Celebrating the Greatness of Italy’s Smaller High-quality Wineries and Their Small-lot Wines: the New Vintages, Part 2

by Ian D’Agata

Italy has at least 15,000 good to very good wineries: many of them are small family-run operations (a characteristic of practically all sectors of the country’s industry, which is made up of small-fry companies compared to the world’s truly big outfits) that make wines in relatively small numbers. As I discussed in the introduction to part 1 of this piece devoted to small-lot wines, these small wineries often offer (but not always) very interesting wines made either from old forgotten grape varieties or wines from specific old vineyards that give unique wines. Some other small-lot wines reflect a desire to innovate, but beware that the successful estates are those who do so intelligently (to air-dry Cabernet Sauvignon because you can’t get it to ripen is not an example of innovating intelligently). The successful innovators are those who try to remain faithful to tradition while applying tweaks that help elevate what was previously being done in the area to a higher level, but clearly that doesn’t mean throwing the baby out with the bath water.

In this article’s second part, you will read about many more exciting wines and wineries: some with an already shiny future behind them as they are now well-know all over the world, and others that have recently emerged and have plenty to look forward to. Their future is also bright, so bright in fact it’s only a matter of time before they really won’t need to wear shades.

The wines in this tasting

All the wines in this tasting were re-tasted either in Verona during the latest edition of Vinitaly in the Micro Mega Wines thematic area, devotes to Italy’s small-lot wines. A few wines I also tasted or re-tasted in my office in Rome when I was back in Italy visiting wineries.

Casa Tione.

Three generations and counting for this winery located at Valeggio sul Mincio in Veneto, not far from Verona overlooking the Tione River amongst the Morenic marly hills of Santa Lucia ai Monti and Custoza. The estate is known for making high-quality wines including Custoza, Bardolino and even a Merlot, which though not native to Veneto is a highly traditional variety of the region that has at least three hundred years of history in the area.

Casa Tione 2023 Corvina Metodo Charmat Frizzante Rosmary             89

Bright straw. Slightly funky at first, but the nose clears with aeration to show simple nuances of apple and nectarine. Then similar flavours in a nice juicy delivery on the medium-long, fresh, finish. 100% Corvina and lots of flavour, with only 11% alcohol. Drinking window: 2024-2025.

Casa Tione 2023 Chardonnay Metodo Charmat Perla                     89

Pale straw. Rich yet fresh, very round and flavourful with a slightly sweet nuance to its orchard fruit aromas and flavours. This 100% fizzy Chardonnay wine spent three months on the lees; it’s very easygoing, pretty white and should find fans easily. Drinking window: 2024-2025.

Casa Tione 2020 Spumante Metodo Classico Pas Dosè Di Giò          92

Hazy straw yellow appearance. The perfumed nose offers bright flowers, peach, apricot, faded flowers and flinty minerality. Then big and rich but lively in the mouth, with a strong pineapple and crystallized peach flavour complemented by mint and chamomile. Cool and refined on the slowly building, tactile, fresh finish. A blend of Garganega, Cortese and Chardonnay that spent 30 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Casa Tione 2023 Custoza              86

Very pale straw yellow. Apple and pear on the rather aromatic, muscaty-like nose and mouth. To my taste this is too aromatic for a typical Custoza wine, so I didn’t like it but others will likely enjoy this more than I. Drinking window: 2024-2025.

Casa Tione 2022 Bardolino          91

Bright red-ruby. Perfumed aromas of red cherry, plum, herbs and cracked black pepper undertone. Then similar flavours, with a bright, juicy disposition and very good length, with a repeating violet lift. This is nice. A blend Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara. Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Casa Tione 2021 Merlot Veneto                 90

Bright, deep ruby. Forward aromas of blackberry, cassis, mocha, and a touch of pepper. Tactile and soil-driven, with dark plum flavours complicated by coffee and saline nuances. The aftertaste may not be the last word in complexity, but it is long and smooth. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Casa Tione 2021 Protetto Rosso Veneto           91

Nicely saturated deep ruby. Ripe but fresh aromas of cassis, licorice, cedar, coffee and violet. Then very fresh in the mouth too, with a pliant and clean flavour dark berry and chocolate flavors nicely framed by balancing harmonious acidity. Very nice and inviting on the long bright finish. A blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot, I liked this. Drinking window: 2025-2030.


