Perhaps the dominating feature of these wines from the heel of Italy is their mineral character, stemming from the volcanic soil that the vines live in. Less know that the wines of Northern Italy, and with many different varieties, this was a very entertaining and educational evening.
2015 Pipoli Greco/Fiano blend (IGP Basilicata, Vigneti de Vulture) (Winedirect, ca. £10) Lovely fresh slightly floral nose with a hint of sweetness (honey?) on the palate and a good mineral backbone despite being fully dry. Grown at 800 metres to avoid the searing heat of inland Basilicata. One to quaff in the summer.
2015 Tre Fiori Greco di Tufo (DOCG Campania) (Waitrose £10.99) A rather more robust wine, higher acidity than the previous blend, quite rich with some plummy fruit on the palate, a long and distinctly mineral finish emphasised by the firm acidity.
2015 Feudi di San Gregorio Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Bianco (DOC Campania) (Campania Food and Wines Ltd., £15) A much richer style than the previous wines, elegant , perfumed and with a vlvety touch of glycerine on the palate enhanced by the low acidity, but not at all flabby due to the characteristic minerality. 80% Coda di Volpe, a grape unique to the region, and the balance the more familiar Falanghina.
2015 Feudi di San Gregorio Serrocielo Falanghina (DOC Campania) (Campania Food and Wines Ltd., £15) 100% Falanghina and a textbook demonstration of volcanic minerality on the nose and the palate, almost toasted rock! Quite full-bodied, lovely acidity, lime and lemon citrus and tropical fruit notes, robust rather than elegant with a distinct prickle on the tongue.
2015 Feudi di San Gregorio Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Rosso (DOC Campania) (Campania Food and Wines Ltd., £15) A blend of Piedirosso and the more classical Aglianico, berry fruit on the nose with just a hint of leather (showing the light oaking); quite light-bodied with firm dry tannins and an almost dusty finish; could do with more bottle age. A long and mineral-rich finish, this needs oily foods.
2014 San Marzano Primitivo di Mandurai (DOC Puglia) (Winetrust100.co.uk, £12.95) A vibrant blackberry and dark fruit nose, hugely rich with red and dried fruit on the palate, amazing mouthfill with elements of violets and vanilla (aged in old oak) and a velvety low-tannin feel. Identical with Zinfandel, this wine has much more mineral character, especially on the finish, than the American style. A real favourite on the night.
2012 Francesco Candido Salice Salentino Riserva (DOC Puglia) (Winedirect £11.50) A blend of Negroamaro and a touch of Malvsia Nero, quite austere after the last red, with just a hint of Bordeaux-like character, touch of pencil-box on the nose, quite subtle and inky on the palate. With some bottle age, the tannins are fully settled and this wine should be drunk now. A very elegant wine, my personal favourite on the night and superb value for money, a steal.
2009 Basilisco Aglianico Vulture (DOC Basilicata) (Tannico Online, £25) A mature example of this famously tannic grape, a complex berry fruit nose, matured in a mix of new and old oak, with beautiful balance and firm but velvety tannins. Better with sausage (provided by Paul!) and with a very long finish. This wine is from a very small vineyard so production is low; has a long life ahead of it, well worth laying down.