Wine with Leslie Williams

Italy has been neglected on this page of late but I promise to make up for this in the next few weeks as I have two trips planned — one to Tuscany and one to the Veneto. There are colleagues of mine in the wine world that are older and more experienced than me that still don’t get Italy. It is true that Italy’s wines do sometimes exhibit more rusticity and that you are more likely to find volatile acidity and other faults than from say France, but I love their energy, diversity and vibrancy.

There are at least 330 grapes grown in Italy and with modern viticultural methods and know-how many so called workhorse grapes are being treated with new respect and are gaining fans. Grapes like teroldego

in Trentino and catarratto in Sicily will never be placed alongside the Veneto’s corvina or Piemonte’s nebbiolo but they have their place.

However, grapes like nerello mascalese and grillo in Sicily, aglianico in Basilicata, gaglioppo in Ciro Calabria and negroamaro in Puglia have been elevated, and are worth seeking out for flavour-filled, fruity wines.

SuperValu’s Italian sale runs from May 23 until June 12 and includes a couple of special offers that will be snapped up quickly so you may want to put a reminder in your phone for Thursday.

In particular there is a wooden case offer of six for €60 containing three smoky oak-drenched IGT negroamaro-merlot-primitivo and three fruit-driven primitivo di manduria. The oak on the former was almost overpowering so this is strictly for oak-enthusiasts; although the primitivo di manduria spends longer in oak it seems to have knitted in a little better.

Manduria in Puglia is the centre of primitivo production in southern Italy and you will also find it planted throughout the south thanks to the fame of its Californian namesake zinfandel. The grape originates in Croatia where it is known as tribidrag. All the selections below are from the SuperValu Italian sale and all are making their debut on this page except for the Barolo which I last featured in 2015 (from the lesser 2012 vintage).

For the diary: May 19, 11.30am to 3pm: Longueville House Orchard Blossom Walk, tour and lunch (served with excellent Longueville House cider of course). Cost: €85, Contact: 022 47156.

Contact Leslie Williams at wine@examiner.ie

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