti, and this fairly serious wine is from a single vineyard replanted in 1991. It’s modern, yet it’s classic, at the same time, showing a distinct sense of place. A slightly faded red colour, the nose is vivid and bright with spice and complex dusty red fruits. There’s some tar, here, too, together with acid freshness. The palate is intensely savoury and initially very tight, with firm tannins, a dusty earthiness, and high acidity. There’s new oak present, but this meshes well with the intense spicy fruit. Nothing stands out awkwardly. With time in the glass it opens out: fantastic stuff, very Tuscan, but modern with it in the best possible way. Very good/excellent 94/100 (£19.99 Cadman Fine Wines)  04/05

Fattoria Le Fonti Chianti Classico Reserva 2000 Tuscany, Italy
Subtly tarry, spicy dark fruits nose with an earthy, herby seriousness. The palate is savoury, tarry and spicy with quite a rich texture and some earthy notes, coupled with good acidity. It’s chewy, spicy and minerally with a tannic finish – slightly awkward at the moment, but this is a fairly serious wine in a semi-traditional style. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£16.99 Cadman Fine Wines) 05/05

Meroi Sauvignon 2003 Colli Orientali del Friuli, Italy
Very rich, exotic, in-your-face nose of sweet, rich, herb-tinged melony fruit with a distinctive vanilla and cream edge, coupled with some spiciness. The palate is bold, rich and dense with powerful creamy oak and deep herby fruit. The acidity is there to keep things fresh, but this is a striking rich wine with big oak impact. I’m not totally sure about it, although I suspect some will love it. Complex and full. Very good+ 89/100 (£14.99 Cadman Fine Wines) 02/05

Meroi Ros di Biuri 2002 Colli Orientali del Friuli, Italy
Minimalist label is appealing. Dark coloured wine with a lovely tightly-focused nose of bright red and black fruits with a roasted, tarry, minerally edge. Fresh and bright. The palate is cool climate with dense, spicy, slightly mineralic fruit braced by high acidity. Modern, focused and sophisticated with good acidity. Food compatible. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£19.99 Cadman Fine Wines) 02/05

Poliziano Rosso di Montepulciano 2004 Tuscany, Italy
This is a serious wine at an affordable price, which nicely combines modern and traditional aspects to fashion a classy red of broad appeal. A vivid colour, this has a lovely focused, savoury intensity to the pure, smooth red fruits. The palate shows restrained pure fruit with a savoury edge to it. Really lovely. (£8.99 Sainsbury) 05/05

Macaulan Dindarello 2004 Veneto, Italy
This is a really nice, sweet grapey white made from the Moscato grape. It’s quite expensive, but you’re paying for the perfumed finesse this wine possesses – it’s not just any old sweet white, but something to sip contemplatively. The nose is pretty, grapey and fresh with an aromatic honeyed character. The palate is rich and thick textured; quite sweet, but with good balance. If you are going to pair it with anything, it would work best with fruit-based desserts. Very good/excellent 90/100 (£7.89/half, Oddbins) 04/05

Ramato Pinot Grigio 2004 Veneto, Italy
Seven days’ maceration on skins gives a pale salmon/copper coloured wine with an intensely fruity, slightly herby nose. The palate has a lovely subtly herby cranberry fruit character: quite deep with a tangy, savoury finish. A moderately serious wine. Very good+ 88/100 (£7 Divino Wines) 09/05

Collosorbo Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1998 Italy
Aged in large slavonian oak barrels. This has an old-fashioned but lovely complex, perfumed, rather refined nose with a sweet menthol-like spicy edge to the red fruits. There are also subtle green notes and some old cedary wood hints. The palate is spicy and dry with a tarry, savoury streak, lots of concentration and a dry, but elegant structure. A rich, savoury style. Very good/excellent 93/100 (£30 DiVino wines) 08/05

Carminucci Naumachos Rosso Piceno Superiore 2002 Italy
Very deep red/purple colour. Enticing nose of lush, sweet dark fruits with hints of black cherries. The palate shows super smooth structure underneath the concentrated, dark, lush fruit. Modern and rich with some earthy, spicy structure under the fruit. Quite a serious wine but also accessible. Very good/excellent 91/100 (£10.50 Di Vino Wines) 08/05

Alvolo Alovini Aglianico del Vulture 2000 Italy
Lovely rich, dense, slightly tarry savoury nose: very full and savoury. Concentrated savoury spicy palate with lots of rich dark fruits. This is a serious, tight, structured spicy wine with a savoury character. Full and fruity, but lots of structure hiding under the fruit. Very good/excellent 92/100 (£16 Divino wines) 07/05

Catabbo Tintilia del Molise DOC 2004 Italy
Dark coloured. Rich, spicy black fruits (black cherry, blackberry) dominate the nose which is quite rich and fruit driven with a chocolatey edge. The palate is showing predominantly dark fruits. It’s in a modern mould but isn’t oaky. Quite low acidity with high-ish alcohol. It’s a bit of a conundrum: rich and ripe, yet quite elegant and complex. Perhaps this is one for the long haul? Very good/excellent 90/100 (£13.50 DiVino wines) 08/05

Baglio Curatolo Villa Tonino Nero d'Avola 2002 Italy
Vivid red black colour. Sweet red fruits, spice and tar on the nose: forward and appealing. The palate is vividly fruity with some sweetness and spice, vanilla and tar notes. It's all wrapped up in firm, savoury tannins. A modern, forward, spicy wine that is very attractive and represents a brilliant bargain. Very good+ 89/100  (£5.36 Moriarty, www.moriarty-vintners.com) 01/04

Villa Russiz Sauvignon 2001 Collio, Italy
High-toned bright, expressive nose is aromatic and fruity, with some grassy character. The palate is bright and fresh with grassy, herby notes. Light, fragrant white with some class. Very good/excellent 91/100 08/03  

Castello del Terricio Lupicaia 1995 IGT Toscana, Italy
Very rich menthol and tar nose. The palate is rich and slightly sweetly fruited with herby, spicy notes. Interesting stuff: almost Australian! Very good/excellent 90/100 11/03

Poliziano Rosso di Montepulciano 2001 Italy
Deep coloured wine. Vibrant spicy nose with forward, tarry fruit. Quite rich, ripe, spicy palate on the palate with a firm spicy structure and good acidity. Assertive and approachable now, this is a great food wine, distinctively Italian. Very good+ 88/100 (Sainsbury £8.99) 05/03

Tedeschi Rosso La Fabriseria 1998 VdT Veneto
Toasty, tarry, slightly roasted nose with herbal complexity to the fruit. The palate is savoury, tarry and drying out a little, but showing some nice herbal complexity and a bit of leather and spice, too. Very good+ 87/100 (originally c. £11 Majestic) 05/03

