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An Italian Tasting With Selfridges

The Graped Crusader is back with the latest installment of his blog and this month he attended an Italian wine master class where Dawn Davies, Head Sommelier at Selfridges, took him through some of the range of Italian wines on offer in the store. I’ve always liked Italian wines due to Italy being a regular holiday destination. They do however seem to suffer slightly in this country due to the way we tend to consume wine. In Italian culture wine is seen almost as a table condiment in the same way as salt and pepper. As a result the wines are usually highly acidic and tannic and at their best with a complimentary food. Unfortunately we Brits drink a lot of our wine on its own, meaning Italian styles can suffer as a result and perhaps don’t have the popularity they might otherwise deserve!

I’ve set out below my review of the wines we had with a notional mark out of 20 to signify my assessment of the wine. This is of course all entirely subjective, and I’d encourage you to try some of the varied range which Selfridges has to offer.

Sanvigilio Pinot Grigio 2010 (£7.99)

Pale in colour with apple hints and floral notes. This is a fairly standard Pinot Grigio but sadly it’s just not a wine which I’m a fan of! If you’re into your Pinot Grigio this is well worth a try, and I noticed some mutterings of appreciation from around the room, but it’s just not for me.

Soave Castelcerino Filippi 2009 (£14.99)

This is an unoaked model of Soave and it bares more than a passing resemblance to a Chablis with its buttery notes and deep colour. I was impressed with the creamy texture of this wine and it was a much more interesting wine than the Pinot Grigio. Proof that people shouldn’t give up on Soave if they’ve been less than impressed in the past. A really fresh wine with good acidity.

Donafugata Sherazade 2009 (£14.99)

We only tried two whites and then moved onto this Sicilian red which showed really vibrant red berry flavours and slight notes of leather. This has tannins and acidity in abundance, and you’d definitely want this with food. Light in body and very refreshing for a red. I think for £14.99 this is pretty good value.

Rosso di Montalcino Fanti 2010 (£19.99)

Onto a “baby Brunello” next. This has a lovely cherry nose with hints of strawberries on the palate. It’s a really acidic wine which was positively mouthwatering! It was at this point that I began to wish I’d brought some cured meats along with me. Must prepare better next time…..

Selfridges Chianti 2009 (£11.99)

I always feel a compulsion to stick up for Chianti following the battering it took having been served up in those awful wicker covered bottles in the 1990’s. This had a meaty, leathery nose with black cherry fruits on the palate. Enough hint of oak to make it interesting without going overboard. A good Chianti example and at a keen price.

Alpha-Zeta Amarone 2007/2008 (£31.99)

I’ll start by declaring that I love Amarone, and therefore fully expected to be impressed by this one. This is made by an award winning Kiwi winemaker in the Valpolicella region of Italy by drying grapes on straw racks before fermentation to increase the intensity of flavour. It’s a labour intensive way to produce wine but the results speak for themselves. This is a dark and brooding monster of a wine. At 15% abv it could be forgiven for being on the strong side but the alcohol is kept perfectly in check. Impressive dark berry fruits.

Moscato D’Asri Saracco 2010 (£16.99)

This was another winner for me on the night. At only 5.5% abv this is a great option for the end of a meal. It’s like the albino cousin of Innocent Bystander’s much heralded “Pink Moscato” from Australia. Lovely pineapple hints on the plate and a very fruity nose. You could sit quite happily in the garden with nothing more than this and a long straw and have a perfectly good day!

If you’ve sampled any of the wines above I’d love to know what you think so please feel free to comment below…

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