This is a gem from Sicily, only for once it doesn’t come from Etna but further north, overlooking the Straits of Messina. It was founded a decade ago by Andrea Barzagli, a former Italian international and Juventus footballer. Grillo, which is predominantly made from a Sicilian grape variety, has a refreshing crispness with lovely citric overtones that make it perfect either as an aperitif or with shellfish. This has ageing potential but it would be best to consume on release.
This wine hails from the slopes of an extinct volcano, but from the other end of Italy in the Veneto. It has a clean taste, as there is no oak used and has the liveliness and minerality which we have come to expect from a young Soave Classico. There are also apple and pear notes, which give it extra character and make it irresistible to drink by itself. Unlike some Soave producers, Gelmino and Cristina Dal Bosco produce their wines exclusively from the Garganega grape without blending either Trebbiano or Chardonnay.
I first wrote about this wine two years ago, as it impressed me with its depth of flavour and slightly restrained Sauvignon Blanc style. This is not an Antipodean “fruit salad on speed” experience, but a well behaved wine of character. From a slightly cooler Loire region than either Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé, Lionel Gosseaume has managed to emphasize the delicacy of the grape without sacrificing its superb balance and length. This wine is for those who want a Sauvignon Blanc without the gooseberries or passion fruit.
An absolute bargain from the Côtes de Bourg, the lesser-known Bordeaux appellation on the other side of the Gironde River from Margaux. In common with other right bank wines, this is predominantly merlot with the remainder cabernet sauvignon, giving it an immediate charm from one of the greatest recent vintages. However, this is a seriously structured wine and is one of the best value Bordeaux I have ever tasted without the jamminess, which blights many cheaper high alcohol Bordeaux. It will easily last another three to five years and will cope effortlessly with any red meat or casserole you place in front of it.
Made by the daughter of well-known local producer Pierre Gaillard, this is a lovely example of a northern Rhône wine, which is more nuanced than its bigger southern Rhône rivals. Located in the Crozes-Hermitage zone, Jeanne says her objective is to make a wine that is “rather supple and fruity”. The syrah grape is less overt than the grenache of southern Rhône and this is a particularly good example of its complexity. Best for current consumption with meat or game.
I wasn’t expecting this to be at all noteworthy, given the price for such a temperamental grape variety, but I was completely blown away by the result. Curiously, the fruity and floral elements of this early maturing pinot noir reminded me of Pialade, an eclectic southern Rhône wine made by Château Rayas, the grandest of all Châteauneuf-du-Pape. If only Beaujolais or other early maturing wines had this exuberance. I would be more than happy
to drink this wine by itself – and then order another bottle.