Isole e Olena Collezione de Marchi Syrah 1994 VdT Toscana, Italy
This wine could be used as a primer on Brettanomyces. Slightly cloudy with a herby, barnyardy nose with some leathery notes. Savoury, spicy palate with a slight metallic tang. Animally. The brett obscures any other character this wine possesses, so at its best it’s a very rustic, savoury table wine if you don’t mind brett. Good 05/03

Inama Soave Classico Superiore 2001 Italy
Soave is normally a dull, thin, joyless, cheap white wine. Not this example, from one of the region’s leading producers, Inama. Made from the little-known Garganega grape, it is a concentrated, richly flavoured dry white wine with herby, minerally character. Distinctive and quite individual, but worth every penny. Very good/excellent (£7.99 Sainsbury) 01/03

Allora Primitivo 2001 Apulia, Italy
Hand harvested from old vines. Deep coloured this has an attractive forward nose of spicy ripe cherry and berry fruit, with some chocolatey, oaky notes. The palate is herby, ripe and spicy with good acidity and some tannins, together with some spicy warmth from the oak. A very assertive, fruity wine with some spicy savouriness. Very good+ 09/02

Allora Aglianico 2001 Basilicata
Brightly fruited nose showing cherryish fruit together with a chocolatey edge and some spiciness. The Palate is robust with drying, spicy tannins. A substantial, chunky wine with good acidity. Modern style, but lots of character. Very good+ 09/02

Anselmi Capitel Foscarino 2000, IGT Veneto
This supercharged Soave (though Anselmi bottles under the broader IGT Veneto appellation) has a fresh, lemony floral-edged nose. The savoury nutty palate has a rich texture and a citrussy edge. With good concentration this is quite a serious bone dry white which may age some more. Very good/excellent (£12 La Vigneronne) 04/02

Calatrasi Terre di Ginestre 651 2001, Sicilia
A blend of Nero d’Avola and Syrah from vineyards at an altitude of 651 metres, hence the name. Very deep red/black colour. Multilayered liqouricey berry fruit on the nose with a herbal, spicy edge. The palate shows notes of coffee and chocolate together with some intense, plumy fruit. Quite savoury with a spicy finish which provides balance to the sweet fruit. New world in style but with some Italian character, this is a substantial wine that may well develop in the bottle over the medium term. Very good/excellent  09/02

Giorgi Oltrepo Pavese Pinot Nero Frizzante 2001, Italy
Highly unusual, this is a fizzy white Pinot Noir with a yeasty, baked apple nose. Light, fresh, yeasty palate with good acidity and some bready savouriness. Apples and nuts dominate. Very good+ 11/02

Cesani Vernaccia di San Gimignano ‘Sanice’ 2000
Late-picked Vernaccia blended with 10% Chardonnay. Quite a deep yellow/gold colour. The nose displays a nutty, straw-like character with a toasted edge. Very unusual nutty, savoury palate with lots of davoury herby complexity and quite low acidity. It has an intense, almost oxidised character. Quite a classy, unusual wine, full of interest. Very good/excellent (£8.25 Wannop Wines) 08/02 

Pieropan ‘Le Colombare’ 1999 Recioto di Soave Classico
A brilliant sweet wine. Herby, spicy nose with a tpuch of thick-cut marmalade character and a lemony lift. Great balance on the palate between the herby, spicy, marmaladey fruit and the honeyed sweetness. Good texture and acidity, and an attractive bitterness on the finish. Don’t serve this too cold. Very good/excellent (£18/half bottle
Wannop Wines) 08/02

Scarpa Barbaresco ‘I tetti di Nieve’ 1978, Piedmont, Italy
(Tasted blind, note as written) Deep coloured. Intriguing spicy, earthy, slightly meaty nose with rich, sweet medicinal elements. The palate is quite wild, initially showing quite a severe medicinal nature with lots of tannic structure. In the glass it opens out to show rich spicy, balsamic complexity. Quite brilliant, in a robust sort of way. Excellent  06/02

Pieropan Soave La Rocca 1999, Italy
Attractive nutty/floral nose is savoury and intense. Full flavoured palate has a honeyed, nutty edge with some minerality. Good concentration and very attractive. Very good/excellent 05/02

Tedeschi Capitel del Nicalò 1997 Valpolicella Classico Superiore
Made from part dried grapes. Classy front label, but absurd rear label badly translated from Italian – it’s complete nonsense. Lovely savoury nose shows medicinal, herby, slightly smoky character with raspberry/cherry fruit. The palate is quite austere with high acid and tannin, but good concentration, displaying a slightly rustic, roasted character to the cherry fruit. Chunky stuff, it’s characterful and satisfying, but really needs food. Very good+ (Waitrose £5.99) 4/02

Da Luca Primitivo/Merlot 2001 Puglia, Italy
60% Primitivo, 40% Merlot, aged in French and American oak barrels for 6 months. Substantial wine showing chunky, savoury berry fruit and good acidity. An attractive food wine. Very good (£4.99 Waitrose) 10/02

Emporio Barrel Aged Syrah 2000 Sicilia, Italy
Deep coloured. Very sweet forward vanilla- and cinnamon-laced nose. Palate shows rich, sweet berry fruit. Plenty of oak influence here. A crowd pleaser. Very good (£5.99 Waitrose) 10/02

Natural State Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2001, Italy
50% aged in French oak for 7 months. Inky red/purple colour. Vivid sweet fruit on the nose with a savoury edge. Very appealing chunky modern fruit on the palate with some spicy structure. Lovely modern wine with lots of intense fruit. Modern but very good. Very good+ (£4.99 Waitrose) 10/02

Villa Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 1999 Tuscany, Italy
Slightly fading rim. Lovely nose of tea, leather herbs and spice. Expressive savoury, spicy palate with good acidity and spicy dry tannins. Classically styled and old fashioned in a nice sense. Very good+ (£9.99 Waitrose) 10/02

Tenuta Nuova Casanova de Neri Brunello di Montalcino 1996 Piedomont, Italy
Aged in 500 litre French oak barrels for 30 months. Wonderfully expressive nose displays vivid herb and spice notes. Expressive savoury, spicy palate with good acidity. A brilliant old world wine in a slightly old fashioned style. Excellent (£19.50 Waitrose) 10/02

Campagnola Vignale Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1998, Veneto, Italy
Grapes for this wine are left to dry on racks until February. Rounded, herby caramel-edged nose. This leads to a rich-textured dense palate with some sweetness to the herby cherry fruit. Clean and finishes dry. Very good+ (£12.99 Waitrose) 10/02

