2023 has kicked off in style, and the big showcase wine importer tastings have so far received record attendees. Yesterday’s Hallgarten & Novum Wines event showed no fewer than 765 wines, and a good number will find their way into my columns over the next few months. I have three of the finest Italian white wines to kick off this collection. At Jukes HQ, we drink a lot of dry Italian white wines and try to stay under £20 as often as possible. I have two sub-20s and one no-upper-limit white this week, and I can assure you that they are all at the top of their game.
2021 Soave Classico, Monte Fiorentine, Ca’Rugate, Veneto (£15.29, www.allaboutwine.co.uk; £15.98, www.strictlywine.co.uk; £16.95, www.thewhiskyexchange.co.uk).
While there are a handful of inexpensive Soave estates and cantinas that do the job of making competent and refreshing wines (Tesco finest* Soave is £7.50 and is a well-made example), there are only a couple that summon up profound complexity while maintaining exquisite freshness and delicacy on the palate. Pieropan probably receives the bulk of my spending in this select category, but I always buy Monte Fiorentine if it appears on a wine list or an indie merchant’s shelves. This sublime 2021 captures silky-smooth fruit, thrilling tension throughout and a core of volcanic minerality offset by pristine acidity. I am confident it is the finest value Soave in the country. Give Chablis the heave-ho this week and treat yourself to this stunning white wine.
2021 Greco di Tufo, Cutizzi, Feudi di San Gregorio, Campania (£18.05, www.strictlywine.co.uk; £18.15, www.vinvm.co.uk; £19.99, www.shelvedwine.com).
Cutizzi has been my go-to top-end Greco for as long as I can remember, and I am always a little nervous when a new vintage comes along in case it fumbles or, heaven forbid, drops the ball. No such chance in 2021 because this is a truly magnificent creation. With bracing greengage, white peach florals, and a gossamer-smooth apple and pear palate, this is a luxurious wine with undeniable elegance. It has a tell-tale, raspy, volcanic under-belly of acidity that gently scours the tongue making your taste buds stand to attention. This is a world-class creation, and it is stunningly well-priced. Leave elite Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé behind for a couple of weeks and slide your palate into this heavenly wine.
2021 Gewurztraminer, Nussbaumer, Tramin, Alto Adige (£30.30, www.vinissimus.co.uk; £25.77, www.strictlywine.co.uk).
The Tramin people make an impeccable collection of wines, and it is not just the whites that are heroic because even their 2021 Lagrein is worthy of attention! Nussbaumer Gewurz is at the top of the pile, and I am told that it is the most awarded white wine made from this grape variety in Italy. This comes as no surprise because the flavour and texture are knockout. Regular readers will know that I am incredibly fussy about first-class aromatic whites – Viognier, Muscat, Gewurztraminer and the like. Only when wines truly shine, displaying their unique characteristics in perfect order, do I get even remotely excited. 2021 Nussbaumer is the benchmark for this grape in 2023. It is stunningly aromatic, enchantingly restrained, balanced on the palate, and then crisply acidic on the finish. I doubt it will have its crown knocked off this year!