One of my favourite annual wine events is the Definitive Italian Wine Tasting. As a long-term fan of Italian wine, I know it will give me a chance to taste a huge range of varieties with idiosyncratic characters and a consistently high rate of drinking pleasure. It's such a huge tasting, I decided this year to focus on the south. Italy can seem too complex and scary, but you have to start somewhere. List some of these and your customers will thank you.
Bargain basement Terre di Vulcano Falaghina Benevento, Bisceglia 2006 Cracking good value, this budget white doesn't have the complexity of more expensive versions of the almostfashionable Falanghina, but does offer real interest amidst a sea of vapid, cheap Pinot Grigio. It's fruity, with pear and pear drop aromas, crisp and dry.
(£7.56 per bottle, inc-VAT from Bibendum bibendum-wine.co.uk)
Brindisi Rosso ‘Vigna Flaminio', Vallone 2003 This attractive wine seems to find the perfect balance between the traditional and modernist styles. It's evolved and fruity with roundness and easy drinkability, but there is freshness and persistence too.
£6.50 per bottle, inc-VAT from Everywine everywine.co.uk Good value Cataratto, Terre di Ginestra 2005 Identified by Nicholas Belfrage in his authoritative book Brunello to Zibibbo as the best example of Cataratto, the latest vintage of Terre di Ginestra is as good as ever. It has an attractive honeyed nose, with the merest suggestion of oak adding complexity.
The palate shows more honey, interlaced with flavours of white flowers with a fresh acidity.
£7.03 per bottle, ex-VAT from Matthew Clark matthewclark.co.uk Vigna Pedale Castel del Monte Riserva, Torrevento 2003 I love the distinctive grapey, jammy, slightly perfumed character of Puglia's Nero (sometimes Uva) di Troia. This one has a moderately thick texture with sweet, crowd-pleasing tannins.
Could handle five minutes in an ice bucket if we ever have a a long hot summer.
£7 per bottle, inc-VAT lacompagniadelcavatappi.it Push the boat out Rosso Gravello, Librandi 2004 IGT Calabria The native Gaglioppo contributes dried fruits, a whiff of medicinal herbs and sage and that archetypal Italian ‘bitter twist', while junior partner Cabernet Sauvignon brings breed and depth.
Tannins are firm yet fine. This is an excellent wine.
£12.30 per bottle ex-VAT from Alivini alivini.com Solare, Capannelle 1999 IGT Toscana This very Tuscan wine represents an intriguing historical reversion; there is 20 per cent of white Malvasia blended with the Sangiovese. It's leathery and spicy, with exotic incense notes followed by a rich, chocolately palate with a lean balanced backbone.
£27.45 per bottle, ex-VAT from Top Selection topselection.co.uk