Tedeschi Monte Olmi Amarone Classico 1999, Veneto, Italy
Harvested by hand in early October and dried on racks until mid January. Red black colour with a fading rim. Intense sweet nose with rounded herbal fruit. Rich-textured palate is intense with ripe, sweet fruit, firm tannins and good acidity. Quite tight now. With good concentration this is intense and unusual. Very good/excellent (£26.50 Waitrose) 10/02

Pasqua Maruggia Rosso del Santo 2001
70% Sangiovese, 30% Primitivo. Deep coloured, this shows taut, savoury black fruits on the nose with a liquoricey richness. The palate displays juicy, savoury, tarry-edged black fruits with a firm spicy edge. Really lovely, and brilliant for the price. Very good+ (£3.99 Majestic) 10/02

Banfi Chianti Classico Riserva 1998 Tuscany
Deep coloured wine. Tight herby nose with some tarry undertones. Good concentration on the palate with firm, savoury spicy character and good acidity. Quite bright. Very good+ (£9.99 Majestic) 10/02

Ceretto Barbera d’Alba Piana 1999 Piedmont
Classy packaging. Brightly coloured wine in a lovely fruit-forward style, displaying spicy-edged, tarry fruit and good acidity. Very appealing. Very good+ (£9.99 Majestic) 10/02

Ca’ del Pipa Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso 1998
A delicious wine in a rich style. Deep coloured, with a nose of sweet, forward berry and cherry fruit. The palate shows a good concentration of ripe, sweet fruit with a rich texture and just enough acidity to hold things together. Very good+ (£9.99  Majestic) 10/02

Tedeschi Amarone della Valpolicella 1998
Brooding liquoricey, herby nose with clean berry fruit. The palate shows a good concentration of rich, sweet, spicy fruit with some herby notes and good acidity. A clean, modern style and needs some time to develop; I’ve scored this for potential. Very good/excellent (£11.99 Majestic) 10/02

Ca’ del Pipa Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1997
Lovely slightly cheesy nose with some volatile acidity and tarry cherry fruit. The chocolatey palate is rich, lush, slightly sweet and caramelly with a porty edge and good acidity. An old fashioned style but very attractive and unusual. Very good/excellent (£15.99 Majestic) 10/02

Terre da Vino Barolo La Mora 1998
Slightly muted leathery nose leads to a firm, savoury palate with high acidity. Quite closed at the moment. Good/very good (£11.99 Majestic) 10/02

Pio Cesare Barolo 1998
Mid-coloured with a fading rim. Some sweet herby lushness to the nose. Chewy, spicy savoury palate with good acidity and some authentic Nebbiolo (Barolo’s grape) character. Firm tannins make this quite challenging, but there’s potential for further development. Very good+ (£19.99 Majestic) 10/02

Ceretto Bricco Asili Barolo Prapò 1998
Red/brown colour with a fading rim. Lovely seamless but intense herby, spicy nose. The palate is concentrated with firm, spicy structure underpinning the expressive herby, leathery fruit. Authentic and quite exciting, with lots of development ahead. Excellent (£34.99 Majestic) 10/02

Ceretto Bricco Asili  Barbaresco Bernadot 1999
Taut, intense herby, spicy nose. The palate is firmly tannic but already showing some spicy complexity. Savoury and tight, this is a little closed but with great potential. Very good/excellent (£34.99 Majestic) 10/02

Massimo Romeo Vino Nobile de Montepulciano 1998, Tuscany, Italy
Tiny production from this family owned estate in Gracciano (just 1100 cases). Massimo Romeo has planted the traditional Mammolo and Pulcinculo grapes in addition to Sangiovese, Malvasia and Canaiolo. The expressive, bright nose displays lifted raspberry fruit and some spicy complexity. The palate is concentrated and juicy with lots of spicy complexity and firm tannins. Mid-weight and expressive, this is brilliant traditionally styled stuff. Very good/excellent (£14.95 Berry Bros) 04/02

Aziende Agricola San Biagio Barolo ‘Sorì del Rovere’ 1998, Piedmont, Italy
From a family-owned estate in La Morra, this is the top cuvee. It’s a little disappointing, though. Bright red colour (quite deep for Barolo). The shy nose shows some oak and a bit of spicy, herby fruit. This leads to a medium-bodied spicy, oaky palate that’s not yet showing much of the interest and character that good Nebbiolo is capable of. Covert tannins. Needs time? Very good (£19.95 Berry Bros) 04/02

Aziende Agricola Oasi degli Angeli ‘Kurni’ 1998, Italy
From a 1.4 ha vineyard high up in Cupra Marittima, and made from Montepulciano grapes. The estate is owned by Marco Casolanetti and Eleonora Rossi, who are aided by consultant winemaker Giovanni Basso. This shows a wonderfully deep, liquoricey nose with a lifted herbal, slightly leafy edge. It has an amazingly rich, full palate with a fascinating texture and lots of bright full acidity. It’s hard to describe: almost liqueur like, with great concentration. An intense, juicy yet complex red wine that is very individual. Very good/excellent (£34.95 Berry Bros) 04/02  

Campania Tomas & Giesen Fiano di Avellino 2000, Campania, Italy
Made by Fabrizio Thomas, who has a minimal-intervention approach. It’s an unusual white wine with lots of interest. Rich, nutty fruit on the nose, leading to a savoury, rich nutty palate. Very good (£9.95 Berry Bros) 04/02

Fattoria La Monacesca Verdicchio di Matelica 2000, Marche, Italy
La Monacesca, a 22 ha estate, was established in 1966 by Casimiro Cifolia, and is now run by his son Aldo. It’s an interesting nutty white wine. Old fashioned, striking nutty nose with some lifted acidity. Savoury, rich mineralic palate. Very good+ (£8.95)

Campania Tomas & Giesen Fiano di Avellino 2000, Campania, Italy
Made by Fabrizio Thomas, who has a minimal-intervention approach. It’s an unusual white wine with lots of interest. Rich, nutty fruit on the nose, leading to a savoury, rich nutty palate. Very good (£9.95 Berry Bros) 04/02

Fattoria La Monacesca Verdicchio di Matelica 2000, Marche, Italy
La Monacesca, a 22 ha estate, was established in 1966 by Casimiro Cifolia, and is now run by his son Aldo. It’s an interesting nutty white wine. Old fashioned, striking nutty nose with some lifted acidity. Savoury, rich mineralic palate. Very good+ (£8.95 Berry Bros) 04/02