‘Esole is a family winery run by young siblings Federica and Francesco. The estate’s ophilosopy, yet another of the high-quality wineries emerging in the Mamojada area of Sardinia, is to try and intervene as little as possible in the cellar and let most of the work get taken care of in the vineyard, as local tradition dictates. Cannonau leads the way, grown following ecosustainable and biodynamic practices.

‘Esole 2022 Barbagia Rosso Ghirada Garaunele A                  93

Good full ruby. The aromas of raspberry, blueberry and minerals scents are lifted by hints of violet and blood orange. Very fruity in the mouth, with flavours similar to the aromas nicely framed by big, ripe noble tannins. The aftertaste is long and luscious. At ‘Esole the goal is to produce slightly fresher, easier-drinking wines that are also slightly lower in alcohol if possible. From the northeastern subzone of the Mamojada, this is a good example of wines from this sector, that I find to be generally sleeker and medium-bodied compared to some heftier wines made in the area. Each style will have its fans. This specific wine, carrying the letter ‘A’ in its name, is made with the winery’s youngest vines, and it’s already a gem. Indigenous yeasts only were used in fermentation, as with all the wineries of the Mamojà association. Federica Dessolis, winemaker, and her brother Francesco are stars in the making: Federica trained and worked in outstanding wineries (Vincent Girardin and DRC, among others) after having studied winemaking in Dijon. Drinking window: 2026-2031.

Giovanni Ladu.

Giovanni Ladu 2021 Barbagia Rosso Ghirada S’ena Manna  92+

Lively ruby-red. Perfumed, layered aromas of red cherry, balsamic oils and forest floor. Then lively and precise in the mouth, with very good concentration to the spicy and herbal red cherry and dark plum flavours. Closes sweet and fresh, with noteworthy length plus hints of violet perfume. Indigenous yeasts only were used in fermentation, as with all the wineries of the Mamojà association. Hard to pick between this wine and Ladu’s Ghirada Sae Bisconte wine. Drinking window: 2026-2031

Giovanni Ladu 2021 Barbagia Rosso Ghirada Sae Bisconte           93

Bright deep red-ruby. Clean, fresh aromas and flavours of steely red fruit, subtle baking spices and balsamic oils, plus a nuance of orange peel. Fresh and lifted in the mouth, with a laser beam of harmonious acidity nicely extending the red fruit and herbal flavours on the long back end. Only 13.6% alcohol and lots of vibrant flavours, this brand-new wine from Ladu (this is the first vintage) is a very good example of what the eastern subarea of the Mamojada wine production zone has to offer. The vines are about 80 years old, planted facing northwest at about 720 meters above sea level and located in the eastern subzone of the Mamojada, that tends to give, to my taste at least, not the biggest of the Mamojada’s Cannonau wines, but definitely some of the deepest, most refined and complex. Indigenous yeasts only were used in fermentation, as with all the wineries of the Mamojà association, this is an especially lovely Cannonau wine. Drinking window: 2026-2031.


Graziana Picchi and Lorenzo Fabbri are a life couple that is also the heart and soul of Gralò [the name of the company is derived from the union of ‘Gra’ (of Graziana) and the ‘Lo’ of Lorenzo]. Gralò offers two different lines of sparkling wines, all made by secondary fermentation in the bottle in the manner of Champagne: The Gralò Franciacorta line of sparkling wines is made in the Brescia territory (where they farm three hectares), while the Colletto sparklers are made in the nearby territory of the city of Bergamo (where they have another two hectares the valley between the Valcalepio denomination and the Colli di San Fermo). But though the vineyards aren’t that far removed from each other, the wines are really quite different. Gralò is one of the more exciting, up-and-coming wineries in Franciacorta today, that was born in 2019 when Graziana met Lorenzo (she had previously started making the Colletto wines at her AgroBio Relais, a beautiful country resort covering ten hectares of woods, olive groves and terraced vineyards that launched its first vintage back in 2009). With their meeting, and union, Gralò as we know it today was formed and launched. The Gralò estate is a boon to the “less is more mantra”, making small production, very high-quality bubblies that deserve to be better known. Colletto also makes sparkling wines by secondary fermentation in the bottle, and differ considerably from those made at Gralò Franciacorta because of their much yeastier, nuttier nature.

