Five classic Italian wines from Marks and Spencer
Italy challenges France for quality, diversity and volume of wines produced in any year; a long, thin, mountainous country with an extensive coastline, there is very little of its surface that is not suited to growing vines.
What Italy, lacks, however, is a clear, rigorous classification system; Italians, it seems, are as idiosyncratic and undisciplined in their wine labelling as they are in most other walks of life.
These five wines from M&S are all Italian classics; they are in roughly ascending order of quality. The best is the Barolo, the best value the Valpolicella.
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo 2013 (£7.99) lots of pure black and red cherry and blueberry fruit with a shake of black pepper. Vibrant and juicy; good entry-level example.
Match with a juicy steak, spicy sausages or salami.
Dolcetto d'Asti, 2013 (£7.00) vibrant purple; intense, juicy blueberry and cherry fruit with some savoury roasted spices. Fresh, poised, clean and focused.
A good food wine, match with pasta and meaty sauces.
Chianti Classico Riserva Castello della Paneretta 2011 (£14.00) translucent ruby, cherry fruit and pepperiness; sweet, ripe, cooked red fruits, red and black cherries, dried herbs and a lick of oak; long and savoury with fine tannins.
With 14.5% alcohol, it is a touch alcoholic on the finish.
Match with hearty casseroles or roast red meat, such as lamb with rosemary and garlic.
Valpolicella Ripasso, 2012 (£9.50) translucent ruby garnet, earthy, plummy, eucalyptus nose; sweet, ripe, baked plum, cassis and morello cherry with some spice, liquorice and port-like herbaceous notes from partially-dried grapes.
Fresh, long and savoury; harmonious, balanced finish.
Match with duck breast in cherry sauce.
Barolo Peironte 2009 (£18) pale translucent ruby with some brick red hints; plum, tobacco, cool mint, sweet vanilla and savoury spice with very fine, persistent tannins.
Dense, concentrated, long and harmonious. Very Good.
Match with slow-roasted red meats or a beef ragu.
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