Laimburg Lagrein Dunkel Reserva 1998 Alto Adige, Italy
An unusual wine made from the Lagrein variety by the local university oenology school. It’s a bold red/black colour with a wonderfully sweet nose of ripe berry fruit. Palate is ripe, sweetly fruited and underlain by some sweet, spicy oak. Dense and full in a modern fruit-driven style, but there’s some tannin hiding underneath. Very good+ 12/01  

(Azienda Agraria Bianchi Bandinelli) Villa di Geggiano 1998 Chianti Classico
A historic 13th century property that has been in the hands of the Bandinelli family since 1527, and now run by the brothers Andrea and Alessandro Boscu Bianchi Bandinelli. The grapes are fermented in temperature- controlled stainless steel tanks and the wines are then matured in a combination of small barriques, butts and 700- litre casks. There’s a tarry edge to the vivid spicy nose: very typical of Sangiovese. The palate shows savoury cherry fruit with lots of spiciness, high acidity and tight tannins. Good concentration but quite challenging on its own. Authentic, well made Chianti. Very good+ (£8.95 Berry Bros) 03/02 

Badia di Morrana Vigna Alba 1998
Badia di Morrona is a historical estate now owned by the Counts Gaslini Alberti, located in the Pisan hills in the north-west of the Chianti appellation. The estate covers 500 hectares with 60 hectares of vineyards planted with Sangiovese, Cannaiolo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. This is a superb personality-filled wine made from a particular clone of Sangiovese and matured in new oak. Deep purple/red with a slightly fading rim. Rich, exotic nose of sweet herbs, cherry fruit and spice, with a tarry edge. Complex and beguiling. Medium bodied spicy/savoury palate with a dry finish. Quite elegant; lovely savoury complexity. Not in a big lush international style. Very good/excellent (£18.95 Berry Bros) 03/02 

Conti Constanti Brunello di Montalcino 1990, Tuscany, Italy
Focused, spicy nose is quite complex and dusty. Rich, spicy palate with nice savoury complexity and some evolution. Good concentration with a spicy finish: a delicious, complex Brunello that’s probably just approaching its peak. Very good/excellent 05/02  

Fonta Candida Frascati Superiore ‘Santa Teresa’ 1999, Italy
This is from a single 12 ha vineyard at an altitude of 300 m, and is a blend of Malvasia, Trebbiano and Greco grape varieties. A full yellow colour, the nose is initially a little muted, with some faint floral notes and a slightly musky edge. The palate is medium bodied, with some herbal notes. As the wine warms up in the glass, a little coaxing reveals a good density of waxy, herby fruit: this is full flavoured for a Frascati, and nicely savoury. Very good+ (£7.50 La Vigneronne) 08/01

Danzante 2000 Delle Venezie, Marchesi de Frescobaldi/Robert Mondavi, Italy
(Tasted blind, note as written) A new multi-region blend (Friuli, Trentino Alto Adige, Veneto) from a joint venture between Mondavi and Frescobaldi. Pale in colour, this has a bright floral nose with delicate high-toned acid notes. The palate is quite light with good acidity, grapefruity/peachy elements and nutty, waxy notes. It's clearly Italian, probably Pinot Grigio, but where is it from? Very good (c. £10) 09/01

Sesti Brunello di Montalcino 1995, Tuscany, Italy
(Tasted blind, note as written) Lovely rich, open nose with mineralic berry fruit and smoky, minty notes together with some herby elements. Firmly tannic with a dry finish and minerally complexity. Stern tannins and acidity, good concentration and plenty of complexity here. It's a traditional style of Brunello that has spent four years in oak, and it's delicious. Very good/excellent (07/01)

Guado al Tasso 1995, Antinori, Bolghere Superiore, Tuscany, Italy
(Tasted blind, note as written) A blend of 60% Cabernet/40% Merlot, that sells for about £40. This shows a modest, but quite refined nose with a touch of smoky spice and some herbiness. Soft palate with some firm tannins in the background, spice and good acidity. There's a herby, slightly farmyardy edge, and this is showing some bottle age. Very good+ (07/01)

Luciano Sandrone Pemol Langhe Rosso 1999, Piedmont, Italy
A blend of 40% Nebbiolo and 60% Barbera. A deep red/purple colour this is a striking modern-style wine. It shows lush ripe fruit with a coffee-tinged, spicy edge. There's good intensity and some complexity, but it’s a lot of money for what Bibendum themselves describe as an ‘undemanding quaffing’ wine. Very good (£14.99 Bibendum) 11/01

Bric Cencurio Arneis 2000, Piedmont, Italy
(Arneis is the grape variety) Restrained nutty, slightly spicy nose leads to a full flavoured palate with nice balance, an attractive texture and lovely herbal complexity. Very good+ (£8.13 Bibendum) 11/01

Soave Classico Suavia 2000, Italy
Shy, nutty, slightly honeyed nose with herby, waxy ripe fruit on the palate. Good acidity. Modern style. Good/very good (£6.56 Bibendum) 11/01

Basciano Chianti Classico 1999, Tuscany, Italy
A bright red purple colour with a slightly muted nose. The rich modern palate displays berry fruit with a nice spicy, savoury edge and good acidity. New wave Chianti and quite attractive. Very good (£6.76 Bibendum) 11/01

San Biagio Barolo 1996, La Morra, Piedmont, Italy
San Biagio is a family owned estate that's been going since 1923, with 13 ha of vineyards. Estate bottling only began in 1990, and the winemaking is in a modern style with the use of some barriques. This Barolo has a medium red/brown colour with slightly brown rim: fairly typical of the Nebbiolo grape. Ripe, perfumed, complex nose of herbs, spices and undergrowth, with a slightly sweet edge. The palate is quite rich, with a spicy character but very firm tannins ad a dry finish. Impressive concentration. There's lots of evolution ahead for this delicious wine, although it's just about drinkable now. Very good/excellent (£16.95) 12/01

San Biagio Barbera d'Alba 1998, Piedmont, Italy
An inky-dark purple black. The nose is initially a little reserved, with spicy, liqouricey berry fruit, a bit of sweet oak, and notes of coffee and olives. The palate is dense and tight, with dry, spicy tannins and some oak influence, as well as attractive bitter cherry/plum fruit and good acidity. It is a hugely concentrated wine in a modern style with good potential for development. Very good/excellent (£11.95 Berry Bros & Rudd) 09/01

San Biagio Dolchetto d'Alba 1999, Piedmont, Italy
A very deep red/purple colour. Smoky, roasted nose with notes of coffee, burnt toast and roast nuts. The concentrated palate shows robust savoury and spicy character, with some new oak apparent, and dusty tannins on the finish. A very modern-styled wine with impressive concentration, but perhaps lacking a bit of character. Very good (£8.45 Berry Bros & Rudd) 10/01

