Is there a better bargain out there in the high street than this Italian stallion of a wine ? especially when on discount, currently £6.50 at Tesco and if you add in the regular 25% off 6 bottles promotion this is astonishing value.
The bottle in question is the CA’ Marrone Rosso from Puglia region of southern Italy made in the Appassimento method which is the Italian term for drying harvested grapes, traditionally on bamboo racks or straw mats, for a few weeks up to several months to concentrate the sugars and flavours.
So what’s it like ? Firstly, this is a great looking if slightly heavy bottle. When poured this is a medium ruby colour with strong aromas of dark fruits predominantly cherry, plum and blackcurrant, there is also a whiff of dried herbs and some vanilla.
On first sip you can tell this is a powerhouse, initially intense sweet and sour dark fruits hit you before the pronounced tannins kick in. Secondary flavours of tobacco, leather and dried herbs arrive filling your mouth with a richness and depth of flavour you get with the Appassimento method.
This is a proper grown up wine and not for the fainthearted but watch out for the 14.5% abv, although it doesn’t feel like it at first but be warned it does creep up on you and be sure to hang on to something or someone before attempting to stand after a glass or two.
As you may have gathered, I liked this a lot, ok, maybe not for everyone but if you find it for £6.50 it’s worth a go, top stuff !
With the weather this week taking a turn for the better many of us raid the fridge for a nicely chilled bottle of white.
This week I opened two that were very different, one very familiar and the other not so. The first was a French Chardonnay from Morrisons reduced from £10 to £7 including a very fancy wooden box, the other from Sainsbury’s at £8 an unfamiliar Italian grape called Greco.
Starting with the Chardonnay from the Burgundy region of France which at £7 (reduced at time of buying) seemed like a bit of a bargain as most Burgundy comes with a hefty price tag. In the glass it was a darkish golden colour with aromas of lemon, pear melon and apricots. On first sip it seemed maybe a touch too sweet but had a nice rich texture with the apricots and pears to the fore and a nice creamy finish. Sampled this over a couple of days and I must say it was definitely better on day two.
Next the Greco which is a grape from the Campania region of southern Italy and if you haven’t tried it before and you like Sauvignon Blanc this may well be for you. From Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference range it was a bright light straw colour, fairly muted aromas but there was some crisp red apples and lemon zest. Taste-wise, bright mouth-watering acidity and very refreshing with a touch of pear and a slight nutty almond aftertaste.
Both were nice and reasonably priced with a slight preference for the classy and bright tasting Greco Di Tufo.
Back to the Co Op again and another offering from their excellent range of wines, a Fiano 2014 from southern Italy.
As regular readers know I am a big fan of Co Op and their wines and have been really impressed by most of their ‘Truly Irresistible’ range and this is no exception. I was initially alerted to this wine by a recommendation by wine journalist Brian Elliot from the website MidWeek Wines, so when popping into my local store for a loaf of bread and some milk a bottle kind of found its way into my basket.
Pretty good-looking label on what turned out to be a pretty decent wine with a lovely deep golden colour and although fairly muted their were aromas of Peach, honey, nectarines and cloves.
First mouthful revealed an oily texture, juicy nectarines and ripe peaches along with an underlying and very nice smokey honey flavour, there was also a nice background nuttiness to the wine which was very appealing.
For me this is one of the better Fiano’s I’ve tasted recently especially around this price mark (around £7). So if you have never tasted Fiano get yourself down to your local Co Op and try this, you may well be surprised, Excellent
Sometimes referred to as the Gina Lollobrigida, this unusual shaped bottle of Verdicchio caught my eye whilst browsing the supermarket shelves and it quickly found its way into my basket.
Verdicchio is an Italian wine from the central eastern Marches region and gets its name from the word ‘Verde’ meaning green relating to the yellowish-green like colour of the grapes giving the wine a slight green like hue.
This particular Classico dei Castelli di Jesi 2015 I picked up at Sainburys, it’s part of their ‘Taste the Difference’ range for £6 which in my opinion is very good value for what turned out to be a very nice wine.
It’s different and perhaps not to everyone’s taste and certainly a food wine. It had mixed opinions around the dinner table where I loved it but my wife and daughter thought it was a little weighty for their palates.
In the glass it showed a straw like yellow with a tinge of green, aromas of peaches (think peach schnapps) jumped out along with grapefruit. Taste wise, yes it did have a weighty texture which was full of peaches with a creaminess, herby (not the car) and a finish of almonds giving it an almost bitter finish which was not unpleasant.
For £6 I thought it was worth every penny and paired brilliantly with our pasta dinner.
Looking like a bottle found under a park bench this unusually packaged wine is certainly quirky and definitely stands out on the supermarket shelf but is it any good?
As some of my regular readers may know I belong to a small wine circle called Cuvée Reserve where once a month one of our members select a wine of the month which is easily accessible and under £10 for us all to review. This particular bottle is our March selection and is currently priced at £5.50 from Asda.
Farmers of wine is from the Puglia Region of Italy, a blend of Negroamaro, Zinfandel, locally known as Primitivo, Merlot and Nero d’Avola.
