Letters from Monferrato

by Peter Pharos
This was not the piece I was planning to write. This was meant to be my write-up of my visit to Monferrato, the Piedmont region usually left out of the...
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2017 Kellerei Kurtatsch Sonntaler Grauvernatsch, Südtirol

( £20.60, 12%, Alpine Wines )

What’s Grauvernatsch supposed to taste like? To be honest, I’m not really sure as it’s a grape I’ve never knowingly encountered before. But if you like elegant, light-bodied Alpine reds – from the Italian Südtirol in this case – you’ll love the understated elegance of this light, scented refreshing red, with its fragrant wild strawberry and redcurrant fruit, silky tannins and aromatic herbs. Juicy and unwooded, it’s a wine that tastes even better chilled.

BuyDrinking window: 2019-23Similar Wines: £20-£30, 92-94, Italy, Red, Grauvernatsch
92

2017 Le Sabbie dell'Etna Rosso, Etna, Sicily

( £12.99, 14%, Waitrose )

The wines of Etna are some of Sicily’s – and Italy’s – most distinctive reds. Produced from two grapes – Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio – that are almost Pinot Noir like in colour and texture, this lightly wooded example is a fantastic introduction to a volcanic classic. Floral, ethereal and light with juicy redcurrant and raspberry fruit and some underlying stony grip. On offer at £10.99 from November 13 to December 3.

BuyDrinking window: 2019-24Similar Wines: £10-15, 90-94, Italy, Red, Nerello Capuccio, Nerello Mascalese

White wine rising

by Christy Canterbury MW
Though the “ABC”, or “Anything But Chardonnay” campaign continues to rail against it, Chardonnay remains the favourite white grape of USA wine drinkers. It is also the planet’s most planted,...
90

2016 Morrisons The Best Barbera d'Asti, Piedmont

( £6.50 down to £5.75, 14.5%, Morrisons )

The Araldica co-op makes some of the best inexpensive reds and whites in northern Italy, typified by the quality of this juicy, spicy, sappy Barbera from Piedmont. Plum, black cherry and raspberry fruit are framed by savoury tannins and the tangy acidity that’s typical of the variety. Smooth and full-bodied, it’s a great all-purpose red to ease you gently into autumn.

BuyDrinking window: 2019-22Similar Wines: £5-8, 90-94, Italy, Red, Barbera
90

2019 Morrisons The Best Verdicchio, Marche

( £6, down from £6.50, 12%, Morrisons )

This is an outstanding bargain at £6.50. At the cheaper offer price, it’s close to a steal. Sourced from Monte Schiavo, it’s a wine that looks as good as it tastes. Perfect for seafood or white fish, it’s crisp, tangy and dry, with citrus and pine needle notes and the faintest hint of the salty seashore.

BuyDrinking window: 2019-20Similar Wines: £5-£10, 90-94, Italy, White, Verdicchio
91

2015 Masseria Pietrosa Verdeca, Cantine San Marzano, Puglia

( £6 down from £8, 13%, Morrisons )

Even at its normal price, this fine-looking Italian white from the country’s boot heel is a total bargain, but at £6 it shoudl ahve people queueing out of the door. Blending the local Verdeca grape (not the same thing as Verdejo) with 2.5% each of Sauvignon Blanc and Malvasia, it’s a tangy, crunchy thirstquencher with flavours of pear and orange zest and lovely texture. 

BuyDrinking window: 2017-19Similar Wines: £5-£10, 91-95, Italy, White, Verdeca

How the other half drinks

by Matt Walls
Is there a quicker way to get to know someone than by flicking through their music collection or browsing their bookshelves? Both feel like a little glimpse into their soul....
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2015 Poggio Civetta, Tuscany

( £6.99, 12.5%, Majestic )

If you’re looking for an easy drinking pink to quaff over the next few weeks, this pale rosé made from “typical Tuscan varieties”  is a snip at under £7 (as long as you buy five other bottles at Majestic). There’s a spicy, wild herb-like note to the raspberry fruit that’s backed up by a nip of tannin. 

BuyDrinking window: NowSimilar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Italy, Rose, Merlot, Sangiovese