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Italian Wine

Italian wine has been inextricably linked with its culture and food ever since the Ancient Greeks first staked their vines in Sicily and the south of the country and named the land Oenotria. It is almost impossible to conceive of a meal in Italy at which its wines do not feature be that Italian fine wines or the more humble, simple table variety. This long country bordered by the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas with its mountainous backbone riven with innumerable valleys and a geology blessed with volcanic and limestone-rich soils is ideally suited to the cultivation of grapes for the production of wine. From Piedmont in the north to Sicily in the south viticulture is a way of life and wine is produced in a wide variety of styles and a range of qualities from the everyday to the highly prized, and priced, fine wines. Italy vies with France as a wine producing country with approximately 20% of the world's total production.

ripened wine grapes on the vine, Italy

Italy has developed a legal structure governing its viticulture and viniculture similar to that which exists in France. At the lower end of the market are the former Vini da Tavola, now renamed Vini d'Italia, as well as wines of specific origin (Indicacion Geografica Tipica a.k.a. IGT). Just as in France the latitude allowed by the regulations governing supposedly lesser wines has resulted in more adventurous producers, and certainly those with an eye on international markets, to plant non-indigenous grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay to make wines of outstanding quality which would appear to be at odds with their lowly status. These Italian wines include the so-called Super Tuscans such as Sassicaia and Tignanello, red wines that have found both critical acclaim and consumer demand leading to premium prices.

Italian D.O.C. wines (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) are defined according to their permitted grape variety, vineyard area, maximum yields and production methods. Examples include Barbera d'Alba from Piedmont, Valpolicella from the Veneto and the sparkling Prosecco from Treviso. A higher quality designation is formed by D.O.C.G. Wines (Denominazione d'Origine Controllata e Garantia) which is a more rigorous classification whose wines are analysed and tasted by government inspectors. Those wines which qualify are sealed with a numbered official seal which guarantees the wine's quality and provenance. Barolo and Barbaresco from Piedmont and Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino, both from Tuscany, are amongst the better known D.O.C.G. wines.

Since 1992 the laws have been tightened up considerably to reduce yields and improve quality, a move which many critics felt had been overdue and which has instilled greater confidence both in the market for Italian wines and also amongst wine producers themselves. I.G.T. Wines (Indicazioni Geografica Tipica) were introduced (similar to the I.G.P. Wines of France) and producers of high quality wines not qualifying for D.O.C. or D.O.C.G. status were encouraged to use this new classification rather than the Vino di Tavola many had formerly been forced to adopt. Although strictly speaking ranked below these other two classifications the consumer market has, in many cases, rewarded these somewhat more creative and single-minded wine producers.

The Cardinal's Cellar offers a small range of extremely high quality Italian wines which will grace any dinner table.

  1. Tenuta San Guido, Guidalberto, 2013

    Tenuta San Guido, Guidalberto, 2013

    This latest release of Guidalberto is amongst the best ever. Drinking now until 2030.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
    Country Italy

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  2. Tenuta San Guido, Guidalberto, 2013, Magnum

    Tenuta San Guido, Guidalberto, 2013, Magnum

    This latest release of Guidalberto is amongst the best ever. Drinking now until 2030.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
    Country Italy

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  3. Fattoria di Piazzano, Chianti Riserva Rio Camerata, Tuscany, 2006

    Fattoria di Piazzano, Chianti Riserva Rio Camerata, Tuscany, 2006

    Subtle hints of pipe tobacco, plums, leather, licorice and spices flow effortlessly from this mid-weight Chianti Riserva Rio Camerata from Fattoria di Piazzano.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Sangiovese
    Country Italy

    Out of stock

  4. Tenuta San Guido, Guidalberto, 2010

    Tenuta San Guido, Guidalberto, 2010

    Dark red cherries, flowers, licorice and a hint of tobacco are layered into the firm, structured finish. In 2010 the blend is 60% Cabernet Sauvignon and 40% Merlot. The 2010 Guidalberto comes across as cool and inward in this vintage. This is a wine that is now ready to drink but may benefit from a few years cellaring.

    Colour Red Wine
    Grape Variety Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot
    Country Italy

    Out of stock

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