Monthly Mix

March Mixed Dozen 2017 - Italy's Alternative Side

Italy is the most diverse and interesting wine country in the world. There we said it! How could it not be? With over 1000 grape varieties strewn from north to south the boundaries of knowledge and sense of exploration are always being stretched way beyond the usual suspects of Barolo, Chianti, Amarone or Soave (to name a few).
Selected by Rory Craig

Italy is the most diverse and interesting wine country in the world. There we said it!  How could it not be? With over 1000 grape varieties strewn from north to south the boundaries of knowledge and sense of exploration are always being stretched way beyond the usual suspects of Barolo, Chianti, Amarone or Soave (to name a few). This mixed dozen is designed to turn your gaze (at least partially) elsewhere and investigate the multitude of other, but no less compelling, varieties and regions doing the traditional differently. We haven't gone full immersion and the dozen features plenty of "known knowns" like chianti and nebbiolo but there's a good lick of wines that feature varieties like Greco, Aglianico Bianco and Inzolia. The overriding theme of the dozen is to show that more than any country Italy produces esoteric wines that are drinkable, food friendly and delicious and not just interesting.

Starting off in the far North East of Italy, Castello di Buttrio Friulano 2014. Fruili and the surrounding regions are home to some of the finest dry whites in the world. A combination of mineral-rich soils and a particular climate (protected by the Alps and moderated by the Adriatic) gives wines that are full of saline tension and remarkable freshness. Further south and the great wine province of Veneto and the a province where the passito (where grapes are dried in the sun before vinification) is still used frequently (most famously in Amarone) is the fascinating Pasqua Passimento Bianco 2014. This white gains an extra degree of weight and richness that makes it a wine that can handle food but is also a good rink on its own.  As a counterpoint against this challenging style we have included the ultra reliable Allegrini Corte Giara Pinot Grigio 2015. Made by this famous family this wine is dry, crisp and totally "smashable".

Moving south - where so much is happening wine-wise and to Puglia we've included the  A Mano Bianco 2015. Made from Fiano and Greco; a couple of ancient varieties of the South that pair well in this delicious white. Stepping right and to the oft-overlooked region of Basilicata where the main game is the native Aglianico; the powerful and long lived red of the south. However here's a brilliant variation, a white Aglianico. Madonna Dellla Grazie Leucone 2015 is an highly rare and unusual style. A red vinified as a white with extremely delicate wine making, the volcanic soils impart a beautiful spicy perfume. Finishing the whites in Sicily, Paccamora Inzolia 2015. Striking acidity and freshness make this the ideal aperitif style white.

The reds start further up the peninsula in the Maremma: the coastal area gave birth to the Super Tuscan blends. Querciabella Mongrana 2013, one of our most loved imports mixes Cabernet and Merlot with Sangiovese and is fully biodynamic. As a little bit of familiar comfort, we could not resist including Fiorini Chanti Classico Superiore 2014. One of the first 2014's we have seen, this old school stalwart would suggest great things to come. Aquilani Sangiovese 2015 is also from Tuscany, and is made in a younger, fresher style with bright fruit.

Moving north to Roero, Correggia Roero Nebbiolo 2014. Roero is home to Nebbiolo and geologically is far older than its famous cousin Barolo. This Nebbiolo reflects its rugged countryside and sandy soils. No underdog group of wines would be complete without Marchesi Alfieri La Tota Barbera d'Asti 2013. This is literally perfect Barbera from a specialist and bottled under screw-cap especially for the Prince Wine Store. We finish far North on the Swiss border with Dirupi Rosso di Valtellina Ole 2015. This is Valtellina Nebbiolo, an expression like you have never seen - fresh, fragrant and spicy.