Wednesday Wines – Episode 210 – A Dozen Italian Beauties from Lea & Sandeman

L&S Italian Tasting

www.leaandsandeman.co.uk

I wrote a piece in MoneyWeek on the 19th of April (which you can read on this website) highlighting a Lea & Sandeman classic, 2020 Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso Azienda Agricola Visintini.  A couple more Italians caught my eye, so I thought it best to list them here.  I urge you to assemble a mixed dozen because I am confident this will show you that far from sitting on their acknowledged Italian specialist laurels, the range has been augmented of late with some genuinely fascinating additions. They are listed in the order that L&S showed them.

WHITES

2022 Zuani, Vigne Collio Bianco, Friuli Venezia Giulia £24.95, reduced to £22.50 each by the case. 

Stunningly classy, I have followed this wine since the first time L&S listed this wine back in 2010. I wrote up the 2009 vintage in my MoneyWeek column, and I have to say that this wine has maintained its sky-high standard every year.  This is a thrillingly complex white with infinite fractals of discreet fruit and gentle spices made from a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio and Friulano.

2021 Soave Classico Battistelle, Veneto £21.50, reduced to £18.95 each by the case.  

This is another firm favourite, and it is open, engaging and delicious. The value for money here is simply stunning, given it delivers the same grace and impact as more famous estates like Pierpoan.

2022 Verdicchio Classico Superiore, Andrea Felici, Le Marche £20.95, reduced to £18.75 each by the case.  

This is another spot-on creation, and it nails the accuracy of an elite Verdicchio without breaking the bank. Like the Soave above, this is a benchmark summer wine with stunning acidity and freshness. If you wanted to push the boat out, then 2019 Verdicchio Vigna Il Cantico della Figura Riserva (£40.95, reduced to £36.95) blew me away. It has the gravitas of a top Chablis, giving starry estates like Villa Bucci a serious run for their money!

2022 Kratos, Fiano, Luigi Maffini, Campania £25.95, reduced to £23.50 each by the case.  

Gosh, I have followed this estate for a good couple of decades (long before L&S wrangled UK distribution rights) and I still think the Fianos here are spectacular. Fleshy, exotic, then severely refreshing and mineral-drenched, these are elite wines and this estate level, and the 2022 Pietraincatenata Fiano (£38.50 to £3.4.50) are both exquisite. This year, for the first time, I fell for 2020 Cenito (£41.95 to £37.95), an Aglianico with serious silkiness and allure. It is rare to see this red grape looking so downright civilised.

2022 Suavis, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Mormoraia, Tuscany £16.95, reduced to £15.50 each by the case.  

This is another beautiful white, and it far outperforms its price point with its lip-smacking balance and tinglingly fresh citrus and green apple tones. I have never been a massive fan of Vernaccia, but I could happily drink this all day long at a summer party!

ROSÉ

2023 TM Rosato, Tenuta Monteti, Tuscany £16.95, reduced to £15.50 each by the case. 

Grippy, challenging, raw and refreshing, this is not a Sangiovese rosé but a Merlot / Cabernet Franc / Mourvèdre creation, and it turns the rosé market on its head with its cépage and also its pink grapefruit flavours. In a word – ravishing.

REDS

2021 Rosso di Montalcino, Collemattoni, Tuscany£22.50, reduced to £19.95 each by the case.

While the entire Collemattoni range is impressive, the standout wine, given this bottle dips under twenty quid by the case, is this wonderful Rosso. Bright, toothsome, wickedly accurate and teasingly refreshing, this is a gorgeous slice of the Tuscan countryside in the glass!

2021 Bolgheri Rosso, Le Macchiole, Tuscany £27.95, reduced to £25.25 each by the case.  

This is one of the finest vintages of this incredible wine. £25 for an awesome Super-Tuscan! While I would usually ask you to step up the ladder to Paleo Rosso, Scrio, and Messorio (dropping nearly four hundred quid for these three bottles alone), I can’t because this incredible wine has so much going for it that I cannot, hand on heart, go any further. This is one of the best reds in the entire L&S portfolio, and you must do anything to taste it.

2018 Tassinaia, Castello del Terriccio, Tuscany £30.50, reduced to £26.95 each by the case. 

This is another unmissable red wine. Seductive, layered, exotic, and sumptuous, this expressive wine will knock you for six. Once again, I have bought it and loved it for over two decades! There is a lot of polish here, and with five years under its belt already, this wine is at its peak!

2021 Faro Rosso, Le Casematte, Sicily £27.95, reduced to £24.95 each by the case. 

I wanted to focus on the delicious 2021 Peloro Rosso (£20.95 to £18.95), as it shone at the tasting, but I have noticed on the L&S website that it has moved on to the 2022 vintage, and I have not tasted this wine. So, instead, the top wine from this superb Sicilian property is my pick. Even though it is a richer red than Peloro, it is amazingly well-balanced. It does not get more Sicilian than this blend – Nero d’Avola, Nerello Cappuccio, Nocera and Nerello Mascalese. While these grapes often leave me a little cold, Faro Rosso is a brilliant wine which wears its heart on its sleeve.

2018 Barolo, Vigneto Albarella, Andrea Oberto, Piedmont £50.95, reduced to £45.95 each by the case. 

This is a keenly balanced wine with enchanting floral purity on the nose and a glisteningly seductive mid-palate. It is a lighter, more expressive Nebbiolo than many, yet it casts a mesmerising spell on one’s senses.

2021 Langhe Nebbiolo, Sottimano, Piedmont £28.50, reduced to £25.50 each by the case.

Once again, I am a big fan of this estate, and this ‘entry-level’ Neb ticks all of the boxes. Stylish, balanced, and teasingly tannic, it is a perfect candidate for awesome pasta dishes. If you want to trade up to a Barbaresco proper, then look no further than the 2019 Barbaresco Cottá (£72.50 to £64.95), which looked impressively regal and, given a couple more years, will be an absolute thriller.

FIN