Gralò Franciacorta Extra Brut                92

Bright straw green. Refined, light-bodied, penetrating aromas and flavours of green and yellow fruit and herbs. Finishes long with a whiplash of acidity and a nice harmonious mouthfeel. 100% Chardonnay that is stainless steel fermented. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Gralò 2020 Franciacorta Satèn                 93

Vivid straw yellow. Big ample rich aromas of almond, buttered toast, vanilla and peach. Then just as big and rich in the mouth and with similar flavours, this finishes gently mouthcoating and long. I’m usually not a big fan of Satèn bubblies that have only 1 g/L of r.s., finding then to be usually much too dry, but this is a real joy. Well done. 100% Chardonnay that spent sixty months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Gralò 2019 Franciacorta Rosé Pas Dosé                 93

Bright pink colour. Freshly baked cookies and red cherry aromas and flavours are nicely complemented by a note of nutmeg. As the bubbly category it belongs to implies, there is zero residual sugar here and yet this doesn’t taste punishingly dry at all. 100% Pinot Noir, stainless steel fermented, hyperoxigenated (in contrast to their 2020 Blanc de Noirs) and aged thirty months on the lees. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Gralò 2020 Franciacorta Blanc de Noirs               94

Bright pale straw yellow with a steady stream of small bubbles. Complex, deep, outstanding sparkler offering enticing hints of cotton candy, peach, pear, strawberry and herbs. Smooth and layered, with bright froth enlivening the rich flavours. Finishes long and clean. No dosage. Disgorged in 2023. Drinking window: 2026-2031.

Colletto 2018 Chardonnay Il 27 Metodo Classico Extra Brut            91

Bright straw colour with a medium/large bubbly bead. Perfumed nose displays pear, nectarine, and peony plus an undercurrent of spice, ginger and lemon peel. Fresh orchard fruit and bittersweet citrus flavours are suave and mouthcoating, finishing long with a floral quality rising on the back end. From organically grown bio grapes, this 100% Chardonnay underwent full malolactic and spent 60 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2026-2031.

Colletto 2012 Chardonnay Il 33 Metodo Classico Blanc de Blancs Pas Dosé   91

Medium dark straw yellow with some gold. Intense nuttiness on the nose, with strong notes of butter, balsamic oils, puff pastry camouflaging the orchard and citrus fruit somewhat.  Taut and risingly austere in the mouth, with hazelnut, almond and pear flavours that are concentrated and sharp. This is very smoky thanks to the extended lees contact, but a touch of minerality adds lift and cut to the long, smoky and subtly sweet finish. Spent 90 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2026-2031.

Colletto 2012 Chardonnay Il 99 Fiore Metodo Classico Pas Dosé            92

Golden-tinged straw yellow. Puff pastry, brioche, honey, and orange peel on the nose and in the mouth. Nutty and yeasty like the Colletto 33 Metodo Classico but less obviously smoky and nutty than that wine, despite the same number of months on the lees. Closes long and suavely mouthcoating. Made by using only French yeasts, this spent 90 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2026-2031.

Colletto 2013 Pinot Nero L’88 Metodo Classico Extra Brut Rosè           91

Bright pale golden-pink. Fresh aromas and flavours of pomegranate, strawberry and herbs are clean and precise, with a steely disposition. Closes long and with a chewy quality. 100% Pinot Noir, this spent 84 months on the lees. Drinking window: 2026-2031.


Inserrata is a family winery that believes in organic farming and has been doing so since 1997. The estate is situated in a beautiful natural habitat near San Miniato and it is devoted to protecting and promoting the area’s biodiversity. The winery grows and makes wine from both native and international grapes  (Sangiovese, Trebbiano Toscano, Chardonnay, Merlot). Moved by a strong passion for the arts, the winery is well-known for its creativity and for upholding values that reach beyond those of agriculture; for a few years now, the winery has been collaborating with artists from all over Europe and organizing photography, art and design shows.

