Wine Reviews: Italian Selections

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 12-24-2022

I hope you all are having a safe and happy holiday season so far. Winter is in full force over much of the U.S. at the moment, and a dangerous storm is affecting travel for millions, so I hope you’re in a warm place surrounded by loved ones — and hopefully some good food and wine.

I recently made my first lasagna of the season, which is a tradition for my family in the holidays, and I was happy to taste through some Italian wines and share some merriment with friends and family. And as travel and gift bills come due, I think it’s a great time to share some inexpensive options. So, to round out 2022, I have some Italian selections to share.

Even though it’s a frigid weekend for most everyone in the U.S. this week, I have a batch of mineral-driven Italian white wines. They’re all imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct, sourced from estates across Italian regions. This represents a small snapshot of the diversity in Italian white wines and the value in here is something to get excited about.

I also have some interesting wines from Tenuta Sallier de la Tour. This Sicilian estate is owned by Tasca d’Almerita, and, earlier this year, began being imported by Dalla Terra. The price points are attractive, but more so the wines in the bottle. They offer a lot of classic Sicilian flavors, along with complexity and depth that outperforms their price tag. This was my first time trying this estate, and I’ll happily return to these wines when I’m looking for something fun and delicious from Sicily. (I’d be happy to see a bottle on a by-the-glass list for sure.)

These wines were received as trade samples. The white wines were tasted single-blind, while the rest were tasted sighted. Happy holidays to all!

2021 Garofoli Verdicchio di Matelica Supèra – Italy, Marche, Verdicchio di Matelica
SRP: $16
Brisk and bright on the palate, with chalk dust and sea salt sprinkled over lemons and green apples, tossed with mint, basil and white tea, and the mix is vibrant and delightful. The palate is racy and vibrant, a saline-infused stream of river stones and crushed shells runs underneath the green melon, kiwi and white peach fruit. Sports a crystalline focus, with plenty of white flowers, chalk, white tea, green herbal tones and fennel hints. Mouthwatering but complex, and a screaming value. Although the estate dates back to the 1870s, this is their first Verdicchio di Matelica DOC wine, and it’s a great start! (90 points IJB)

2020 Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco Versalto – Italy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Vigneti Delle Dolomiti IGT
SRP: $28
The nose pops with orange peels and white peaches, with some interesting notes of honey, walnut, ginger, some flinty, floral tones to unpack as well. Zesty acidity supported by a mild but pleasantly creamy texture, and the fruit is juicy and fresh: golden pears, white peaches, orange peel. There’s a lot of flinty, mineral-driven tones underneath that are really attractive. I’d love this with some oysters, raw or grilled. Cask-fermented and aged, this has a unique personality and is highly delicious. (90 points IJB)

2021 Fattoria La Valentina Pecorino – Italy, Abruzzi, Colline Pescaresi IGT
SRP: $18
This has a floral, fresh and spicy appeal, with lemons and crunchy green apples, mixed with basil, white pepper and honeysuckle. The palate is brisk and racy but shows a plush feel as well, with flavors of pineapple, pear, lemon and green apple fruit. Notes of honey, white and yellow flowers, with flinty, mineral appeal. Light and vibrant appeal but doesn’t lack flavor or depth. Interesting, complex Pecorino. (89 points IJB)

2020 Inama Soave Classico Vigneti di Carbonare – Italy, Veneto, Soave Classico
SRP: $30
The nose is fantastic, rich but perfumed, with juicy chunks of pineapple drizzled with lime and kiwi juices, mixed with yellow flowers, rushing mountain stream, some talc and saline, honey and almond skin, too. The palate has precise acidity and a mouthwatering vibe, balanced by honeyed depth and creaminess. The green apple and kiwi fruit is mixed nicely with chalk dust, flinty, crushed rocks and mountain stream (like rock climbing near an alpine waterfall). The nervy/richness contrast is a delightful high-wire, and this wine pulls it off so well. From 50-year-old pergola-trained Garganega vines, this is an exciting Soave. (91 points IJB)