Ok, going back to my first question, is it any good?, for me for the price it’s a resounding yes!
This comes with a cork and has a very intense dark garnet like colour when poured. The nose is fairly muted although there is a hint of ripe dark plums and cherries. The first mouthful has those plums and cherries bursting with juiciness followed by a little dark chocolate. Slightly on the jammy side but not over the top, subtle tannins and a hit of pepper comes through on the finish. Left in the glass for a while everything softens ending up with a very drinkable Italian for not a lot of money.
I was a little bit sceptical when I saw the gimmicky bottle but rest assured there is nothing gimmicky about the wine, this is a very quaffable mid week drink with Pizza 🍕 or pasta 🍝 I enjoyed it and would probably buy again.
I first came across this wine at a recent Majestic Summer tasting event and it was for me, one of the stars of the night. It was the wine I kept going back to for a top up and I must say the generous and amiable staff were more than happy to oblige. I did end up buying a few bottles along with one or two others I enjoyed over the course of the evening.
So whats it like, well, it’s made in the North west Italian region of Langhe within Piemonte which is famous for Nebbiolo and it is a blend of Barbera 70% and Nebbiolo 30%.
Fairly deep garnet colour with a very slight brownish tinge but still impressively dark, looking very inviting but it’s when you get your nose in the glass this is where the wine comes alive bright cherries and blackberries with a more intense backbone of dried herbs, leather, tar and liquorice all very heady.
Medium to full-bodied – first taste this was very tannic although it still had a bright fruity acidity which made the wine taste fresh. Dark ripe fruits along with bitter liquorice, herbs and an edge of aniseed were all lurking in the glass. There was also a meaty savoury thing going on as well which was appealing. Left in the glass for a while the chalky tannins did soften a bit leaving a sweeter taste but still retaining that bright acidity.
As a stand alone wine I would quite happily drink it on its own but its with food that this really shone. On the tasting night it met with mixed opinions although no one disliked it, some weren’t sure initially but it grew on them. I think this needs time to breathe to really get the best out of it but I liked it a lot.
My wife who is not a big red wine drinker enjoyed it with food and didn’t pull that face when she instantly dislikes a powerful red, so all round big thumbs up.
I was recently sent another bottle to review by Tesco as part of a Tesco taste panel, this is a 10 man/woman panel who are selected to review the same wine and leave comments on their wine by the case website.
The wine in question is a Sangiovese Vino Lascito 2013.
Firstly I must say that whenever I open a bottle of Italian wine I can’t help imagining a table full of wise guys sitting in a restaurant, spaghetti stained napkins tucked into their shirt collars eating pasta made with mama’s special sauce.
Back to the wine, the bottle shape was a bit strange and I’m not a big fan of it, being a bit short and stumpy it just looks a little awkward and doesn’t fit it the wine rack very well, actually reminded me of a bottle of port.
When poured although dark purple-ish in colour it still was a little translucent, with aromas of sour cherries, plums, raspberries and a slight whiff of herbs.
First sip prior to food, a little on the thin side, the tartness, slightly bitter taste (although I expected some ) was a little too noticeable, although it did lead to a mouth watering explosion of sour cherries, raspberries and a spicy finish. Tannins were soft though and the fruit did stand out but where this wine sort of impressed was after a mouthful of food (Spaghetti Bolognese in this case), with the tartness less intrusive and the spice and herbs making a subtle entrance.
I must admit I liked this wine much better with food as most Italian wines it just seems to complement food brilliantly, easy drinking , nothing complicated, a pleasant enough drink especially with a plate of pasta but nothing to get me too excited.
My fellow taste panelists seem to disagree with me looking at their reviews but hey ho everyone to their own it’s just wasn’t for me.
Like old clapped out Fiat of thirty years ago this is one Italian I’m afraid, that just doesn’t work properly. The label on the bottle claims it’s a ‘gorgeous red bursting with mouth filling fruitiness’, well for me, not quite, especially after the initial taste in which I would more accurately describe it as ‘ Simple everyday red, bursting with tart really sour fruit and mouth puckering tannins’.
Ok, it’s not that bad, not a wine I could drink on its own though, it really does need food to enjoy this and with a plate of pasta, tomato sauce and pork meatballs it kind of worked, especially after chilling the bottle for around half an hour in the fridge.
In the glass it looked pretty good, surprisingly dark in colour, with quite a whiff of dark cherries and liquorice.
The first initial sip although fresh tasting was of very sour red fruits, noticeable tannins and caused me to pull a slightly screwed up face. It was bursting with sour cherries and blueberries and it’s and in some respects it’s meant to have that sharp dry taste but it was a little bit too acidic and tart for me.
But wait, after a mouthful of meatballs and pasta the wine took on a new dimension and it complemented the food very nicely, the sharp acidity worked brilliantly with the tomato sauce and I ended up sort of enjoying it.
At £6.99 pretty much what it’s worth, not brilliant but not that bad either, a wine to drink with food to really get the best out of it.