Inserrata 2022 Trebbiano Vino Bianco Macerato Insolito 92

Slightly cloudy medium yellow-orange colour. Aromas and flavours of walnut, geranium leaf, orange curd and apples, Fresh yet layered in the mouth, with a savoury character to the orchard fruit and herb flavours that are bright and precise. Nicely textured and fresh with a very clean focused and energetic profile on the long saline finish. This is a Trebbiano Toscano wine that is excellent as far as orange wines go. It’s very slightly cloudy colour because is explained by the fact that it is bottled unfiltered. Very well done. Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Lorenzo Mattoni.

Though the winery was founded only in 2012 near Bevagna in one of the Montefalco’s denomination best areas (because of its wealth of subsoil clay that is of paramount importance in years when drought rules), Lorenzo Mattoni and his family are not newcomers to the Umbrian scene. Lorenzo’s father Lodovico was one of the men behind urging the Italian ministry of agriculture to create the Sagrantino di Montefalco DOC  in 1979, and he was also amongst the first, if not the first, to vinify Sagrantino as a dry red wine. Lorenzo’s production now stems from nine hectares farmed traditionally and respectfully of nature. The estate makes only three wines, one the famous Sagrantino, but also an excellent Umbrian red and a delicious white local Trebbiano Spoletino wine. Lorenzio Mattoni is truly one of the up-and-coming producers of Sagrantino and Montefalco wines.

Lorenzo Mattoni Trebbiano Umbria Bianco

Medium golden-tinged colour. Discreet but vivid aromas of yellow apple, balsamic oils, citrus peel and white flowers. At once penetrating and sweet, with enticing pliancy to the concentrated, pure orchard fruit and floral flavours. Not a particularly powerful style but carries some weight (you can tell it was aged in cement) and long, this is really excellent, leaving behind a nice memory of fresh citrus fruits. Drinking window: 2026-2031.

Lorenzo Mattoni 2021 Dinamico Umbria Rosso          93

Good bright, medium ruby. Dark red cherry, licorice and vanilla aromas are lifted by minerals and violet.  Seamless but youthfully tight on entry, then opens up spectacularly on the back half, showing superb noble tannins, excellent peppery lift and outstanding persistence. Very good, long and suave, this is a real knockout for the money. It’s amazing to me how you can decide to blend together two of the world’s potentially most green and tannic wines (Sagrantino and Cabernet Sauvignon) actually believing it to be a good idea, and then still make an amazingly polished, nuanced wine: I could joke and say the poor Merlot in the blend really has to work overtime here, but in fact it’s more a matter of Mattoni harvesting physiologically ripe grapes and then not making any major mistakes in the cellar. Very well done, this will prove perfect with any grilled meats and sausages you can think of, including game. A blend of 50% Sagrantino, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Merlot. Drinking window: 2026-2031.

Lorenzo Mattoni 2018 Montefalco Sagrantino            93+

Vivid deep saturated ruby-red. Initially slightly closed and strongly herbal, but pretty aromas of blackberry, blueberry, violet, cocoa powder and oak emerge with aeration. Big, pliant and deep, already offering considerable charm to its full-bodied, massive flavours of dark fruits, cocoa, woodsy underbrush and saltpeter. The aftertaste is nicely supported by broad, noble tannins that dust the tongue and hit late with hints of pine needles and aromatic spices. Made with 100% Sagrantino grapes that were eco-sustainably farmed, this promising young wine spent18-20 months in big 30 hL barrels; it improves markedly with even just a little aeration. So, decant at least one full hour ahead before serving; even better , cellar it for another couple of years at least. The 2019 is still in bottle and yet to be released. Drinking window: 2026-2031.


Maeli is recognized today as Italy’s most important and arguably best producer of Moscato Giallo Fior d’Arancio (Yellow Muscat Orange Flower) wines, a special and distinct variety of Muscat that typifies this part of Veneto. Maeli’s vineyards are found on Monte Pirio inside the National Park of the Euganean Hills. The area’s cool climate, rich biodiversity of holly oaks, strawberry trees, broom trees, prickly pears, dog rose shrubs, and unique soils allow the production of unique, vibrant wines. The soils are of volcanic origin, but contain also limestone, white marls and loam, hence the name of ‘Terre Bianche del Pirio’ by which the immediate area is known. But Maeli is more than just outstanding Muscat wines: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Carmenère also grow well here.

