Modern Italian Whites
Will’s summer guide to Italian white wines…..
I was taking my usual Friday morning stroll through the warehouse to pick out a couple of bottles for the weekend when I was hit by an enormous feeling of nostalgia. My mind had travelled back nearly 20 years to the glory days of wine retail and my body started to warm to the memories and feelings of walking round a Majestic recommending and pointing out bottles for customers.
Italian whites were as popular as ever back then. It was a daily event to be stood in front of the Italian white section recommending Soave, Orvieto, Frascati and, oh what was it called again? Pinot Something, I forget…. Anyway there was always a massive stack of it that seemed to be in vogue at the time. As the warm fuzzy memories took over me I started to crave dry Italian white and went to grab some. My nostalgia was quickly replaced by indecision and a realisation of how Italian white has moved on over the past 20 years. I was spoilt for choice and went on a new journey of discovery.
Starting on the island of Sicily off Italy’s south western coast you’ll find Catarratto Terra Firma 2017 which is a delightfully dry, crisp white with zesty mineral notes and a touch of peachy fruit behind the dominant green apple flavour. At £8.50 it’s a lovely bottle of wine.
As you move on to main land Italy and work your way up the western coast through Calabria and Basilicata you come to the Amalfi coast and the historic city of Naples in the region of Campania. It is here that Italy produces arguably the country’s most exciting white wines. Falanghina, Fiano & Greco all thrive here and all have the ability to make fresh fruity wines for early drinking or to make fuller more complex wines. All three of these are made by the superb co-operative La Guardiense who are based in Santa Lucia in the province of Benevento. The area has undulating hills and plains which creates different micro climates suited to the different grape varieties. The Falanghina Antiche Torri 2018 is sourced from a mixture of sites in the wider Benevento region and is very expressive for it’s humble £7.99 price tag. Saline mineral notes are perfectly balanced with stone fruit, yellow plum and rich citrus. The Greco and Fiano “Janare” 2018’s at £9.99 are both sourced from the sub region of Sannio which has some brilliant hillside vineyards. The Fiano is fresh, citrusy and a delightful almond/ginger finish to it. The Greco is fuller, more intense and explodes with a basket of fruit salad flavours.
From Campania we head due east to the rustic but unfortunately no longer a cheap secret holiday destination of Puglia. Here things get a little bit wacky! It’s estimated that Italy has around 2000 native grape varieties and although production is centred on the top 50ish, there are still wine makers out there who want to rediscover and champion long lost varieties. Gianni Carparelli, owner of I Pastini in the Valle d’Itria which is in land, between Brindisi and Bari is one such example. Locorotondo, I Pastini 2018 (£11.99) is a blend of three local grape varieties – Verdeca (60%), White Alessano (35%) & Minutolo (5%). It’s an extremely elegant and effortless wine with green fruit, apple and tangy lemon. Minutolo ‘Rampone’ I Pastini 2017 (£14.49) was near enough extinct before Gianni brought it back. It’s a unique wine with an exotic Muscat aroma, floral notes, jasmine and tropical fruit – well worth trying.
Further up the Adriatic coast, past Abruzzo is the Marche region. It’s here that the climate in the northern Marche changes from Mediterranean to continental and it’s where we find Italy’s most prised white grape variety – Verdicchio. Aldo Cifola who owns La Monacesca makes one of the region’s best examples which demonstrates just how well the grape can age. Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva ‘Mirum’ La Monacesca 2014 (£21.00) is a heady glass of wine with similar characteristics to white Burgundy. There is no great secret to Aldo’s success. It’s down to low yields, late harvest, old vine Verdicchio sourced from top parcels high in the Apennines. The acidity is electric and the concentration of fruit outstanding. There is no oak, just sweet luscious fruit. Marche is also home to organic producer Saladini Pilastri which has been a firm favourite here since day one. Falerio, Saladini Pilastri 2018 (£8.99) has been a regular with us for many years and offers fantastic value. It’s a blend of Trebbiano, Pecorino and Passerina and is almost too good to be true with its lively pear and lemon fruit.
North of Marche is Emilia Romagna, a food lovely paradise! Eating in Bologna should be on everyone’s bucket list. Further towards the coast in Rimini we find Biodynamic producer San Valentino who make a lovely wine from Grechetto, known locally as Rebola. Rebola ‘Bacaia’ San Valentino 2018 (£12.50) is a tangy, zesty, dry white with nutty spice behind the lush ripe citrus fruit.