Merlot 1998, Vistorta, Friuli
Bright red purple colour. Lovely savoury nose with a leafy edge to the fruit. Savoury with drying tannins on the palate: this is a delicious, almost Loire-like red wine, with 'cool-climate' fruit. Very good+ (c. £8) 07/01

Mezzomondo Chardonnay Vallagarina 2000, Trentino (NE Italy), IGT
Pleasant, fresh, lemony nose with some tropical fruit, underlying toasty notes (from partial barrel fermentation). Palate shows clean, crisp fruit and finishes with a tiny bit of bitterness. Not a show stopper, but a good commercial Chardonnay for the price. Very good (£3.99 Waitrose) 08/01

Mezzomondo Negroamaro Rosso Salento 2000 Puglia, IGT
The nose shows lovely bright cherry and raspberry fruit with some sweet, smoky, toasty notes. With good concentration, the palate shows smoky, bitter cherry and burnt notes, with some oak influence (oak chips?). Attractive stuff; good commercial winemaking. Very good+ (£3.99 Waitrose) 08/01

Monte del Fra Bianco di Custoza 2000, Italy
Fresh, herby nose is attractively crisp with a touch of yeastiness and a lemony/floral twist. The crisp, herbal palate has good acidity and a zingy finish. A good food wine, in a fresh, full flavoured style. Very good (£5.95 Berry Bros & Rudd) 09/01

San Biagio Barbera d'Alba DOC 1998, Piedmont, Italy
An inky-dark purple black. The nose is initially a little reserved, with spicy, liqouricey berry fruit, a bit of sweet oak, and notes of coffee and olives. The palate is dense and tight, with dry, spicy tannins and some oak influence, as well as attractive bitter cherry/plum fruit and good acidity. It is a hugely concentrated wine in a modern style with good potential for development. Very good/excellent (£11.95 Berry Bros & Rudd) 09/01

Monte del Fra Bardolino 2000 Veneto
Monte del Fra, owned by brothers Eligio and Claudio Bonemo, is one of the most dynamic producers in this part of the Veneto. Here they've fashioned a fruity Bardolino that's dangerously easy to drink. It's a vibrant pale cherry colour, with a bright nose of sweet cherry fruit and a Beaujolais-like bubblegum edge. The palate is soft and gluggable with no rough edges: this is a simple, light, juicy wine. Good/very good (£5.95 Berry Bros & Rudd) 10/01

Tre Uve Ultima Vino de Tavola, Italy
An interesting concept here: a branded wine with no particular geographical origin (other than Italy) or vintage designation, but made in a premium style with maturation in new French oak barriques. This is a deep coloured wine with an attractive nose of ripe berry fruit, spicy oak, and coffee and chocolatey complexity. The modern, fruit-driven palate displays cherry and spice flavours, good acidity, and a slightly alcoholic finish (this one weighs in at 14%). I think the wine I tasted was actually the 1999 version, but both this and some remnants of the 1998 can currently be found on retailers shelves. Very good (£5.99 Tesco) 09/01

Anselmi San Vicenzo 2000, IGT Veneto
Soave with a difference (deliberately declassified to IGT status), I recommended Anselmi's 1999 San Vicenzo here a while back; I'm pleased to say that the 2000 is even better. A blend of Garganega, Chardonnay and Trebbiano di Soave, it has a lovely, rich floral nose with a nutty edge. The palate is rich, full textured, fruity and nutty. Delicious stuff. Very good/excellent (c. £7) 07/01

Falasco Valpolicella 2000, Valpantena, Veneto
This organic Valpolicella is a pale cherry colour, and shows sweet, ripe cherry fruit on the nose with a touch of herbiness. The medium bodied palate is soft and rounded: nice stuff for glugging but not particularly serious. Good/very good (c. £6) 07/01

Falasco Amarone della Valpolicello 1997, Valpantena, Veneto
Wonderfully rich spicy nose with a vanilla and dark chocolate edge. The rich, soft, dense palate is quite oaky, but there's plenty of interest here. Perhaps a touch rustic? Very good (c. £15) 07/01

Amarone Classico 1995, La Regose, Veneto
A faded purple/red colour with a bricking edge. Slightly volatile nose shows cherry fruit and spice, with a dusty, herby edge. There's good density on the palate, along with cedarwood and spice notes. Quite a big wine. Very good (c. £15) 07/01

Pinot Bianco 2000, Vinnaoili Jermann, Friuli
Lovely rich spicy nose with a citrussy edge. It's still a little youthful and tanky, but there's great density on the palate. Fresh and savoury. Very good/excellent (c. £12) 07/01

Monte del Frá Bardolino 2000, Veneto, Italy
Monte del Frá, owned by brothers Eligio and Claudio Bonemo, is one of the most dynamic producers in this part of the Veneto. Here they've fashioned a fruity Bardolino that's dangerously easy to drink. It's a vibrant pale cherry colour, with a bright nose of sweet cherry fruit and a Beaujolais-like bubblegum edge. The palate is soft and gluggable with no rough edges: this is a simple, light, juicy wine. Good/very good (£5.95 Berry Bros & Rudd) 10/01

Monte del Frá Bianco di Custoza 2000, Italy
Fresh, herby nose is attractively crisp with a touch of yeastiness and a lemony/floral twist. The crisp, herbal palate has good acidity and a zingy finish. A good food wine, in a fresh, full flavoured style. Very good (£5.95 Berry Bros & Rudd) 09/01

Tedeschi Fabriseria 1999, Rosso della Veronese, Veneto, Italy
A unusual but interesting red wine, made from a blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella and a dash of Cabernet Sauvignon. A deep purple/black colour this concentrated, almost soupy wine has a herby, spicy nose. The palate rich and lush, with ripe fruit and good acidity. There's plenty of tarry, sweet oak influence together with a lovely herbal complexity. Rich, modern and delicious. Very good/excellent (£11.49 Majestic) 10/01

Aldo Conterno Barbera d'Alba 1999, Piedmont, Italy
Quite expressive nose with a dry, spicy edge. Intensely savoury, dense palate with good acidity and a tannic, spicy finish. Concentrated, traditional stuff; needs time? Very good+ (£13.99 Majestic) 10/01

Zenato 'Ripassa' Valpolicella Superiore 1998, Veneto, Italy
Made by the ripasso technique, where Valpolicella wine is added to the gunk left over from making Amarone (wine made from part-dried grapes), starting a secondary fermentation that adds 'oomph' to the wine. This is a superb, striking, concentrated wine, although some might find it a little bit sweet and oaky. Concentrated purple/red colour, with a lovely characterful nose of exotic herby/spicy cherry fruit with a slightly dusty edge. The palate is dense and concentrated, with coffee and chocolate flavours and a noticeable sweetness to the fruit. It's a ripe, lush style, with noticeable influence from French oak, and lacking the slightly bitter (although not unpleasant) finish often associated with Valpolicella. Very good/excellent (Bottoms Up £7.99) 6/01