Maeli 2023 Moscato Giallo Dilì Frizzate col Fondo Veneto          92

Slightly hazy bright yellow. Grapefruit, lemon peel, and white flowers. Then very clean and energetic with saline strokes to the orchard fruit and herb flavours. Closes long tactile and juicy. This Maeli Pet-Nat is always a superb wine for those who like the style: I honestly don’t usually like Pet-Nats, but  even I think this is wonderful, so you can well imagine just how good it is. Drinking window: 2024-2025.

Maeli 2020 Moscato Giallo Secco Bianco Infinito Veneto         94

Bright golden yellow. Intensely aromatic on the nose, with cinnamon, lemongrass, coriander and white pepper complementing ripe mango and lemon curd. Enters luscious and fresh, with flavours of acacia honey, yellow peach and tangerine nectar. The long aftertaste features some herbal nuances and a tactile rising mouthfeel. This is a superb still Moscato Giallo wine. Drinking window: 2023-2026.

Maeli 2020 Rosso Infinito Veneto                           93

Good bright ruby. Captivating aromas and flavors of blueberry, black plum, cedar, ink, and herbs, complicated by a touch of mocha. Youthful and juicy, very fresh and intense, offering very good extract and suave flavours of dark fruit, licorice, coffee and sweet spices. Closes with supple tannins, sweet fruit and lots of class. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, this is excellent. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Maeli 2019 Rosso Riserva Infinito Veneto                    92+

Classy, very deep aromas and flavours of blackcurrant, purple flowers, some bell pepper and graphite, complicated by smoke and ink. Concentrated and rather powerful, with nicely balancing acidity that helps extend the deep flavours on the long, rising back end.  A very nice blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère and Merlot  in a year when the Carmenère was especially prevalent (about 40% Carmenère in this 2019, but it will be around only  27% in the 2020). Very nice, promising wine that can be enjoyed now but that will improve with a few more years in the cellar. Drinking window: 2026-2032.

Maeli Diloro 2016 Fori d’arancia Colli Euganei Vino Passito        94

Translucent yellow-gold. Concentrated but lifted and very perfumed aromas of yellow peach, papaya, mango, crystallized lemon peel and acacia honey. At once thick and light on its feet thanks to harmonious acidity, this rich and suave wine is crammed with ripe flavours of dried fruit and honey. Closes thick yet vibrant, with outstanding sweet length. Drinking window: 2024-2032.


The winery is located in the province of Pordenone in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, between the Venice lagoon and the Alps. It was part of the inheritance left to the current owners by an ancestral merchant family that dealt in wood used to build Venice’s gondolas and buildings. In fact, the family coat of arms displays a tree (the Cembro Pine). Perhaps, grapes will soon have to be added, given the winery is fast becoming famous for its very good Proseccos (and now good still wines too). In 2002, grapes such as Glera and Pinot Grigio were planted and are farmed eco-sustainably (certified SQNPI). The  objective is to produce wines respectful of the territory in honour of the many generations of the family that have been linked to this specific part of Italy.

Najma 2021 Glera Prosecco Extra Brut          91

Pretty straw yellow with a rapid stream of small bubbles. White peach and floral aromas combine with similar flavours boating anice savoury touch. Long and nuanced on the rising, refreshing back end. Made with four different clones of Glera, this vbery fine bubbly spent six months on the lees (hence we say irt was made by the “long Charmat-Martinotti (tank) method” and boasts 3-4 g/L r.s. Drinking window: 2024-2026.

Najma 2023 Glera Prosecco Brut                     90

Bright pale straw colour. Apple and pear with a hint of apricot and herbs on the nose and in the mouth. Simple and straightforward, but nicely approachable and conveys a very nice acid/sugar/fruit balance (7-8 g/L r.s.). Cloves and balsamic oils nuances are nicely persistent on the finish. Drinking window: 2024-2025.

Najma 2023 Glera Prosecco Extra Dry            91

Luminous pale straw yellow. Aromas and flavours of candied jasmine, white peach, ripe apricot and sweet spices. Smooth and suave, with perceptible sweetness making this an off-dry sparkler in tune with the category it belongs to (Extra Dry) with 14 g/L r.s. Perhaps just a touch less complex than the Najma Prosecco Brut, but ultimately more enjoyable, and besides, it’s also a fairly deep Prosecco with likely better balance than that one. Drinking window: 2024-2025.