It’s not uncommon in Italy for the same grape to be called different names in different regions but it’s north of Emilia Romagna in Lugana DOC which straddles the Veneto and Lombardy regions on the shore of Lake Garda where the biggest confusion lies. Lugana DOC uses the Trebbiano di Lugana grape variety which is not the ubiquitous Trebbiano grown all over Italy but in fact Verdicchio which has now been given the new name of Turbiana. Lugana Nunzio Ghiraldi 2017 (£12.50) is one of the best examples around. A wine that never gives much away on the nose but explodes on the palate with orange blossom, tropical fruit, lime, honey and lemongrass. Snap it up whilst you can because up to 25% of Lugana’s vineyards may be lost to a planned new railway (Sigh).
Due west of Lombardy is the red wine dominated region of Piedmont. The region does however have a few classic white wines with the most famous probably being the 90’s classic Gavi. Gavi Casa Ernesto 2018 (£9.99) is a textbook example made from the Cortese grape. It’s zingy freshness gives the wine an instant appeal and is backed up with lemon and peach fruit to make it a sophisticated choice. Less well known is the Arneis grape which can be found round the hills of Roero. Roero Arneis ‘Camestri’ Marco Porello 2018 (£12.99) is a full bodied effort with layers of flavour and wonderful mineral texture. Lastly and even less well known is Timorasso. This extraordinary grape was almost extinct but has found a new father in Walter Massa who has single handily revived the ancient grape. We owe him a lot of thanks because it is one of Italy’s most wonderful white wines. Timorasso ‘Derthona’ Walter Massa 2016 (£22.00) comes from the steep hills east of Tortona. It produces tiny yields but has immense concentration and develops over time in the glass. Apple, apricot and tangerine notes can all be found. It’s a great example of a white wine that is literally alive in the glass but is not cloudy, oxidised or reeking of cider.
Oh and if none of the 16 grape varieties above get you excited then I’d highly recommend a glass of Pinot Grigio Terrazze della Luna 2018 (£8.99) from Treviso in the Vento region which sounds like it would fit your personality perfectly!
To order online, please go to our shop – https://www.de-burgh.com/shop/
Alternatively, e-mail Will – firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com. If you would prefer to speak to a nice human, please call the office – 01875 595 100
Part des Anges – Domaine Sainte Croix
Imbibe UK gathered a panel of 25 Somms and asked them to pick their favourite wines under £20. We are fortunate to have them choose one of our wines from Domaine Sainte Croix.
The Part des Anges is a delicious late harvest (natural) old vine Carignan Noir that oozes chocolate, coffee, sweet spice and fig characters.
For more info, follow the link or call the office – 01875 595 100
Alasdair Carnie joins us in March to support the team in the office and warehouse. He comes to us as a keen Marathon runner, is a fluent French speaker and dabbled in the world of Cognac making for several years before settling back in Scotland to work in the Whisky industry. With a history like that, he is going to fit in very nicely here at de Burgh!
The Prosecco bubble is at last beginning to burst and Cremant is becoming a thing again and justly so. In February 2018, we did not have even have one on our list and now we have three – with a view to potentially listing more! The Meyer Fonne was the first Cremant we took on and were very impressed with the oodles of flavour and silky soft finish. The Bourgogne Blancs de Blancs from Verpaille is toasty and yeasty, whilst the de Chanceney Rose from the Loire is packed full of crunchy summer pudding fruit and looks super too. What’s not to love…
The new wines from Domaine de la Verpaille in Burgundy have just arrived at Fordel. Will and Christine found this lovely little estate on their way back from holidaying in France. They are rich, classy and we like to think, fantastic value too. The wines aren’t bad either!
We also have a brace of organics from Bodegas la Purisima in Yecla, Spain. A Macabeo and Monastrel, both of which are great value, juicy and tasty. We are really looking forward to hearing your feedback on them.
We are now gearing up for Spring and planning our Spring Offer along with another photo shoot to get your mouths watering. If you are not already subscribed to our mailing list then follow the link to sign up to avoid missing out on upcoming Spring and Summer offers!
This is just a snippet of what we have been we have been up to since the turn of the year. We can guarantee that there is much more in the pipeline….
Let’s hope that the sun shines again this summer!
Winter Offer Ends Jan 31st
Whether you have been partaking in Dry January or not, stock up for February before our Winter Offer ends tomorrow.