Vigneto della Terre Rossa di Enrico Vallania Malvasia 1999, Emilia IGT
Really unusual stuff from central Italy (Emilia is also the home of Lambrusco). Perfumed, fruity nose is sweet and grapey, with a subtle herbal element. The palate is rich and spicy, with more perfume-laced fruit and some residual sugar, although you wouldn't classify this as a fully sweet wine. Overall, I'd say this would work as a chilled-down aperitif, but the price-tag is a bit high for this. (£11 The Good Wine Shop) 05/01

Inycon Chardonnay 2000, Bianco di Sicilia, Italy
Richly textured and full flavoured, showing buttery fruit well balanced by firm acidity. The oak influence is noticeable, and there's a bit of heat from the high alcohol on the finish. I'm not as enthusiastic about this as many of the other critics, although I'd say this vintage is better than the 1999. Good/very good (Sainsbury £4.99) 05/01

A Mano Primitivo 2000, Puglia, Italy
I was really impressed by the pungent, boldly flavoured 1999 vintage of this wine; while the 2000 example isn't bad, it suffers in comparison. It's quite light and a bit rustic, with some spiciness underlying the bright, modern fruit. Lacking a bit of excitement and individuality. Good/very good (Sainsbury £5.99) 05/01

Fontodi Chianti Classico Reserva 1997 Vigna del Sorbo
Sangiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon blend from a single vineyard. An opaque red/purple colour. Concentrated, rich wine with spicy tannins, a bit of meatiness and some typical Sangiovese character -- despite the presence of the Cabernet in the blend, the noticeable oak and the deep, extracted colour this isn’t just yet another ‘international styled’ wine. After a while in the glass this becomes quite bretty (barnyard, animal-like aromas come to the fore). Probably too bretty. Very good+

Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva ‘del Poggio’ 1982
Surprisingly dark for a 1982, this is a beautiful Chianti drinking near what I’d guess is its peak. Lovely smoky, dusty nose. The palate shows dry tannins and there are notes of leather, smoke and tar. Good concentration: rich and complex, with good typicity. Excellent

1990 Sangioveto, Badia a Coltibuono
This is a varietal Sangiovese aged in small oak barrels. It is deep-coloured, with a lovely spicy nose. The concentrated palate shows some complexity, but it’s pretty dense and tough, with lots of dusty-dry tannins. Very Italian and very Tuscan. Very good+

Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1990, Argiano
Fragrant, rich nose of leather, tar, spice and dark fruits. Lush, ripe palate with firm tannins and ripe herbal and tea-like flavours. Super stuff. Very good/excellent

Dal Forno Romano ‘Nettare’ 1994, Vino da Tavola, Verona
Rare stuff from Veneto superstar Dal Forno, this sweetie is only made in the best years and the Garganega and Turbiana grapes are air-dried on mats before fermentation. It’s a light brown colour and shows notes of herbs, tea and citrus fruits, together with grapey/spicy flavours. Lovely concentration. Very good/excellent

Anselmi San Vicenzo 1999 IGT Veneto
Nice minimalist packaging conceals a lovely full flavoured Italian white wine from overachieving producer Anselmi. There's an attractive smokiness to the nose, and the fresh, creamy, herby palate shows savoury, grapey fruit. Nicely balanced and with a beguiling complexity that makes me want to try his more serious single vineyard bottling. Very good/excellent (£8.50 Fortnum and Mason) 03/01

Tedeschi Capitel del Nicalò 1997, Valpolicella Classico Superiore
The grapes for this wine were dried on racks for a while to concentrate the flavours before pressing, and the result is a characterful, slightly bitter red wine that's best with food. Lovely spicy/herby nose with a smoky edge leads to a palate showing savoury, bitter fruit. The finishes is dominated by dusty tannins and high acidity. Very good+ (£5.99 Majestic) 04/01

Tedeschi Vigneto Monte Tenda 1999, Soave Classico
From a 6 ha vineyard. Perfumed, floral nose -- almost like a Viognier -- with peach, grape and lychee notes. The fresh, savoury, grapey palate shows waxy, nutty elements. Very Good+ (£4.99) 04/01

Nivole Michele Chiarlo Moscato d'Asti 1999
Nicely packaged in a rather attractive tall, thin bottle, I can't help but feel that the wine inside it, while great fun, is a little too frivolous to justify such fuss. The lovely grapey fresh nose has a lemony twist. On the palate it is fizzy, light and sweet, with some hints of apples and apricots. Very quaffable and great fun, but a bit pricey for such a light, fizzy wine -- at just 5.5% alcohol, you can knock this back like lemonade. Very good (Oddbins £3.99 for 37.5 cl) 02/01

Saint Jurosa 1998, Lis Neris - Alvaro Pecorari, Friuli Isonzo, Italy
I've enjoyed other less expensive bottlings of Chardonnay from Pecorari, and this is his highly impressive top effort with this grape. A yellow/golden colour, it has an almost breathtaking nose of toasty, nutty new oak and ripe, savoury fruit. The palate is classy, with good concentration, lean-but-full fruit and plenty of oak. However, although you'd certainly classify this wine as oak-driven, the oaking is very sophisticated and is brilliantly integrated. Very good/excellent (Berry Bros £13.95) 2/01

Marchesi de Frescobaldi Nippozano Reserva 1997 Chianti Rufina
A serious Chianti with some structure, this has a savoury nose of herbs and olives. On the palate there are savoury, spicy, herby notes, good fruit (damsons and cherries) with great balance and some complexity. It has a spicy edge and dry tannins that are firm enough to suggest that this wine will age nicely. Very good+ (£8.99, Oddbins) 12/00

Via Nova Primitivo del Salento IGT 1999
Great value from this chunky southern Italian red. The rich nose matches lovely, deep chocolatey berry fruit with some herbal, tea leaf-like notes. The palate is firm, dense and slightly rustic. This cheapie gets the balance right between modern fruit flavours and a pleasant, rustic authenticity, and it is very attractive stuff. Very good+ (Sainsbury £3.99) 2/01

Trulli Dry Muscat, Puglia IGT 2000
A modern style 'branded' southern Italian white wine made by Kym Mylne and Augusto Cantele. Nice spicy/grapey nose leads to a clean crisp, grapey palate. Showing good varietal character this is pure and fruity, but perhaps just a little too dry on the palate? Great value and a nice summer wine. Very good (£3.99 Tesco) 2/01

