If your impression of Sicily is of a sweltering island making chunky reds, cheap, New World-style whites and Marsala, you haven’t discovered the Nerello Mascalese grape from Mount Etna yet. Andrea Franchetti’s Burgundian-style red, sourced from vines as old as 120 years, is remarkable: perfumed and elegant, with notes of red cherry and wild strawberry, savoury tannins, refreshing acidity and impressive length and complexity.
These 2009 Beaujolais crus really are delicious, so if you are looking for a gluggable summer red to chill out with, this Régnié is the perfect candidate. It’s wonderfully bright and aromatic, with notes of raspberry and red cherry, good texture, lightweight tannins and old vine concentration, with sappy acidity and a refreshing finish. It should keep for a year or two, too.
You might want to wait until this excellent, entry point Grüner goes on special offer at the end of the month, but it’s a really good wine with which to celebrate the arrival of summer. It’s taut, minerally and complex, with pure fruit flavours, no oak, and lovely aromas of white flowers, white pepepr and wet stones. The kind of thing that makes you want to sing in the (Viennese) woods.
Moscato is one of my favourite summer aperitifs, capable of greatness as well as perfume and zing in the hands of a top producer like Gianmario Cerutti. This one comes from a sunny (“suri” in Italian) vineyard located at 350 metres, combining freshness with fruit concentration. This has 125 grams of residual sugar, but you don’t notice it thanks to the citrus fruit acidity. Grapey, frothy, filligree bubbles with a palate-cleansing finish.
Make sure you buy the 2009 vintage of this brilliant Douro red, rather than the 2008, because it’s a step up in terms of perfume and elegance. This is a harmonious blend of Touriga Nacional. Tinta Francesa and Tinta Roriz (aka Tempranillo), showing exotic blackberry and bluberry fruit, a touch of sweet oak, plush tannins and real vibrancy. Significantly, it’s got none of that Douro bake character, just masses of gluggable fruit.
If the price of Barolo and Barbaresco leaves you spluttering into your pasta, some of the regional wines made from the Nebbiolo grape can be good value alternatives, enabling you to enjoy this most brilliant (and temperamental) of Italian varieties without raiding your savings account. This is very elegant and comparatively forward, showing considerable finesse and poise, medium-weight tannins, a core of sweet and savoury tobacco and red cherry fruit, fresh acidity and a fine tapering finish.
It’s easy to forget about Alsace Riesling in the rush to buy examples of the grape from Germany and Australia, but they can be some of France’s best whites, especially if they are made in a dry style, like this one. The wine is fresh and delicate, with lovely lime-like flavours, some stony minerality, a hint of the complex bitterness that is so typical of the region and a fine, lingering finish.