Everything can be found on our website, including the Magnums, Mixed Cases and much more!
If you have any questions or further info about the wines, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Office – 01875 595 100
E-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org
Christmas/New Year Opening Hours and Delivery
**C H R I S T M A S D E L I V E R Y **
Guaranteed UK wide delivery for Christmas has now past ( Monday 17th December) but we can still guarantee delivery in central Scotland. For other all other areas, please contact the office – we are still taking orders! – 01875 595 100. You can of course still collect from our warehouse if you wish.
**F E S T I V E O P E N I N G H O U R S**
Friday 21st December 9-5pm
Monday 24th December 9-12pm
Thursday 27th December 9-5pm
Friday 28th December 9-5pm
Monday 31st December 9-12pm
Wednesday 3rd January 9-5pm
As always, we are always happy to help if you have any questions….
phone: 01875 595 100
If you are a little pressed for time, we have put together a selection of mixed cases for those who would rather let us choose. They also make great gifts!
There are 5 to choose from- take a look here
Winter at de Burgh
Every year, we do a happy dance when our customers come to us for their festive tipples and we cannot thank you enough for your support, time and again. As an independant wine merchant, we work hard to find an exciting and diverse selection of Wines, Fizz, Champagne and Spirits throughout the year. When it comes to deciding what goes into our Winter Offer, we choose wines that we love to drink ourselves and serve at social occasions with friends or family. We hope you love them as much as we do.
We have Magnums, Gift ideas, wines for entertaining and mixed cases. Take a look here for our winter offer
OR go to our shop online We are always happy to help on the phone – 01875 595 100
OR email – email@example.com
Bordeaux at de Burgh
It’s those Autumn cliches that we all love; cosy jumpers, leafy walks, hearty stews and a delicious glass of Bordeaux in front of the fire.
We really want to shout about a few of our wines from Bordeaux and have put together an offer of 12 favourites, some old, some new, which are excellent value and we know you will absolutely love!
To get you in the mood we asked Tarquin and Will for their top Bordeaux finds from this year.
Tarquin is a great cook and recommends slow roasted lamb with the Domaine Chante Alouette Cormeil Saint Emilion Grand Cru 2002. Will’s choice would be
Chateau Bellerive Medoc 2014, with a cheese board, in front of his log burner!
Cellar Cal Pla
The Rise of Cal Pla
In the southwestern corner of Priorat, Cellar Cal Pla can be found in the village of Porrera. It is the largest village and is considered to be more temperate than other villages in the area, due to its location in the valley, carved out by the Cortiella river and the advantage of having of north-facing vineyards sites.
Cal Pla is owned by Joan Sangenís who is descended from eight generations of local farmers who cultivated various crops in Porrera. His family first started making wine in 1814 and until 1996, they sold their wines in bulk to the residents of the village. In 1988 Joan’s parents, who both still tend to the family’s vines, purchased Mas d’En Compte which gave them scope for expansion. The Mas ( an old farmhouse) came with a ancient, ruined house in the village which they renovated with the intention of estate bottling their wines. Whilst Joan finished his studies in Oenology, his parents undertook the huge task of restoring the vineyards which were in disrepair. They brought the old vines back to life and planted new ones with the aim of establishing Cellar Cal Pla.
The family work with 20 hectares of vines around Porrera, where they vary in age, from 15 to 80 years old. The oldest vines are in the Mas d’En Cacador vineyard which produce Garnacha and Carignan. These vines could be described as the ‘grand cru’ of Porrera. Due to the location of the vineyards (terraces) and a steep incline for some of them, farming is hard work but the the warm, dry climate lends itself to farming organically. Indigenous varieties are mostly grown here, such as Garnacha Blanca, Xarel lo, Picapoll Blanca, Macabeu and Moscatel for the whites as well as Carignan and Garnacha for the reds. The estate also grows Cabernet Sauvignon.
Grapes are harvested by hand. Whites see a short pre-fermentation maceration on the skins before pressing and fermentation is carried out in stainless steel tanks followed by ageing in new French oak barrels. The reds which are also fermented in tank, are macerated for longer, lasting over 30 days. Once the primary fermentation is complete the wines are aged in concrete or French oak barrels and foudres.
We have five wines from Cellar Cal Pla and we urge you to try them. They are very typical of the Priorat region and vary in style. You can find all five wines in our online shop.