Najma NV Vino Spumante Rosé               92

Bright medium pink. Expressive aromas of strawberry, raspberry and violet on the expressive nose. Then ripe and suave in the mouth, with delicious small red berry and cherry flavours enlivened by hints of candied violet and sweet herbs. About 9 g/L r.s., a little less than some past bottling of this wine in previous years (when it reached as much as 12 r.s. g/L) this atypical, rare bubbly (rare in that it is made with Refosco del Peduncolo Rosso), is very pretty, finishing round, smooth and long. Maybe the best version of this wine I have had yet from Najma. Braviiiiiiii! Drinking window: 2024-2027.


Pietraventosa is on of Italy’s best red wine producers, making wines from the Primitivo (Zinfandel) grape that speaks of a unique terroir, that of Gioia del Colle. Raffaele and Marianna wanted to make wines respectful of their territory (the winery has been organically ICEA certified since its existence) and grapes; therefore, extremely low yields, green harvests and strict grape selection at harvest. These are outstanding Primitivo wines that speak of the wild biodiversity that is the Murgia area of Puglia, cooler and mountainous, far removed from the sea that gives very refined, even minerally Primitivo wines.

Pietraventosa 2023 Bianco Apriti Cielo Murgia          92

Pale yellow-green. Pretty aromas of citrus peel, nectarine and spice. Fresh and pliant with a firm mineral underpinning providing shape and lift to the savoury pear, peach and spice flavours. Accessible and fragrant, this blend of Malvasia Bianca and Minutolo will make an excellent aperitif. Drinking window: 2024-2025.

Pietraventosa 2023 Rosato Estrosa Murgia           91

Bright pink. Notes of red cherry and tobacco on the nose and in the mouth are clean, fresh and ripe. Closes long and bright. This 2023 pink wine is 100% Primitivo because the Aglianico was wiped out by the Peronospora (downy mildew) that in 2023 plagued all Italy. Drinking window: 2024-2026.

Pietraventosa 2021 Primitivo Volere Volare Puglia        90+

Deep ruby. Red cherry, tobacco and licorice dominate the nose and the mouth. Youthfully tactile, chewy tannins are on the tough side and further heightened in their gritty sensation by a herbal undertone. Aged in 300 liters tonneaux, this is still very youthfully raw and it needs at least another year in the bottle to have those tannins resolve somewhat.  Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Pietraventosa 2019 Primivo Gioia del Colle Allegoria       94

Good saturated dark red. Vibrant aromas of strawberry, tobacco, licorice and herbs. Dense, seamless and juicy, with strawberry, apple, and cocoa flavours complicated by a potpourri element. Displays excellent verve on the long and lively close. Aged 50% in oak. This is an outstanding example of what Gioia del Colle brings to the table when it comes to Primtivo wines, that are much more austere and classic in their red wine personality compared to the riper, softer, higher alcohol and lower acid Primitivo wines of Manduria. Each will have its fans, but if you like Bordeaux, then Goia del Colle is for you (while southern Rhone lovers might want to gravitate towards Manduria).  Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Pietraventosa 2019 Primivo Riserva Gioia del Colle        95

Deep saturated ruby-red.  Ripe, complex, deep nose offers black cherry, red plum, orange peel and licorice, plus hints of dried fig and mocha. Plush, velvety and ripe, but with an obvious underlying steely tannic core that nicely supports the pliant flavours of red fruit and herbs. Closes with suave tannins and excellent length and grip.  This is outstanding.  Aged 18 months in 300 liters new oak barrels. Drinking window: 2025-2031.

Podere Castello Aurin.

A family-run winery that is well-known for delicious Prosecco bottlings, with vineyards located near the Belluno Diolomites. The owner, Gianni Gorza, grew up listening to the stories of wine producers who used to bring their Prosecco wines to the family store in Aune, and his passion was such he studied agronomy before launching himself into wine production. The winery is very much a family affair, with Gianni, his wife Maria Teresa, their daughters and even their nephews working with them. Castello Aurin is making delicious prosecco wines that are garnering increasing attention nationally and internationally.

Podere Castello Aurin 2023 Prosecco Brut            92

Bright straw with a nice creamy froth. Then perfumed with vivid apple, pear and white peach nuances lifted by white flowers. Very creamy in the mouth too, boasting noteworthy persistence of ripe orchard fruit and delicately spicy flavours. Long and smooth on the juicy harmonious and long finish. 100% Glera planted in 2018. As far as most Prosecco DOC wines go, that often leave a lot to be desired, this is a gem. Drinking window: 2024-2026.

