New Essential Guide to Italian Wines launches 2015 edition
Umbria, Toscany, Piedmont, Lombardi: names rich with history and tradition, the birthplaces of many a culinary love affair. Italy’s magnificent reputation for wine is one that is both nuanced and well-deserved, representing one of the most diverse and yet fleetingly coherent palates. Italian wines need no introduction – outside of France, no other nation can excite an oenophile in quite the same way.
One such wine lover is renowned expert Daniele Cernilli. He may not be a household name in this country, but in Italy his influence is considerable. An influential figure in the history of the Gambero Rosso magazine, his concise and reflective judgement has earned him the respect of both critics and consumers alike. So the launch of his latest effort, The Essential Guide to Italian Wines 2015, was met with eager anticipation.
A good guide ultimately has a single driving goal: to educate and inspire. There is a multitude of ways to accomplish this, but it must always seek to leave the reader better informed than when they first opened its pages. In this regard, it’s hard to view Cernilli’s effort as anything other than a success. There’s a thorough level of detail – everything from the method of the wine’s aging to the exact environment that it comes from – but this information is kept concise and engaging.
The descriptions are wonderfully evocative, bursting with sensual adjectives that really help readers to understand both the core and subtle notes of the wines they’re buying. At times its terminology can fall a little into the cliché and meaningless statements that plague the writing in this industry. Such moments however, are both gratifyingly brief and generally surrounded by such rich descriptions that the reader is never left confused as to the wine’s taste.
Highlights include a wonderful selection from Tenuta Sette Ponti, whose passion and dedication shines through in some excellent bottles. The 2011 Oreno has already been hailed as a winner, its complex flavours and velvety texture underpinning a vibrantly fruity core. Despite having received less fanfare the 2012 Crognolo is an equally solid effort, even if it does lack that extra lack of subtlety. Given its relatively reasonable billing, it’s definitely a must-try.
There are also strong showings from Ronco Del Groso (the 2013 Friuli Isonzo Rive Alte Pinot Grigio), Falesco (the 2011 Montiano), Planeta (the 2013 Sicilia Bianco Cometa) and Masciarelli (the 2008 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Villa Gemma), though the real surprise comes from Cleto Chiarli. Well-priced lambrusco has undergone something of a renaissance in recent times, thanks to the game-changing Lambrusco di Modena by Cantina della Volta, but there’s a still a certain air about it, a cloying miasma of hesitancy born from a thousand corner-shop bargain bins. Coming from a well-established and considerable winery, it’s bold enough to fight these preconceptions, which it does with gusto. The 2013 Lambrusco di Sorbara del Fondatore is a revelation: full of bright, lively berries and a good sharp edge. At eight euros a bottle it’s the kind of hidden gem that makes guides like this essential reading.
The Essential Guide to Italian Wines 2015 by Daniele Cernilli is published by Arnoldo Mondadori Editore at the hardback price of €22 (£17).