Italy En Primeur

A Word from Philippa Saunders

Italian Buyer at Stannary St Wine Co.

Italy is currently one of the most talked about countries in the world of wine. It has produced wine for thousands of years but the last 15-20 years has seen a marked increase in quality, thanks to a new wave of young growers who have improved vineyard management and winemaking techniques.  Whilst Piedmont is undoubtably one of the most exciting wine regions in the world, other lesser known parts of Italy are also producing world-class wines. With over 500 different grape varieties from 20 different regions, there is always something new to discover. The best white wines from Friuli, prove that Italian whites can, and do age beautifully. The powerful and often overlooked Aglianico grape from Basilicata is definitely worth cellaring. You may be familiar with Tuscany in the form of Chianti or Brunello but have you discovered wines from Scansano, in its south west corner?  In Italy, different and obscure does not mean a compromise on quality.  Even at the top end, it can offer incredible value for money, and especially when compared to other renowned wine regions.

After extensive tasting out there during the year, we have put together a selection of the very best Italy has to offer. Our New Release Italian Tasting this April means that you don't just have to take our word for it! We are delighted that many of our growers can show you themselves the brilliant wines they produce. In addition to the new vintages in the offer, we are showing one or two older/mature vintagesw - we have indicated in the brochure if these are available or not. This year we have two new additions to the range - Guido Rivella in Barbaresco and E Pira & Figli (Chiara Boschis) in Barolo. Guido made the wines at Gaja for 44 years before 'retiring' and now makes wine with his family at their estate in Montestefano. I'm sure Chiara's wines are familiar to many of you and we are delighted to be able to add both of them to our growing Italian portfolio. It goes without saying that quite a number of these wines are extremely sought after and quantities are limited. Some will be on allocation so please di register your interest as soon as possible. As we are bringing together regions from all over Italy, there are a mixture of vintages that have been released around the same time. There is an overview of recent vintages below.

I hope you enjoy discovering something new!

Find the full offer here.

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Brief Note on Recent Vintages

2014      2015      2016       2017
2014 was a cool, wet year all over Italy (Sicily is the exception where it is one of the best in recent vintages). Growers who made Brunello had to make sacrifices in the vineyard as stringent fruit selection was the key to successful winemaking. Many growers only made 1/2 to 1/3 of the normal production amount. Despite difficult conditions, there are some wonderful examples of vibrant, graceful wines, albeit a bit lighter in body than other more recent vintages. It is a vintage with instant appeal; one that you can drink now whilst you wait for vintages like 2013 to age further in bottle. Piedmont seemed to have surprised many people when the wines were bottled.The results speak for themselves – refined, elegant with much better ageing potential than was ever imagined.  .   .  2015 in Piedmont was a very good year, much less challenging than 2014. It was a hot summer but the vines managed to avoid hydric stress thanks to the good water supply in the soil that came from abundant spring rain. The harvest happened at the normal time and the resulting wines show a balanced structure, full bodied, and similar to 2011. In Tuscany, it was a similar story. The summer was very warm, but not as dry as 2017. The vegetative cycle was in advance until August but a cooler second half of August rebalanced the vines and from then on the weather conditions were perfect right through until harvest, resulting in ‘textbook’ phenolic maturation.       .   2016 will go down as a truly wonderful vintage in many parts of Italy. Not as ‘easy’ as 2015 on the whole, but winter snow helped sanify the vineyards and spring was fresh and windy with a good amount of rain. The summer wasn’t exceedingly hot. Autumn was sunny and dry which was good for the harvest and for the end of the ripening. Generally, the vintage displays high acidity, great aromatic concentration and a good overall balance. In Barbaresco - wines have a similar structure to 2015 but with more elegance and a deeper aromatic profile. Chianti Classico, Friuli and Barbaresco have all received over 95 rating from The Wine Advocate.     .   .   2017 for many regions was a hot, dry vintage. In Chianti Classico there was no heavy rainfall at all from November ‘16 to November ‘17. Luckily night temperatures remained cool until July, and minimal rainfall in August allowed the vines to survive. Although the dry conditions caused damage to some berries, rainfall during the first half of September enabled the sugars and acidity to rebalance. All things considered, the results are good and quality is high. Friuli got hit by frost and then hail in June and August, and in the end growers lost up to 50% of the production. The summer was hot, with frequent storms and downpours, which made the growing season challenging. Harvest was later than normal because of rain but the results are very interesting, and the vintage is somewhere between the lightness of 2014 and the roundness and richness of 2016. 


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