If you cast your mind back all the way to February of this year, you may remember that supermarket group Lidl launched a limited release of new French wines in Ireland (here are my posts on the Reds and Whites).
Now they’re going to do the same with a batch of Italian wines, set for release on Monday 13th June, and available while stocks last. The wines in this batch don’t reach quite as high as the more expensive French ones did, but they are still worth seeking out.
Gavi di Gavi DOCG 2014 (12.5%, €9.99)
Gavi is the town in Piedmont (NW Italy) where this wine is made from the Cortese grape (which I always think sounds like a family from The Godfather) – and the wine is sometimes usefully called Cortese di Gavi, in case you forget. Wines from the production area closest to the town are called Gavi di Gavi as we have here.
By the way, if that’s all too confusing, feel free to call it “Gavin”. The wine won’t mind either way.
The wine is clean and unoaked, with pear and stone fruit flavours. It has some texture too, so it could stand up against seafood and lighter chicken dishes. Make sure you give it a chance to warm a little if it’s been in the fridge for a while.
Soave Classico DOC 2015 (12.0%, €9.99)
I suspect I’m not the only person who has been put off “Soave” by the cheap swill on the cheapest supermarket or convenience store shelves – but when it’s done right, it can be a very pleasant drink. Trademark Italian acidity is still there but with soft citrus, pear and apple fruit. The perfect drink for sitting in the back garden – especially if someone else is doing the gardening!
Barbera d’Asti DOCG 2015 (12.5%, €7.99)
Barbera is the grape here and Asti is the province in north-west Italy where it’s made – together with Alexandria next door. As part of Piedmont (or Piemonte to the locals) it tends to fall into the shadow of Nebbiolo, especially Barolo and Barbareseco, the “King and Queen” of the area. Barbera can make top class wines, but even the more economical end of the market gives some very drinkable examples such as this. It’s full of soft, juicy red and black fruit, with a slight smokiness. Remarkable for the price.
Teroldego Rotaliano DOP Superiore Riserva 2012 (12.5%, €8.99)
Teroldego is the grape in this wine. Haven’t heard of it? don’t worry, neither had I! It’s from the Trentino area of northern Italy, Superiore meaning it’s 12.0% minimum and Riserva meaning it has spent at least 24 months maturing before release.
This wine has lots of character – it’s zippier than a gobshite from Rainbow! Super fresh acidity makes it mouthwateringly tasty and really food friendly.
Nero d’Avola Terre Siciliane IGP (13.0%, €13.99 – 1.5L)
At first glance this might appear a bit more expensive than the other wines – but it’s a double sized bottle! Magnums are great fun at parties, so buy a few for a BBQ and you’re sorted! Nero d’Avola is a popular grape in Sicily, giving spice, dark berries and chocolate. It’s very drinkable, just make sure you don’t get carried away on a school night!
Larger format bottles are nearly all named after Biblical figures such as Methuselah and Salmanazar – the Magnum is the exception as it was named after a Private Investigator*
Salice Salentino DOC Riserva 2013 (13.5%, €9.99)
Now we’re in the heel of Italy’s boot, in Puglia. Salice Salentino is the staple of Italian restaurants everywhere – for good reason! It’s made from the Negroamaro grape which translates as “black and bitter”, but if there is any bitterness it is pleasant. What it does have is spicy black fruit, and it’s so more-ish! A barbecue wine that you will want to carry on drinking after the food has all disappeared.
Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2011 (13.5%, €9.99)
Up to now, all the wines I’ve recommended have been in the easy drinking style. This is a bit different – not for the uninitiated, unless you are prepared to try something new. The heart of Tuscan wine is Chianti, particularly the original central area which is now Chianti Classico.
This is a Riserva – aged in barrel for 24 month then 3 further months in bottle. It has the full on Chianti experience – tobacco, liquorice, cherry and a touch of vanilla. This should keep for another five years at least, and will soften and mellow over that time. Who am I kidding? This is going to be drunk within a week!
*this may not be 100% factually accurate.