Tedeschi 'Capitel San Rocco' 1997, Vino da Tavola Veronese, Italy
Made by the ripasso method, in which young Valpolicella is fermented on the lees of Amarone (a wine made from grapes that have been concentrated by drying). This has a lovely, complex nose of spice and herbs, with a bitter, dry edge to it. On the palate it is a dense, spicy mouthful, bone dry and with a slightly bitter, high-acid character. Super stuff, calling out for food to accompany it -- very Italian in style. Very good+ (£5.99 Majestic) 1/01

Santa Sabina, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 1997
Very attractive wine with real character. Dense, concentrated red/black colour. Bright smoky/herby nose with tar and spice notes. On the palate there is smoky, complex cherry and red berry fruit, backed up by firm tannins, spicy oak and high acidity. Quite serious stuff for the price. Very good+ (£7.99 Majestic) 10/00

Barbera d'Asti 1999, Tabarin
An unusual Italian red wine, with come character but perhaps too much rusticity for my tastes. Deep purple/black colour. Sweet caramel on the nose with a rather medicinal palate that shows firm tannins and chunky, savoury, funky cherry fruit. Good/very good (£8.99 Oddbins) 10/00

Copertino Riserva 1996, Sainsbury
A stinky, herby, cheesy red wine. Medium bodied and with high acidity, I enjoyed a previous bottle of this wine, but this time the stinkiness and rusticity crosses the line to the point where it's a fault. Poor. (£4.29 Sainsbury) 11/00

Briante Chianti Classico 1998, Italy
Light, medium bodied red wine with attractive, spicy cherry fruit and great balance. Warm and rounded, this has a spicy/earthy character on the palate, and high-ish acidity. Very good (£5.99 Sainsbury) 10/00

Incyon Chardonnay 1999 IGT Bianco di Sicilia
A big, ripe Chardonnay in a new world style. Golden colour with a big nose of tropical fruits. Full and ripe on the palate, with a slightly alcoholic finish. Attractive, but a little rough. Good+ (£4.99 Sainsbury) 10/00

Santa Christina 1999, Antinori, Italy
90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot, from the Chianti Classico region. Deep red/purple in colour, with a lively nose of red fruits. Savoury, spicy fruits on the palate: attractive in an understated sort of way. Good/very good (£5.99 Majestic) 10/00

Valpolicella Classico dei Nicalo 1997, Tedeschi, Italy
A blend of Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara Rossignola and Dindarella that has spent 18- 24 months in old Yugoslavian oak barrels. Red with a brick tinge. Full, pungent nose. Savoury, dry and spicy on the palate from the extended oak ageing, this is a nice, old-style food wine. Good/very good. (£5.99 Majestic) 10/00

Barbera d'Asti Alfredo Prunotto 1999, Italy
Purple/red colour, with a lovely bright nose. It's bold and fruity, with high acid and good concentration, showing nice varietal character. Very good (£5.99 Majestic) 10/00

Carlino Bonardo 1998, Oltrepo Pavese, Castello di Luzzano, Italy
Red/black colour. A mid-weight wine with bright fruit and high acid. Good. A bit overpriced? (£7.99 Majestic) 10/00

Nebbiolo d'Alba Ochetti Vineyard 1998, Prunotto, Italy
This is a rather backward Nebbiolo. Light cherry/red colour, with a restrained, leathery nose. Austere and spicy with medium concentration. Very dry. OK/good. (£8.99 Majestic) 10/00

Paretaio Falchini 1997, Italy
From the Paretaio vineyard in San Gimignano, a blend of 90% Sangiovese 10% other grapes. Deep red/purple colour, with good concentration. This is quite a full-on wine, with bright fruit and some oak complexity. Very good. (£9.99) 10/00

Rosso della Fabriseria Tedeschi 1998, Italy
A delicious, full flavoured red consisting of 35% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, from a 3 ha vineyard in the Valpolicella classico area. Concentrated red/black colour. Lovely spicy, exotic nose is followed with a palate of rich fruit and herby, medicinal complexity. Very good/excellent. (£11.99 Majestic) 10/00

Amarone della Valpolicella 1996, Tedeschi, Italy
A blend of Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara Dindarella and Negrara. Concentrated red/purple colour. Slightly muted nose leads to an interesting palate of soft, rich, full flavours with a nice exotic edge. Good acidity holds things together well. Very good. (£12.99 Majestic) 10/00

Guado al Tasso 1997, Bolgheri Antinori, Italy
60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Syrah. Concentrated red/black colour. Lovely, forward exotic nose, herby and rich. Tannic, oaky, menthol-laced palate, but still good balance in an international style. Very good/excellent, but expensive. (£29.99 Majestic) 10/00

Soave Classico Monte Tenda 1999, Tedeschi
A blend of Garganega, Trebbiano and Durella from a single vineyard. Soft and quite full flavoured, gently acidic white wine. OK. (£4.99) 10/00

Vernaccia di San Gimigano 1998, Vinea Doni Falchini
90% Vernaccia/10% Chardonnay, fermented in barrels. Soft, nutty white wine with clean fruit and low acidity. This doesn't excite me. OK. (£8.99) 10/00

Chardonnay Castello della Sala 1999, Antinori, IGT Umbria, Italy
Fermented in French oak, this is a striking Chardonnay with a pronounced toasty oak nose. On the palate, the barrel-ferment character combines nicely with savoury fruit and high acidity. Quite oaky, but very good none the less. (£6.99) 10/00

Chianti Classico 1997 Fattoria di Capraia, Rocci di Castagnoli
A very nice mid-priced Chianti, showing an attractive balance between the fruit and non-fruit components. Red/black in colour with good concentration. Nose initially quite subdued, but opens out after a while to reveal spicy plums and cherries. Balanced and dry on the palate with dusty, herby, spicy fruit and dry tannins match well with the firm acidity. There should be a nice evolution ahead for this wine. Very good. (£7.49 Waitrose) 9/00

Connubio Nero d'Avola 1998, IGT Sicilia
A satisfying, inexpensive Italian red with some real character. Attractive nose with cherries, plums, herbs and a touch of farmyardy character. On the palate ripe, chocolatey fruit combines nicely with some spice and a touch of oak. Authentic but modern. Very good. (4.99 Sainsburys) 9/00

Villa Pigna, Rosso Piceno Superiore 1997, DOC, Italy
From the Marches region comes this rather plonkish medium-bodied Italian red, showing cherryish, spicy fruit with herby, leathery elements. OK/good. (£3.99 Sainsbury) 9/00