Does Italian food need Italian wine? not always but it somehow just seems right, think of those Mafia wise guys sitting in a restaurant napkins tuck in to their shirts sucking up Spaghetti with mamas special sauce and of course drinking red local wine. Or, maybe just sitting around the dinner table in a three bedroom semi eating pasta with the family, Italian red wine is a must.
After searching the wine rack I found a wine from Umbria Italy, the il Cacciatore del tartufo 2008 (the truffle hunter) a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon & Canaiolo.
So what was it like ? well, very dark in colour with quite pronounced heady aromas of ripe dark cherries, burnt rubber, liqourice and rich spices.
First taste fairly much imitated the smell, oaky, tannic, with flavours of liquorice, mocha and rich dark fruit which all hit you at once but with a slightly tart finish.
Did I like it? very much so, especially with food but I would quite happily drink it on its own. Left in the glass the tartness subsides a little making this a very enjoyable wine.
It’s a 13% ABV wine that tastes like a 14% but very easy to drink.
This was kindly given as a present and very nice is was too.
As I mentioned in my previous post,wander around any supermarket these days and you are bombarded with meal deals, they are everywhere usually around £10 mostly including a main course pudding and a bottle of wine. The meals themselves look ok but I’ve been interested in what wines they have been offering to accompany the quick and easy cook foods.
Having recently sampled a meal deal wine without the meal, I know silly, for another £3 or so I could have had the food as well, so what do I do ?, I end up buying another bottle without the accompanying food. The wine in question was a Tesco Finest Negroamaro, one of the reasons for trying these MD wines is the fact that most of the time it’s not a regular wine you find in the wine aisle amongst the others in the Tesco Finest range and is only offered as part of the deal and I assume will disappear when the offers change or finish. This one however is, anyway for whatever reason I bought the wine, the question I wanted answering was is it any good?, well the answer in this case was – yes.
Negroamaro is a dark skinned grape grown almost exclusively in the Puglia region in SE Italy. I decided to open this a couple of hours before eating but couldn’t resist the obligatory sneaky sip just after unscrewing the cap. Initially it was a little rustic and earthy, smelt of ripe blackcurrants, vanilla, chocolate, herbs and spice, I actually quite liked it and ended up drinking a glass before the evening meal.
Around 2 hours later and with the food it changed quite a bit but equally as enjoyable, gone was that earthiness replaced by a mixture of ripe blackcurrants, plums, much smoother and still with a hint of chocolate. This was now much easier to drink as a stand alone but I must say I really liked the initial taste and if I had it again I would eat with a glass freshly poured but that’s just me.
The previous review for the ‘Toro Vinas Del Rey’ meal deal wine was for another Tesco Finest and pretty decent, this Negroamaro was no different. Next time though and for a few pounds more I must see through my wine fixation and buy the food with it, still don’t know why I didn’t.
In a dilemma, not quite sure what to drink with your food, usually my golden rule is reach for a bottle of Italian red, this time it was a Chianti Riserva 2010 from the Tesco Finest range. Sometimes though, golden rules don’t always work, not entirely anyway.
Nothing wrong with this wine, there again not anything to shout about either, It’s an ok drinkable Chianti (although it does need to be drunk with food) produced by the normally reliable Picinni family.
Looked ok when poured, nice ruby colour but it’s when you get your nose in the glass where the first signs of doubt creep in, fairly muted cherries, raspberries but then followed by something slightly metallic. Taste wise, the label claims it to be ‘smooth, elegant and Velvety. Soft tannins and a long finish’ straight from the bottle my description would be ‘full of sour red cherries, liquorice, a little rustic and slightly on the thin side’ . That said, it did improve in the glass after a short time with the tartness softening a little and overall it did go well with the Tomato based Pasta meal.
It was easy drinking but needed food, bought this bottle while on offer and at the price I paid I was satisfied but not overally impressed.
I’ve heard it said many times that if you’re in a restaurant and you don’t know which wine to choose, go for an Italian. (wine that is, not the person !) it’s usually the safe choice. Italian wine particularly reds are generally very food friendly with their high acidity and bright juicy fruit flavours.
Barbera is the most widely planted grape in Piedmont and is the wine that you find most Italian people from the region filling their glasses up with but sadly for me, this ’ il Bello 2011’ didn’t all together hit the spot.
Firstly, let me say this is not a bad wine but it just didn’t get me excited, it paired well enough with the Beef Lasagne dinner and at a price of around £6 pretty much what I expected.
I chilled this for around 20 minutes , in the glass it was a bright crimson colour with aromas of plums, cherries and a little nutmeg. On first sip the explosion of tart juicy fruit was the overwhelming and slightly harsh , so I decided to leave it in the glass for a while before trying again. After 40 minutes or so sitting in the glass and the dinner on the table I took another sip and fortunately it had mellowed slightly into a softer less offensive taste. It still was pretty sour but with the rich food it was much more to my liking. Juicy bright cherries pretty much dominated but there was a little hint of sweetish spice in the background.
Not sure I would enjoy this as a stand alone drink, it definitely needed a plate full of rich creamy meaty pasta to really enjoy it and in this case it did the job. A little drop left in the bottle, will I finish it?, maybe not, never mind on to the next bottle !