APRIL 2019


As always in these diaries, I only write about wines that I find exceptional: wines that offer good value for money or wines that give profound pleasure (both sensually and intellectually).  

FATTORIA ZERBINA ( www.zerbina.com)

1997 Pietramora (100% Sangiovese) Fresh, pure, ever-evolving fruit (dark cherries, slightly dried cherries, a broad plummy-ness). Fruit so firmly mixed that red berry and cherry fruits merge into one flavor. Silky sensations from the start though to the long finish.

2007 Pietramora (100% Sangiovese) Youthful. On the palate it is what Italians would describe as croccante – this is a cross between crisp and chewy.  “It took a while for this wine to open”, says Cristina Geminani, winemaker and owner of the estate. It can easily go on giving juicy pleasure for another 10 years.

Zerbina House Style:  Freshness, vibrancy and purity of fragrances and flavor. Exceptionally well-made and long-lived wines.

I first wrote about Cristina and her winery for Decanter way back in 1990. But I knew her wines from my time working for the Italian Trade Commission in New York, and, when I moved to London in 1987, my eventual husband Michael imported her wines. So, when I say that Zerbina has a consistency of style and quality that spans decades, I know whereof I speak.

ENGLISH-LANGUAGE NOTE: “I know whereof I speak” is a fancy way of saying: “I know what I am talking about”.

CONTINI (www.vinicontini.com/en )

1995 Vernaccia di Oristano Riserva  A gold/orange, with vibrant orange highlights an clear rim. A bolt of flavour:  a creamy sensation shaped by hints of fig Newtons and hazelnuts, with peaks of tangerine citrus. A dance of flavors that emerge and recede, to re-emerge in the long, lingering, ever-evolving finish.

I had not tasted this wine in twenty years. One sniff and I was carried right back to that moment when I tasted it in the winery. “Burton Anderson described it as being like a dream,” said Mr. Contini.

VILLA BUCCI (www.villabucci.com)

2015 Villa Bucci Rosso (70% Montepulciano, 30% Sangiovese)

This wine is defined by its extraordinary balance. Elegance and ripeness. Round yet sleek. Supple on the palate, like a bolt of silk unfurling.  This is a wine that will continue to give pleasure for the next couple of decades.  

I have been tasting and writing about this producer since the early 1990. The wines have never let me down.


2015 Arqua (80% Merlot, 20% Cabernet, plus other red varieties)

A note of tar on the warm, caressing nose, a joyous buoyancy of velvety-cloaked acidity. A pleasing weave of fragrances: ripe red plums, brambles and a touch of raspberry. The plate follows the nose.  

I first net Lucio Gomiero 27 years ago! I asked him to pose for a goofy picture…and he did.

DI MAJO NORANTE (www.dimajonorante.com/)

2016 Tintilia del Molise (Tintilia is an indigenous variety, grown principally in Molise)

A lovely texture, not quite knubbly, not quite velvet – it is an intriguing mid-point between the two sensations. A veritable kaleidoscope of sensations on the palate. The fragrance is an attractive blend of fruit (wild blackberries, brambles) and floral (blossoms) sensations. A gentle spiciness.

In 2006 I was asked by my US publisher to pick 12 wineries to include in an “Italian Vineyards” calendar. Di Majo Norante was one of those I chose.  

PATERNOSTER (www.paternostervini.it)

2015 Don Anselmo (100% Aglianico del Vulture) A rich brown/dark plum, with a sheen of dusty rose. The perfume rises: a flash of toffee and a sprinkling of freshly-ground black pepper over firm fruit. A tanginess on the lingering finish.

The average age of the vines: 50 years.

One sniff and I was right back to Basilicata. A little table set up outside (but under an overhanging roof). There were one or two other people at the table and a…ah…Paternoster-man (maybe Vito?) standing to the right of the table. Twilight sounds were starting to quiet down. Very nice wine/very nice moment.  

And then…

PRÁ (Graziano) (www.vinipra.it)

2018 Soave “Otto” (named for a much-loved dog) (100% Garganega)

Very perfumed, full and appealing. On the palate, an explosion of greengage plums, pears and apricots, infused with floral notes. Michael found banana chips on the nose.

REVÌ 2016 Cavieliere Nero Rosé Riserva (100% Pinot Nero)

Enticing notes of cassis and strawberries. A floral note I could not define. Mr. Malfer provided the exact flower: Nigritella (mountain orchid).

GUALDO DEL RE (www.gualdodelre.it) Senzansia (100% Pinot Nero)

Fresh, with an appealing grapiness.

Albino Piona www.albinopiona.it2018 Bardolino

Strawberry notes on the nose that are echoed on the palate. Freshness and finesse. Sprightly.