Franciacorta DOCG du Lari Chardonnay NV– From Lombardy, Italy’s version of champagne, made by the traditional method and required to spend longer on the lees than champagne itself. Very youthful and fruity (apple, pear) on the nose and some brioche, bubbles tended to fade quickly. Generally liked but not outstanding, reasonable value at £19 (M&S)
Langhe Arneis DOC 2015, Ascheri, Piedmont – From one of the lesser-known Italian white grapes, rather silent on the nose until it warmed up a little in the glass, then some white fruit (pineapple, peaches?) in evidence and some richness to the palate. A pleasant but not outstanding wine. £13 (M&S)
Teroldego Rotaliano 2015, Trentino-Alto Adige – made for M&S, did not offer a lot on the nose but lovely young purple colour and very soft on the palate, little in the way of tannins, with redcurrant, plum and cherry notes, not at all jammy, quite a savoury finish. A really nice lunchtime red at 12.5%; Good value at £8 at M&S
Valpolicella 2015, Allegrini, Veneto – blend with main grape Corvina Veronese, a typical wine of the Lake Garda region and very familiar from past student days, although this wine much higher quality than from those days! Sweet cherries and touch of blackberry fruit on the palate, very quaffable wine, what not to like! Quite light at 13% and reasonable value (£10.50 from Wine Society)
Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiori 2013, La Casetta, Veneto – the more serious side of Valpolicella, its age obvious from the brownish rim; rich red fruit and a touch of smokiness on the nose, spicy and rich with hints of dried fruit on the palate, maybe a touch of butterscotch, and lovely velvet tannins to give it structure. Blend of Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella grapes. Good value at £14.99 or cheaper in multiples (Majestic)
Amarone della Valpolicella 2013, Cantina Negrar, Veneto – once given a little air, a typical wonderful rich nose of red and dried fruit from the dried grapes, reinforced on the palate with the hint of dark chocolate that was expected; very dry finish, and just a slight snap of alcohol burn (it is 15% after all) suggesting the wine not quite in balance. Arguable the most liked wine of the evening, very good value at £19.99 (Waitrose)
Nebbiolo Langhe DOC 2014, C G.D. Vajra, Langhe – the first of two Nebbiolos and what a treat! Such a rich nose, distinct hint of violets and a wine with wonderful acidity and structure, Clearly made in a modern style so the tannins were smooth and not aggressive for such a young Nebbiolo, beautiful plum and back cherry on the palate and excellent mouthfill, plenty of ageing potential. Very good value from Wine Society (£14.50). My personal favourite of the tasting as it was a little more approachable than the next wine…..
Barolo Riserva DOCG 2004 Terra Da Vino, Piedmont – probably not given enough air as the nose was initially quite restrained but opening In the glass, would have ideally been decanted. The bottle age showed on the rim and the expected characteristics of rich red fruit and that savoury hint of tar were in evidence, along with a touch of cedar/pencil-box. The tannin backbone was firm but not obtrusive and led to a long dry and savoury finish. A more conservative take on this classic wine with the structure to match and also good value, for one of the most expensive of Italian wines, at £22.99 from Waitrose.