Wine Reviews: Italy

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 03-20-2022

Spring has sprung, and I hope you all have some delicious wines and food in your future with friends and family. This week, I’m focusing on a handful of wines from Italy. From Piedmont in the north to Campania in the south, there are some serious values here.

Barbera d’Asti has been a reliable fount of delicious, inexpensive fun for me over the years. I love this grape, and the depth of expression that it is capable of in this DOCG is unique. These wines have a well-known reputation for being fresh and fun, with low tannin, juicy fruit, and an accessible appeal, with value-driven prices. And that is certainly true, but I’m also continually impressed with the depth and personality to be found in these wines. I recently received a mix of Barbera wines that reminded me why I still love them — some producers I know, and some I don’t.

I also have two classic wines from Campania from a new-to-me producer. Petilia, a brother/sister-run estate in Irpina, tends about 20 hectares of classic regional grapes. I love Fiano’s richness and how the volcanic soils in this wine and region impart that deep, vibrant essence. Their Aglianico is just what you’d hope for, deep, spicy, complex, and great with grilled foods and warm weather.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2018 Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Le Orme” Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Barbera d’Asti Superiore
$16
Vibrant ruby color. Aromas of raspberries, cherries and plums with a delightful spicy, floral, peppery combo – really fresh and fun. On the palate, this shows zippy acidity and dusty tannins, very nicely balanced and alive with tangy raspberry and summer’s juiciest red plum fruit. Spicy tones of black tea, rose petals, pepper, with a perfumed and lifted feel. Food-friendly and fresh but some solid complexity too, and a few years could entice out even more savory elements. This is a producer I find very reliable, and this one is lovely. (89 points)

2016 Malgrà Barbera d’Asti Superiore Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Barbera d’Asti Superiore
$14
Deep ruby/light purple color. The nose pops with woodsy, floral elements, tar, violets, clove, over top of saucy cherries and red currants. Juicy and smooth on the palate with moderate tannins, fresh acidity, and tangy plum and cranberry fruit. Complex notes of pepperoni, paprika, pepper, along with these notes of clay pot, ginger, clove. Fresh but complex and structured with a lot of appeal to a wide crowd. (88 points IJB)

2019 Rovero Barbera d’Asti Superiore “Gustin Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Barbera d’Asti Superiore
$23
Bright purple color. Crisp and fresh aromatics with red plums and wild raspberries, along with rose petals and white pepper, tilled soil. The palate shows chewy tannins and fresh acidity, supporting red plum and raspberry jam fruit. Notes of dried violets, clay, potting soil and tobacco add complexity. Straightforward and fun but high quality. (89 points IJB)

2018 Enzo Bartoli Barbera d’Asti Superiore Italy, Piedmont, Asti, Barbera d’Asti Superiore
$18
Light purple color. The aromas boasts tart red currants and Thanksgiving cranberry relish, with violets, black tea, some mint, a really cool combo. Delightful balance on the palate, with zesty acidity and a plush but balanced feel. Tart blueberry and cranberry relish fruit, topped in fascinating notes of leather, rose petals, paprika. Lively and crisp but shows a lot of depth and really fun flavors. A delightful Barbera d’Asti that is great now but will also improve over the next few years. (90 points IJB)

2020 Petilia Fiano di Avellino Italy, Campania, Fiano di Avellino DOCG
$17
Rich yellow color. Gorgeous floral aromas, daisies and honeysuckle, overlaying sweet yellow apples, papaya, melon, and a squirt of lime. Nice creaminess on the palate, a fun chalky texture, balanced by vibrant acidity. Papaya, lemon and yellow pear fruit blends well with these tones of hay, chalk dust, honey and white tea. Deep and tropical but stays vibrant, and finishes with a crisp but creamy mouthfeel. Highly delicious and pleasurable Fiano. (90 points IJB)

2017 Petilia Irpinia Le Sepaie – Italy, Campania, Irpinia
$17
Vibrant purple color. Loving the smoky, graphite, charcoal and soy aromas that accent the tangy plums and dark currants. The palate shows a slick blend of tart acid and solid, grippy tannins with a compote of currants and plums. There’s so much spicy personality to this wine, in the form of grilled herbs, barbecue sauce and pepper, along with a stony, mineral presence underneath. Interesting, lively, dark and spicy stuff that would be so great with a big assortment of grilled foods. Well done stuff. (89 points IJB)

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