Monday, 22 December 2008

Italian wine - the bible of guides?

Now that we're living here it seems as if Italy produces a near infinite varieties of wine - many of which never seem to leave their native land. Some of these wines are justifiably best left undiscovered while others are absolute gems. We've found the Gambero Rosso Slow Food guide to Italian wines to be absolutely indispensable when it comes to chosing what to buy. Until recently it was almost impossible to find a copy of this eloquent guide outside Italy but in the last couple of months I've noticed a copy in Hatchards in London and Brentano's ( I think ) in New York.

It was in the Gambero Rosso guide that we first came across the wines of Josko Gravener. Produced in Friuli these wines are aged in amphorae , as they would have been thousands of years ago ,and are a conscious attempt at reproducing natural wine as it would have been. Only 39.000 bottles are produced a year - a very low yield from the 18 hectares under production. Romes' best fish restaurant serves it as does Villa La Massa outside Florence - otherwise it remains largely unknown. When living in Scotland we were able to order it through a merchant in St.Andrews who was importing Italian wines directly.

The language in the guide is distinguished - I could spend all day reading the description of the vineyards up and down the country. Our local wine is Sagrantino and the Perticaia cantina produces one of the best. Writing about the Perticaia Montefalco Sagrantino 2004 the guide says : " the variety is stunning for its bouquet, packed with blackberry tightly wrapped in pungent,balsam-like medicinal herbs and lush spices. The palate fulfils that promise : spacious and deep,dense packed yet dynamic, with an ultra-luxe skein of tannins. Still young of course, it will reveal its true soul down the years ". Wonderful wine , glorious description.

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