Italian Reds

Sharon Wilson Be it food, wine or clothes, Italians like quality. So, when an invitation to a Zoom Wine Tasting from the Italian Chamber of Commerce partnering with Independent Wine appears in my inbox, I scratch a diary entry. Pre-tasting, I receive three bottles, a Montepulciano, a Chianti and a Barolo. I am no oenologist but know good wines when I see them partly due to drinking many bad ones. These bottles all have top-notch credentials. Chianti Classico is produced by Castello di Radda winery in Tuscany. More elegant than your usual Italian red, this one tastes of violets and spices. It has two glasses from Gambero Rosso, 90 James Suckling points and various other wine gongs; awards given by experts through blind tastings. Furthermore, Independent Wine select wines that have won top honours: "There are more than 381,000 wineries in Italy – how do you choose a wine that’s good? That’s where we come in. Independent Wine is the UK’s leading specialist in premium Italian wine. We work directly with boutique wineries in Italy, taste hundreds of wines and select the best few." We move on to a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Orlandi Contucci Ponno winery. I learn that the varietal used to be mass-produced as table wine until one female pioneer realized its potential. She established a sub-zone for production in Colline Teramane, which received its own DOCG in 2003. There are only 6000 bottles produced a year. It is smooth and the most accessible of the wines we taste. You could curl up with milk chocolate and a box set as company for this one. It tastes of juicy black cherries and boasts two ‘red’ glasses from Gambero Rosso. 'Tre Bichieri', i.e., three glasses from the wine buffs at GR, go to the powerful, boysy Barolo from the Forte Masson winery in the Langhe of Barolo designated a world heritage site. Liquorice, dried rose, leather, black pepper and aged in oak, this red too has a whopping 91 James Suckling points. All three wineries are owned by the Gussalli Beretta family (also known for guns) and all three are robust, so food (rib-eye, game and cheese) is not only recommended but needed. I would recommend a visit to the the website of Independent Wine which is easy to navigate and unintimidating but not at the expense of comprehensive information on each bottle. They offer free next day delivery and same day delivery for Edinburgh.

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