Rocche Costamagna Annunziata 1997 Barbera d'Alba, Italy
Medium bodied wine with a lovely perfumed nose. It displays plummy, cherry fruit combined with leathery, herby complexity and spicy notes. Moderately firm tannins. It's only medium bodied, but it has lovely balance. Very good (£7.99 Majestic) 8/00

San Crispino Salento Rosso Primitivo IGT 1999, Italy
I've been impressed by the 1999 Primitivos from Southern Italy: this one is not quite as striking as the 1999 A. Mano Primitivo, but it is in the same league. Red/black colour. Initially reticent on the nose, it opens out to give a rich, tarry, cheesy, spicy aroma with a burnt rubber edge. The firm but drying tannins suggest this will be good for a few years yet. Great concentration and depth of flavour. Very good. (£4.99 Sainsbury) 9/00

Borgo Faveri Pinot Grigio del Piave DOC 1999
(Organic) Clean, light and simple, this is a neutral, virtually flavour-free wine. Pleasant, smoky and spicy, but too neutral for me. Good by the jug in a restaurant. (£3.29 Sainsbury) 9/00

Punset Nebbiolo Delle Langhe 1994, Vino da Tavola, Italy
A really delicious traditional-styled Nebbiolo. A subtle, mature wine with attractive perfumed nose: it is a leathery, spicy wine with notes of tea and dried herbs. High acidity and good balance. The opposite of a new world fruit bomb; a little bit medicinal, but I love it. Very good + (£4.99 Majestic) 9/00

Vernaccia di San Gimigano La Lastra 1996, Italy
From Tuscany, this is an unusual, full flavoured, mature white wine. It has a nutty/waxy nose and soft fruit on the palate with very low acidity. It's a bit odd and I'm not sure about it. (Majestic £4.99) 8/00

Sainsbury's Copertino Riserva 1996 DOC, Cantina Social Coopertiva Copertino, Italy
A blend of Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera, made by Severino Garofano. This may just be a modest co-op wine, but it's lovely, personality-filled southern red. Cherry red with brick edges, it is medium bodied with herby, meaty, medicinal and earthy notes. Spicy and complex, this is rustic but full of interest. Really good for the price. (£4.29 Sainsbury) 9/00

Eno Frulia Pinot Grigio 1999, Pyiatti,Collio DOC, Italy
Sweetly perfumed nose with floral notes dominating. On the palate it is light and dry with bracing acidity. Nice, crisp dry wine, but lacks real character. Were the yields too high? (£5.49, down from £6.99, Sainsbury) 9/00

Vinho Nobile du Montepulciano 1996, Cecchi, Italy
Although this is from a big producer, it is a lovely medium-weight wine with good balance and plenty of complexity and character; I really enjoyed it. Deep red/black colour with a herby, spicy nose. Spicy palate with high acidity, dry tannins and cherries, plums and tobacco notes. Very good (Sainsbury, £6.99 down from £8.99) 9/00

A Mano Primitivo 1999, Puglia, Italy
This has just been announced as the red wine of the year at the International Wine Challenge, so I thought I'd better check it out. Primitivo has recently been confirmed to be the same grape as the USA's Zinfandel, but this is the first Primitivo that has reminded me at all of its American counterpart. A dense red/black colour, this is a huge wine, with chocolatey fruit, hints of treacle, tar and rubber, and with a medicinal, pungent nose. Rich and ripe, with good acidity and chunky tannins. I drink a lot of wine and it's rare these days that when I pull the cork I'm surprised by what I find. But this is one of those wines. Very good; worth its award. (Sainsbury £5.99) 9/00

Trulli Chardonnay 1998, Salento, Italy
Golden colour. Nutty, figgy nose gives way to a simple but clean palate with good balance and acidity. Good and great value, but surprisingly mature, so drink up. (£4.49, Thresher) 9/00

Lis Neris, Isonzo del Friuli Chardonnay 1998, Alvaro Pecorari
A real treat, this is an Italian Chardonnay that manages to combine the best of the old and new worlds. Pale yellow with a full nose. On the palate it has complex, nutty fruit with mineralic notes and light oak influence. With good concentration of flavour, this is a rich Chardonnay with real character. (£8.95, Berry Bros) 5/00

Trulli Dry Muscat 1999, Puglia IGT, Italy
Lovely fresh grapey nose. On the palate this is fresh and dry, with high acidity and a touch of bitterness. Clean, fresh and grapey this makes a good value food wine. (£3.99 Tesco) 6/00

Il Padrino 1999 Nero d'Avola, Rosso Sicilia IGT
Easy-drinking cherry and herb-laced wine. Full flavoured, but nothing to dwell on for too long. Good value. (£3.99 Tesco) 6/00

Trulli Primitivo 1998, IGT Salento, Italy
Winemakers Augusto Càntele and Kym Milne have produced a lovely spicy, meaty wine. Warm flavours combine with a lovely dry spiciness (from the oaking?), with hints of cherry fruit, olives and coffee. Nicely balanced and quite complex, super value. Very good. (£4.99 Oddbins; £4.49 Tesco) 6/00

Bidoli Pinot Grigio 1999, Fruili Grave DOC, Italy
From Northeast Italy comes this light, spritzy dry white with a fresh, fruity nose and good acidity. Good food wine, perhaps a bit simple, but well made nonetheless. (£4.99 Oddbins) 6/00

Villa Pigna Cabernesco 1997 Vino da Tavola Rosse Delle Marche
Rep/purple colour. Clean, herbaceous vegetal fruit (Cabernet Franc?) with blackcurrants and raspberries. Rich and intense, with good concentration and firm, chalky tannins, this is quite like a Chinon in character. Good. (£5.99 Tesco) 9/99

Valpollicello Superiore Dal Forno Romano 1993
What a stunning wine! Huge, with sweet fruit, firm tannins and a whole cornucopia of complex nuances: coffee, herbs, chocolate, liquorice, burnt rubber.... It is drinking beautifully. Highly concentrated, complex and filled with personality. It has spent lots of time in new oak, but you can't pick this at all. 9/99

Inama Soave Classico 1995
Richly flavoured for a Soave, with plenty of interest and a pleasant bitterness to the finish. Not showing too much age. It reminds me of something, but I can't place it. Anyway, I liked it. 9/99

Tre Uve Ultima, Vino da Tavola, Italy
This is an interesting branded Italian red wine with plenty of character. Vibrant purple/red colour, with seductive nose and palate of cherry fruit. Bracing acidity, good concentration and some spicy complexity. The high acidity makes this personality-filled wine able to stand up to some foods that other red wines would have trouble with. Very good, but quite unusual. (£5.99 Fuller's) 2/00