Summergate Fine Wines & Spirits recently hosted a portfolio tasting of its Italian, Spanish, German and Austrian wines. Although there were only about 30 wines available, there was no shortage of gems, especially in the Italian selection.
One of my favourite Italian wineries is Tenuta delle Terre Nere in Sicily. Unlike the usual big and muscular Sicilian wines, Tenuta delle Terre Nere wine is refreshing and delicate thanks to its vineyard location at 600- to 1,000-metre altitude on the slopes of Mount Etna. Grapes grown at this cool climate ripen slowly with good fruit concentration, preserving their natural acidity.
Tenuta delle Terre Nere’s rosé, Etna Rosato, made from the native grape Nerello Mascalese, is a new arrival. It has a pleasant floral nose and a touch of salinity on the palate. It’s great on its own or enjoyed with snacks. No doubt it will be a popular happy-hour wine at restaurants.
The winery’s two red wines, Etna Rosso Calderara Sottana and Etna San Lorenzo, are also made from 100% Nerello Mascalese, but their vines are much older. Both wines have depth and complexity and can develop for another 8–10 years.
I am not a big fan of Prosecco, but Torresella is full of surprises. Its Extra Dry NV has a pleasing white peach aroma without the often cloying palate.
Amidst the growing popularity of rosé wine, Prosecco producers had been lobbying for a new appellation of Rosé Prosecco DOC, which was finally approved in 2020, with the first vintage released in 2021. Pink Prosecco must use the same white Glera grape as white Prosecco, but up to 15% of Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) can be included in order to achieve a pink colour. The black grape adds red apple and raspberry flavours with a more rounded fullness. Both wines have an appealing mineral, saline palate, enhancing their freshness.
Speri is a family-owned estate established in 1874 in the Valpolicella DOC in Veneto, located in the north-east of Italy. Three generations work together across the business, making impressive red wine using certified organic grapes. Valpolicella Classico is an entry-level, easy-drinking wine that’s best served slightly chilled in a casual setting. Valpolicella Classico Superiore is the next level up, made from riper grapes. However, Speri’s Valpolicella Classico Superiore Sant’Urbano is made of grapes that have been left to dry for 20–25 days, giving the wine an extra layer of complexity layered with notes of dried fruits.
By law, Amarone della Valpolicella Classico must be made from 100% dried grapes and is a big, powerful wine. Speri’s Armarone, although containing 15% alcohol, expresses an elegant side that shows depth rather than power.
Moving to the west but still in northern Italy is Bruno Rocca from Barbaresco in Piedmont, the DOCG region next to Barolo, sharing the same Nebbiolo grapes. These grapes produce two styles of wine: a traditional style where the wine is aged in big, old Slovenian barrels and a modern style where the wine is aged in new French barriques. Although Bruno Rocca uses French barriques, they are not new, so the wine is not overwhelmed by the clove and sweet spice flavours possessed by most modern-style wines.
Rabaja is a famous Cru vineyard, and its Barbaresco Rabaja 2018 is still young, with years of ageing ahead. The grapes of Trifole Dolcetto d’Alba are from the vineyard right next to Rabaja. With no oak ageing, this wine is expressive, vibrant and fresh.
Summergate Fine Wines & Spirits is a reputable importer, representing over 60 estates from both the Old and New Worlds.