SUMMER DRINKING – ITALIAN REDS
As we slowly emerge from over a year of lockdowns, outdoor dining sets to reign supreme this summer. You could be forgiven for turning your full attention towards chilled whites and Provence Rosés in these warmer months. However Italian reds still have plenty to offer when it comes to summer drinking. Whether you are looking for an accompaniment to a BBQ or lesser-known alternatives to your regular picks, these fantastic wines deliver.
If the barbeque is in full swing, don’t be afraid to turn towards bigger and more powerful wines. A whole summer abstaining from the wonderfully complex wines of Piedmont would be no fun. Sure, if it’s 28 degrees, maybe dial down on the tannins and pair your meat-feast with a Barbaresco. Both home to the Nebbiolo grape variety, Barbaresco DOCG lies to the north of its perhaps more famous sibling Barolo DOCG. Barbaresco is often lighter in structure, displaying softer tannins and making for a more elegant wine. While it may be better suited to the warmer weather it certainly isn’t lost against a line-up of grilled meats. For some of the very top producers look for Bruno Giacosa, Produttori del Barbaresco, and Giuseppe Cortese. Alternatively to get a feel for Nebbiolo at its very best but without the premium price tag try a declassified Langhe Nebbiolo from ‘one of the very finest producers’ - Produttori del Barbaresco available on Roberson's website.
Chianti Classico – Food Friendly Reds from the Heart of Italy
Our next wine takes us to central Italy and the Tuscan region of Chianti. Made from Sangiovese grapes a youthful Chianti tends towards displaying fresh strawberry flavours, sometimes with a slight spice. However, when aged, as is the requirement of Riserva wines, acidities can be softened, and more complex earthy aromas develop. Chianti wines make for surprisingly good summer drinking -because of the great acidity they are very friendly to lots of food pairings. Try ‘I Colombi’ Chianti Classico Riserva – a complex nose of rich dark fruits and leather but with very rounded tannins this Riserva has retained excellent acidity and will pair well with grilled meats and fish or a light pasta dish. If you are taking a bottle to drink with friends and you are not sure what food is going to be served a Chianti is a brilliant wine to have at the ready this summer.
Grape in Focus: Schiava
Finally, an introduction to the lesser known grape variety: Schiava (pronounced ski-ah-vah). This grape is the most widely planted in the South Tyrol wine region of Alto Adige and is incredibly popular among local wine drinkers, producing versatile wines that hold up with grilled seafood but work just as well lightly chilled and served as an aperitif or taken along to a picnic. Lighter in alcohol, lighter in body, and usually made dry to balance the natural sweetness of the fruit, with aromas of redcurrant, honeysuckle and often a floral note this may well be the perfect summer sip. Cantina Terlano, a world leading co-operative of the Alto Adige region opts to add a dash Legrein and uses the labelling term St. Magdalener, adding considerable body to the wine and perhaps making it worthy of barbeque showstopper status. You might have to dig around a bit for these wonderful wines as they are less common in the UK, but they are well worth the hunt.
I hope you enjoy your summer drinking and make some room for an Italian red or two!