2021 Marco Felluga Russiz Superiore Collio Sauvignon – Italy, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Collio
SRP: $31
Aromas pop with nectarine, white peach and lemons, backed up by honeysuckle, mountain streams, some dandelion and white pepper. The palate shows deep texture and live-wire acidity, and the fruit shows juiciness but a crunchy feel, too (honeydew, lime, green pear). There’s a lot of mineral and limestone infusion in this wine, along with complexities of white and yellow flowers, mint, honeysuckle. Has a crystal clear quality and a lot of depth and complexity. Really nice stuff! 10% fermented in oak, the rest in stainless steel. (92 points IJB)

2021 Vigne Surrau Vermentino di Gallura Branu – Italy, Sardinia, Vermentino di Gallura DOCG
SRP: $20
The nose shows peaches, kiwi, yellow apples, along with floral perfume, tropical flowers, lots of honey and some lemon verbena. The palate is pleasant and creamy, with moderate acidity, along with lemon curd, white peach and cantaloupe – a tropical fruit salad. Notes of honey, yellow flowers, breezy meadow sort of vibes. Fun, floral, creamy and pleasant Sardinian goodness. (88 points IJB)

2021 Sallier de la Tour Syrah Madamrosè – Italy, Sicily, Sicilia
SRP: $21
Ripe watermelon color. The nose boasts a mix of floral-spicy tones, with rose petals, white pepper, sliced green onion and crushed limestone over wild raspberry and red apple peel. The palate is crisp but shows pleasant creaminess, with juicy white peach and raspberry fruit. Vibrant, floral, spicy, with white pepper, sea salt, rose tea and some wild herbs. Love the texture and vibrancy. Made from Monreale-grown Syrah, this is interesting and a nice value. (89 points IJB)

2021 Sallier de la Tour Inzolia – Italy, Sicily, Sicilia
SRP: $16
Medium yellow color. The nose is ripe and peachy with limes and green apples, and racy tones of chalk dust and limestone mixed with hints of hops and sage. The palate shows pleasantly creamy texture and bright acidity, with a fruit salad of yellow pears, white peaches and lime zest. I love the talc, minerals and limestone elements here, and the floral spice of basil and dandelion. A lovely example of this grape, expressive and balanced and shockingly good for the price. From Inzolia vines in Monreale, aged four months on the lees in stainless steel. (90 points IJB)

2020 Sallier de la Tour Nero d’Avola – Italy, Sicily, Sicilia
SRP: $16
Deep ruby color. Spicy, fun and fresh on the nose, with jammy raspberries and strawberries, with rose petals, spicy pepper and paprika, tar and some leather tones. Juicy and ripe on the palate with raspberries and red cherries, with dusty tannins and medium acidity. There’s a lot of really fun secondary flavors here, lie charcoal, barbecue sauce, tar, tobacco, and these underlying mineral and smashed rock essences. Juicy and delicious but sporting complexity as well. This would be a delicious barbecue wine or a way to convert casual wine drinkers into Sicily fans. (89 points IJB)

2020 Sallier de la Tour Syrah – Italy, Sicily, Sicilia
SRP: $16
Lively purple color. Fresh and ripe on the nose with plums, cherries and strawberries, along with clove, vanilla, roasted herbs, scorched earth and spiced tea. On the palate, this sports smooth tannins, lively acidity and it has a vibrant, crushable, crunchy feel with cherries, strawberries and blackberries. The notes of smoky earth, pepper, vanilla and cocoa add delicious complexity. This is a lot of fun, and highly delicious, but shows balance and nuance as well. (88 points IJB)

2019 Sallier de la Tour Syrah La Monaca – Italy, Sicily, Sicilia
SRP: $35
Ripe purple color. The nose exudes deep, dark but vibrant fruit, black cherries and tart blueberries, with complexities of smoky earth, grilled meats, violets, with pepper and sage. The palate is chewy, structured but lively, with a deep and stony mineral presence. Dark currants and plum fruit shows a nice tangy edge with notes of pepper, tar, pepperoni, anise and mocha. I love the spicy, deep, earthy, spicy herbal and leather-bound book vibes. From the highest vineyards on the property, this single vineyard Syrah deserves attention and time in the cellar. A delight. (91 points IJB)

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