A rambling viticultural backwater, the Abruzzo is sparsely populated, extremely beautiful, and home to just two varieties: Trebbiano and Montepulciano. The former rarely distinguishes itself but Montepulciano, on the other hand, is capable of true greatness.
The problem here, and throughout the South, is that the culture of co-operative winemaking and staggering yields rob the wines of any concentration.
Things are changing, however, and Elena Nicodemi is firmly committed to improving the standard.
Flat as a billiard table and sun-scorched throughout the long summer, Puglia is as close as Italy gets to Californias Central Valley or to Australias Riverina. If youre a grape grower, the living is easy. Rain falls obediently during the winter months, there is an abundance of ancient, unirrigated vineyards, and land values are a tenth of what they are in the industrial north. Perhaps because its just so easy to grow grapes here the quality remains resolutely low.
Theres no point going to Puglia to buy international grapes that other regions can do better. And believe me, driving round somewhere as flat and as hot as Puglia makes you super-fussy: you quickly lose patience with the mediocre and the high-yielding. In the Valle dItria (its where you find the trulli) its marginally less flat and its where the few native Pugliese whites - Verdeca, Bianco dAllesano and Minutolo – seem to thrive. And I Pàstini does them particularly well.
Redolent of both wealth and history and sporting a blissful mélange of Palladian, Mediaeval and Renaissance influences, the Veneto manages to combine modern industrial sprawl with architectural chic.
The Veneto has made the most of its viticultural heritage and was the first Italian region to explore the emerging markets of the Far East. It now produces more wine - and more DOC wine - than any other region. Not all of it is of merit, however, and many question how a narrow band of vineyards that run east-west along the foothills of the Dolomites manages to produce such colossal volumes.
Terroir nevertheless continues to shape the wines from small, quality producers that we represent. Soave and Valpolicella originate from contiguous vineyards but come from soils that could not be more different. New regions such as the Colli Berici are making a name for themselves with international varieties and is a sure sign of this volcanic regions potential. Giovanna Tantini certainly understands the glacial moraines on which her Bardolino vineyards are planted and its no wonder that her wines are the DOCs most lauded. Marinella Camerani has not let the string of awards shes won go to her head - her Valpolicella is as poised as ever. Far to the east, Carlo Zucchettos Prosecco is a dry and complex version of Italys favourite bubbly.
Product category: Quality sparkling wine/Sekt of other origin
Exton Park Vineyard is an award-winning English Sparkling Wine producer, located just outside Winchester in Hampshire's South Downs. With a 55 acre single-vineyard planted on Hampshire's pure chalk, our philosophy is to focus on terroir expression and consistency of style
Winetraders is an importer and distributor specialising in high-quality Italian estate wines. Established in 1997 and based in Oxfordshire we sell both in the UK and in other countries including Canada, Scandinavia, and Australia. In our opinion Italy is currently the most interesting wine producer in the world. Her unique combination of grape varieties and terroir linked to the native creativity of the Italian soul provides today's wine drinker with a fascinating alternative to the inundation of technically correct but deathly dull branded wines from the irrigated vineyards of the New World. It would be impossible for the country that brought you Ferrari and Ducati, Alessi and Gucci not to have, somewhere within its borders, a winemaker who shared a similar passion for excellence. Of course there are but the Italians, no fools, prefer to drink these wines themselves. For decades the appalling examples of Soave and Chianti that have besmirched the wine list of every pizzeria from Shanghai to San Francisco have spoken much more eloquently about the economic migrants who chose to leave the world's most beautiful country than about those who stayed behind.
The estates which we have chosen are based on hundreds of visits to every corner of this fascinating peninsula over the course of the past two decades. Each producer creates wines which reflect his or her unique terroir within the context of the 2,500 years of winemaking heritage. The profusion of native grape varieties and denominations that strikes terror into the heart of every wine student and sends every supermarket shopper scuttling to the Australian section must not be seen as hurdle which Italy must overcome. It is an opportunity that must be seized. We live in a world where information is prized over understanding; people crave facts rather than knowledge. The UK consumer is in desperate need of education and not only about wine but also about food. The meteoric rise in wine consumption in the past ten years has not been built on the back of a more savvy wine drinker as the supermarkets would lead us to believe. Yesterday's Liebfraumilch devotee is today's Chardonnay girl and the shops are as bereft of real choice as they ever were; brands drive footfall and the supermarkets list the category leaders. We want to change that.