Wine Reviews: Italian Selections

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 02-26-2023

Despite this current dose of winter weather across much of the country, Spring has seemed close for a while now. I’m looking forward to foraging spring mushrooms and celebrating with some bright white wines. Etna Bianco is great for this, and I have two delightful examples in this report, from the renowned producers Donnafugata and Duca di Salaparuta. Tuscany’s Pomino Bianco DOC also hits the spot with their zesty, focused, mineral-driven blends of Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco.

For reds, I have matching Etna Rossos – wines I’ve long loved from a region that is endlessly exciting to explore. And we have a relative rarity this week as well: a delicious, complex yet inexpensive Barolo. Perla Terra’s 2018 delivers what, for me, is an easy six-pack buy.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted. 

2021 Frescobaldi Pomino Bianco Italy, Tuscany, Pomino
SRP: $26
Light yellow color. A fascinating aromatic display of chalk and flint over top of dandelion and daisies, honeycomb, hay, basil and some chalk dust – spritely and complex. The palate shows a honeyed texture with salty, flinty vibes and crisp acidity, over top of yellow apples, which peach and limes. The notes of chamomile tea, white flowers, sea salt and honey round out this juicy but fresh, brisk, balanced wine. Perfect spring sipping Italian white wine. Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco. (89 points IJB)

2021 Duca di Salaparuta Etna Bianco Làvico Italy, Sicily, Etna DOC
SRP: $25
Rich yellow color. The nose shows vibrancy but a creamy, tropical depth as well, with lemons, kiwi and pineapple, topped in white flowers, honey, chalk dust, flinty and salty tones. The palate shows gorgeous balance with creamy, chunky fruit and racy, mouthwatering acidity. Flavors of pineapple, green apples and lemon, tossed with complex notes of yellow flowers, clean laundry, dried green herbs. The wine maintains this pure mountain stream and limestone essence throughout. Made from Carricante, and a lovely expression of this variety. (91 points IJB)

2020 Donnafugata Etna Bianco Sul Vulcano Italy, Sicily, Etna DOC
SRP: $39
A bright yellow color. The nose pops with peaches, lemons and kiwi, and a host of white and yellow flowers, with crushed stones and salty vibes. On the palate, this sports a nice depth of texture and crisp acidity, and the balance is very pretty. Limes, papayas, peaches, the fruit is matched with racy, salty, chalky vibes. There are so many nuances of flowers, minerals, mountain stream and green herbs. A crisp, vibrant, classic Carricante-based Etna Bianco, and worth seeking out! (92 points IJB)

2020 Donnafugata Etna Rosso Sul Vulcano Italy, Sicily, Etna DOC
SRP: $34
Vibrant ruby. Aromas of juicy cherries and wild raspberries, and complex tones of wild herbs, dried roses, menthol and white pepper. The palate shows a fresh and crushable appeal with dusty tannins, but it has a lot of depth and complexity as well. Raspberries, red apple peel, red cherries, the fruit is tangy and juicy and mixed with all sorts of savory, spicy nuances. Delicious notes of sage, earth, smoke, dried flowers, rose tea and white pepper add a lot to parse through and enjoy. A ton of fun, and a solid value. Nerello Mascalese with a dose of Nerello Cappuccio, aged 12 months in tank and French oak. (91 points IJB)

2020 Duca di Salaparuta Etna Rosso Làvico Italy, Sicily, Etna DOC
SRP: $30
Bright ruby color. So spicy and fresh on the nose, with crunchy red apples and tart cranberry, laced with all sorts of tea and spice, tobacco, warm clay, wild herbs, but it maintains this airy quality. The palate is crisp and fresh with dusty tannins, tangy raspberry and red plum fruit. Tones of paprika, red pepper, black tea and pickling spice add a lot of enjoyable, unique vibes. Pretty, complex, with a finish that sports the volcanic nuances and mineral elements. Really sums up what I love about Etna Rosso. Nerello Mascalese aged in a mix of tank and French oak for 12 months. (91 points IJB)

2018 Perla Terra Barolo Italy, Piedmont, Langhe, Barolo
SRP: $40
Deep purple color. The nose is delightfully spicy, with tobacco, black pepper and green herbs over a deep core of plum and tart currant fruit, with notes of fallen leaves and dried mushrooms. The palate sports crisp acidity and grippy tannins, and the balance is on point, build solidly but fresh and vibrant, with tangy currant and red plum fruit. The complexity is great, with these spiced tea, tar, black pepper, chewing tobacco and dried violets. This has a lot of depth, personality and age-worthiness packed in, and it’s a crazy good value for a Barolo – which is quite the rare treat. Give it a decant or a leave plenty for the second day, but this is delightful. (92 points IJB)

2017 Frescobaldi Chianti Classico Tenuta Perano Italy, Tuscany, Chianti, Chianti Classico DOCG
SRP: $28
Deep ruby color. A vibrant nose of red currants and tangy raspberries, with delightful mulling spices, dried roses, some mushroom and menthol tones – a savory, floral display. Suave tannins and fresh acidity on the palate, the fruit is a delicious mix of mulled cherries and tangy red plums, tossed with an interesting mix of spiced black tea, tobacco, bell pepper, incense and some soy tones. So food-friendly, ready to drink and please a crowd, while showing good balance and focus. (89 points IJB)

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