Last Wednesday I made a new discovery (new for me, at least). It’s ViniItaliani, a wine shop/wine bar on the Old Brompton Road in South Kensington. It also acts as a wholesaler for some wines that it imports directly, and has an associated consumer-directed online wineshop at www.italianwines.com.
London is becoming a great place to shop for wine, and with a complicated product offering it makes sense to let people try before you buy. Hence the rise in shops offering customers the chance to buy small pours, such as pioneer The Sampler and Vagabond, who’ve made wine buying a lovely social experience.
ViniItaliani is a beautifully fitted out retail space, with plenty of informal seating so you can spend some time trying a range of different wines from their enomatic machines (they have eight wines on tasting, with a machine upstairs and one downstairs), or you can order wines by the glass. You can drink any wine from the shelves for a modest corkage fee of £7.50. There’s food, too, in the way of Italian small plates.
The wine range is excellent, with a range of self-imports, as well as wines sourced from leading agencies. The classics are covered well (you can splurge on supertuscans, if that’s your thing, or lust after top Barolo), but there’s also some interesting natural stuff, and a brilliant coverage of lesser-known regions.
With £20 on a sampling card, I tried everything in the enomatic machine:
Biocantina Giannattasio Bombino Bianco 2012 Puglia, Italy
Crisp, pure and very fresh with some mineral notes, and a subtle nuttiness. Nice precision here: taut, subtle pear fruit and a nice soft mouthfeel. 89/100 (£13 italianwines.com)
Vigne Surrau Branu Vermentino di Gallura 2012 Sardinia, Italy
Floral, fruity nose is quite fine with nice grapefruit notes. Lovely ripe, textured pear and apple fruit with some nectarine. Lovely fruitiness here. Rounded and attractive. 90/100 (£16 italianwines.com)
Petrucco Pinot Grigio 2012 Friuli Colli Orientali, Italy
Lively and textured with pear, citrus and some spice, as well as a hint of grapey richness. Nice texture and depth. 88/100 (£13 Italianwines.com)
Tenuta Regaliali Chardonnay Tasca d’Almerita 2011 Sicily, Italy
Ripe, slightly honeyed nose with notes of toast and bread. Ripe, textured, appley, nutty palate is rich and concentrated with some spiciness on the finish. Lovely. 92/100 (£37 Italianwines.com)
San Pietro Schiava 2012 Alto Adige, Italy
A lighter style red that’s elegant and fresh with sweet cherry and herb fruit. Soft textured with a bit of mineral and spice. Sweetly fruited, stylish and elegant. 92/100 (£12.50 Italianwines.com)
Cherchi Cagnulari Isola dei Nuraghi Rosso 2011 Sardinia, Italy
Beautifully sweet, floral cherry fruit nose. Highly perfumed. Lovely supple, elegant, sweetly fruited red cherry and herb palate. Delicious and more-ish, with some complexity. 93/100 (Italianwines.com)
Benito Ferrara Taurasi Vigna Quattro Confini 2008 Campania, Italy
Aglianico is the grape. Spicy, subtly balsamic nose. The palate shows textured black cherry and blackberry fruit with fine spiciness and a nice grippy finish. Good fruit allied with good structure. 91/100 (£34 Italianwines.com)
Luigi Einaudi Barolo Cannubi 2006 Piedmont, Italy
Complex aromas of leather, spice, herbs, stewed plums and black cherries. The palate is supple and ripe with sweet cherry fruit, some firm tannins and good acidity. Has the elegance and fruit sweetness to carry the structure. A really lovely modern-styled Barolo. 93/100 (£49 Italianwines.com)