by MICHAEL PINKUS
There is so much to love about Italy: the people, the food, the people, the wine, the people, the landscapes, the people, their generosity, the food, the wine, the land… it’s all very circular.
There is just so much I love about Italy, and at the moment, so much I miss about it. But there is good news on the horizon, with vaccines being rolled out across the province through the month of March, I thought there is no better reason to start dreaming of travel again… and one of my favourite places in the world to visit is Italy. We all have our reasons, what’s yours?
Here are eight wines from “The Boot” that I enjoyed over the past few months, and are currently available, through the LCBO or, where indicated, via an agent.
Good ★★★ ½
Very Good ★★★★
Excellent ★★★★ ½
+ Wines with a little bit extra.
Borgo Salcetino 2017 Chianti Classico
Italy, $21.95, LCBO 17399
The first thing you’ll notice is the good acidity backing this wine up—once you get through that, the sour cherry bitterness is the next thing to emerge. By the time you’ve had a few sips it’s the red fruit upon entry that helps complete the wine plus some subtle oaky/smoky notes on the finish.
Matane 2018 Primitivo
Italy, $15.95, LCBO 434290
This is Italian Zinfandel (aka: Primitivo) from Puglia. The wine has a nice balance of red and black plum, plus hints of licorice. The alcohol is a very respectable 13.5 per cent (so many from California are 14+ percent), and there are some dusty tannins and wild blueberries on the finish. Very tasty.
Tenuta Sette Ponti 2017 Crognolo
Italy, $34.95, LCBO 727636
This Sangiovese/Merlot (?) bowled me over with the amount of fruit and spice it has along with the great balance, and it even shows some restraint: red and black fruit with a juicy mid-palate along with plenty of spice and smoke on the finish. As it opens there are more layers that come into play: tobacco, vanilla and even leather, then, by the time the bottle was empty, blueberry, cassis, blackberry and plum had all made an appearance. This one needs a lie down of about three to five years, but you would not be committing infanticide if you opened it up now, just make sure you give it some air in a big glass.
Torre Zambra 2017 Madia, Montepulciano D’Abruzzo
$13.95, Italy, LCBO 17403
A lovely floral, blackberry and cassis-laden wine backed by smoky and herbal nuances. It’s enticing and enjoyable all the way through to its spicy finish. The only drawback here is the plastic cork, so buy only what you’ll drink in the next year or two as this one will not last in the cellar.
Rocca delle Macie 2017 Chianti Riserva
$15.95, Italy, LCBO 111641
A well-rounded, easy-drinking Chianti with nice cherry, mocha and toasty notes along with subtle earthiness, blackberry and black currants on the finish.
Goretti 2018 Il Maggio
$29.95, Italy, Consignment: Winehouse Imports
This 100 per cent Grechetto wine sees some time in oak and you get a hint of that influence on the palate. There’s a lemony note on the nose with moments of toast, stone fruit, honey tangerine and even floral nuances, but the acidity keeps everything in-check.
Goretti 2017 Le Mura Saracene Montefalco Rosso
$26.95, Italy, Consignment: Winehouse Imports
Aromas of plum, blackberry and vanilla; the palate follows and adds touches of mocha and spiced-black cherry. There’s a hint of oak on the finish but it’s subtle adding on extra layer to the wine. The tannins are non-aggressive, it’s a dark, dense and delicious wine—definitely worth a multiple purchase as it’ll age well five to seven years in the cellar.
Aurelio Settimo 2015 Barolo
$54.99, Italy, Consignment: Profile Wine Group
Usually, you need to lay a bottle of Barolo down years to get the full benefits, but 2015 was a very different year, and while this could see the cellar for a number of years to come, there is an approachability factor here worth exploring now. Aromas of floral, cherry, cranberry and spice lead to very much the same on the palate… comes across light and easy, almost silky, with more spice notes than tannin bite. Rugged yet approachable with a medium length finish and a real drink now feel; but cellar time will also add more complexity.