New Wine In Old Bottles

by Andy Neather
I should have expected it in a temple of Tuscan kitsch: Chianti in fiasco, the bulbous bottles wrapped in straw that were a symbol of Italian eateries in 1970s Britain....

None More Black

by Peter Pharos
People who talk about wine rarely mention their conflicts of interest, so let me put mine front and centre: my first dinner date with my now wife included a bottle...
92

2020 Tenuta del Priore Campotinto Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, Abruzzo

( £9.50, 13.5%, Tanners )

Now that we can start having (legal) parties again, this is just the sort of thing I’d like to serve to my friends and family. Sourced from a family-owned winery near Pescara, it’s a fruity, perfumed, unoaked bundle of joy, with lots of lift and texture, layers of plum and red cherry, lively acidity and just enough tannin to give it some food-friendly grip and structure.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-25Similar Wines: £9.50, 90-94, Italy, Red, Montepulciano
93

2017 Ascheri Barolo DOCG, Piedmont

( £23, 14.5%, Tesco )

Affordable Barolo, like affordable red Burgundy, tends to cost over £20, unless it’s something that should have been distilled long ago. This deliciously drinkable 2017, which shows none of the heat of the vintage, comes from the Ascheri family’s vineyards in the villages of La Morra, Serralunga d’Alba and Verduno. Scented and enticing, with rose petal and dried herbs aromas, savoury, granular tannins and layers of raspberry, plum and sweet spices. Traditional Barolo with a modern twist.

BuyDrinking window: 2022-29Similar Wines: £20-25, 90-94, Italy, Red, Nebbiolo
90

2016 Specially Selected Maremma Toscana Riserva, Maremma, Tuscany

( £7.99, 14%, Aldi )

How does Aldi do it? Very few, if any retailers are as good at sourcing bargain wines from around the world. This is an ambitious Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese with 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Shiraz and Alicante Bouschet from coastal Maremma. Rich, serious and dense, with classically savoury tannins, plum, raspberry and tobacco leaf flavours and a dusting of cinnamon sweetness.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-25Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Italy, Red, Alicante Bouschet, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sangiovese, Shiraz
92

2020 Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina del Sannio Serro Cielo, Campania

( £18.99-£21.90, 13%, Connaught Wines, Valvona & Crolla )

Falanghina is one of southern Italy’s oldest grape varieties – its name derives from the Latin word falangae (phalanx) as vineyards were said to resemble the military formation used by the Romans – and deserves to be better known outside its country of origin. This unwooded example comes from one of the best producers in the region and is a lovely combination of musk, white flower and wild herb aromas, racy, palate-cleansing acidity and some lees-aged derived richness.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-24Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-95, Italy, White, Falanghina
93

2019 Giulia Negri Langhe Nebbiolo Pian delle Mole, Piedmont

( £18.50, 13%, Corney & Barrow )

The youthful Giulia Negri makes this wonderful declassified Barolo from younger vines in the Serradenari vineyard in La Morra, one of the highest sites in the denominazione. Organically farmed and refreshing, it’s a graceful, elegant Nebbiolo showing the freshness of its high-altitude source, beguiling rose petal and old strawberry aromas, a focused, nuanced palate and just the right amount of tannic backbone and acidity. Ludicrously good at the price.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-27Similar Wines: £15-20, 90-94, Italy, Red, Nebbiolo
91

2019 Allegrini Belpasso Rosso, Vapolicella, Veneto

( £10.99-£12.95, 13.5%, Tesco )

The Allegrinis make some of the best Valpolicellas in the Veneto, so it’s no surprise that this blend of the local grapes Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella with 10% each of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is so impressive. Made with 15% of dried grapes – a technique used to increase concentration and flavour – this is plummy and refreshing with notes of green herbs and black cherry, impressive underlying structure and a classic combination of acidity and fine-grained tannins.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-26Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Italy, Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Corvina, Corvinone, Merlot, Rondinella
93

2020 Nunzio Ghiraldi, Lugana

( £14.99, or £12.99 as part of a case of six, 13.5%, Majestic )

Something of a favourite with Majestic managers, apparently, and I can see why, this is a spectacularly exciting white from the Lugana region close to the southern shore of Lake Garda. Made from the Turbiana grape (the local name for Verdicchio), it’s a pithy, stony delight that’s mid-way between a Spanish Albariño and a Chablis in style. Tangy and well balanced, with notes of citrus peel and gunflint and a hint of stone fruit sweetness. Long, complex and refreshing.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-25Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Italy, White, Verdicchio
90

2020 Stemmari Grillo, Sicily

( £6.74, 13%, Waitrose )

I thought this seafood friendly Sicilian white was really good value at £8.99, but it’s even better on offer at £6.74. Picked at night to retain acidity and sourced from vineyards at 400 metres in the foothills of Mount Aurelian, it’s suitably tangy and refreshing with no wood to interrupt the precision or vibrancy of the fruit flavours. Salty and briney, with a stony undertone, wild herb and citrus intensity and a refreshing, tapering finish.

BuyDrinking window: 2021-24Similar Wines: £5-8, 90-94, Italy, White, Grillo

The Wisdom Of Age

by Tim Atkin
Call it serendipity, call it fate, but there are times when events and conversations seem to align. You go for months without thinking about something and then it’s everywhere, filling...