Wine Reviews: Italian Value Reds

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 01-14-2023

If you’re doing a dry January – congratulations! You’re halfway through. Whether you’re imbibing this month or not, the post-holiday season is a nice time to take stock of things, and to stock up on some options for the cellar.

Late last year, I tasted through a half-dozen Italian reds that got me thinking: “Wow, I’d be happy with six apiece of these in my cellar.” From Marche to Puglia, these wines come from well-known, family-owned producers and offer a lot of diversity. They’re all imported by Dalla Terra Winery Direct, which has amassed an impressive portfolio and imports directly from the producers themselves. So, if you’re resolving to save money in 2023, I bet at least a few of these delicious reds would fit the bill perfectly.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted single-blind.

2021 Garofoli Rosso Piceno “Farnio” Italy, Marche, Rosso Piceno
SRP: $13
Bright purple color. Saucy nose with a cool mix of jammy blueberries, juicy raspberries and blackberries, along with some dried rose petals and pepper, and an almost Beaujolais-esque blend of bubblegum and violets – lots of fun. Juicy, dark and ripe on the palate, this has smooth tannins and vibrant acidity, supporting juicy blackberry and blueberry fruit. I like the graphite, mint, smoke and earthy nuances. Chewy but lively, this is a lot of fun. And, after all, fun is a good thing. A blend of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Sangiovese. (88 points IJB)

2021 Masseria Li Veli “Orion” Salento IGT Italy, Puglia, Salento IGT
SRP: $15
Deep ruby color. The aromas pop with red cherries, juicy plums and jammy raspberries, along with spicy, smoky, tar and barbecue sauce elements, which are a lot of fun. Ripe tannins and medium acidity, this wine sports a ripe and juicy appeal with black cherries and raspberry jam. The mix of spice and earth tones offers a lot to enjoy and ponder, including notes of pepperoni, mesquite, mocha and some toasted oak. Fun and fan-friendly, but it shows a lot of complexity, too. (89 points IJB)

2020 Casanova di Neri “IrRosso di Casanova di Neri” Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
SRP: $25
Vibrant purple color. Lovely aromas of bright red currants, jammy raspberries, laced with an enticing mix of spicy tobacco, sweet rose petals, clove, bay leaf and cracked pepper. The palate is ripe and juicy but balanced and nuanced, with dusty tannins and tangy acidity. The fruit shows tangy raspberries and deep currant fruit, and it has a sense of vibrancy and balance. The notes of clay, tilled soil, leather, clove, dried roses and pepper add a lot to enjoy and contemplate. Complex yet accessible, this is a great intro to this house’s wines, and could be a great option for a case buy/house wine of your own if you’re a fan of this style. Sangiovese with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. (91 points IJB)

2019 Aia Vecchia “Lagone”Italy, Tuscany, Toscana IGT
SRP: $17
Deep purple color. Spicy nose showing earth, tobacco and mint, with deep elements of blackberries and currants, some chocolate and coffee tones as well. Full on the palate, a chewy feel balanced by lively acidity. Saucy currant and roasted plum fruit blends well with cocoa, coffee grounds, tobacco, mint. The earthy, spicy and mushroom tones come out with time. Fun, fresh, but shows a solid amount of complexity. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. (89 points IJB)

2018 Tenuta di Capezzana “Villa di Capezzana di Carmignano” Italy, Tuscany, Carmignano
SRP: $32
Vibrant purple color. Lovely nose of currants and black cherries, mixed with mulling spices, leather, violets, spiced black tea, and it’s all warm, deep, inviting and savory. The palate shows nice grip but the tannins have rounded edges, buttressed by medium acidity. Deep currants and black cherry fruit, tossed with fallen leaves, clay, loamy earth and plenty of spice and savory nuance. Nice concentration but opens up well, and I love the complexities of stones, mineral, campfire and grilled meat. This is cold weather and braised meat sort of wine that will age well, too. Love it! A blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. (91 points IJB)

2020 Inama Carménère “Più”  Italy, Veneto, Veneto IGT
SRP: $21
Light purple color. The nose shows lovely smoky, beefy, black pepper-crusted notes, over raspberries, red plums, earth and tar elements. The palate shows suave tannins and medium acidity with a plush, chewy, but vibrant feel – all nicely balanced. The plum and black cherry fruit is ripe and deep, and mixes well with notes of sage, black pepper, smoky earth, even some sauteed mushrooms and anise tones. Delicious and fun, but sports a lot of complexity as well, and this will improve in the cellar for at least five years. I’m thankful this wine exists, and that Inama has kept the interesting and delicious history of Italian Carmenère alive. And the value here is something else. (91 points IJB)

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