Podere Castello Aurin 2023 Prosecco Extra Dry          92

Light straw colour with a strong bead. Ripe white peach and apricot on the enticing nose. Lush, creamy and delicately sweet, offering pliant, very creamy flavours of blood orange and peach. Off-dry but not cloying, with good energy and nicely persistent floral notes on the long juicy close. Another knockout Prosecco from this obviously very talented producer. Drinking window: 2025-2031.

Podere Castello Aurin 2022 Grillo Sicilia              91

Bright straw colour. The inviting nose combines pear, smoke, lime and herbs. Nicely supple but energetic in the mouth, with an open-knit, forward fruity personality boasting yellow fruit and almond flavours. Firm acidity nicely extends the minty and nutty elements on the long finish. From fifteen hectares in the territory of Menfi, this is the first vintage of Grillo for this producer. Drinking window: 2025-2031.

Podere Sabbioni.

The winery boasts 4 hectares planted at 170 meters asl, at 20 km from the seacoast, on the border of the Natural Reserve of Abbadia di Chiaravalle di Fiastra, in the commune of Petriolo. Due ridges overlooking the Fiastra stream create a canal effect, such that there is always a cooling breeze. The soils are limestone and sand, poor in nutrients and give back wines that are saline, vertical, mineral. The wienry grows only native grapes, mostly Maceratino (used to make a wine called Ribona of which Podere Sabbioni is the best producer of) but also Verdicchio, Montepulciano and Sangiovese. The estate sues ecosustainable farming practices and has a metro station in its vineyards to be able to follow the growing season closely from a climate aspect.

Podere Sabbioni 2023 Verdicchio Marche Bianco        90

Light yellow-green. Subtly perfumed nose of fresh green apple, nectarine, mint and minerals. A juicy, focused midweight, with enamel-stripping, laser-like acidity energizing the minty orchard and stone fruit flavours and zingy minerality. Finishes classically dry and stony, and repeating lemony acid lift. A single vineyard wine that I think is very promising and that might offer a whole lot more in the years to come. Drinking window: 2025-2030.

Podere Sabbioni 2023 Ribona Colli Maceratesi           92

Pale yellow. Laid-back lemon, orange and pear aromas are complemented by dusty talc and dried flower notes. Soft and round, with slightly warm citrus and orchard fruit flavors and an expansive back half. This will work well with richer seafood preparations. Drinking window: 2024-2031.

Podere Sabbioni 2022 Ribona Riserva della Famiglia Colli Maceratesi                               94

Bright straw yellow with some gold. Complex nose of ripe citrus and orchard fruit aromas, along with hints of mint, balsamic oils and grilled nuts. Finely smooth pear and Meyer lemon flavours are lifted by tangy minerality and lemony elements. The long suave finish offers fresh citrus peel nuances and mineral notes to the rich, nicely mouthcoating fruit flavours. This wine has been a knocvkout from day one, and if anything it is only getting better. Drinking window: 2025-2033.

Podere Sabbioni 2023 Rosato Marche                    92

Bright pink. Juicy fresh and lively, with pretty red berry and herbal nuances that linger on the juicy zippy finish. Perfect summertime sipper, this is an excellent Rosato. Drinking window: 204-2025.

Podere Sabbioni 2021 Rosso Piceno                 92+

Good bright ruby. Deep aromas of raspberry, licorice and menthol are lifted by topnotes of violet and peony. Juicy acidity focuses the very rich red and blue fruit flavours. Finishes with lively acidity and firm but polished tannins that coat the palate. Very impressive fruit- and floral red closes with a rising perfumed back end. A blend of 85% Montepulciano and 15% Sangiovese, this is a much better wine than the somewhat raw 2020 Rosso Piceno: well done. Drinking window: 2026-2032.


Primosic is one of Italy’s best white wine producers. Located in Oslavia, in the heart of the Collio area of Friuli Venezia Giulia, the Primosic family has lived here for generations. In fact, the bottle bearing the “number one”, the first bottle with the DOC Collio designation, was produced by the Primosic winery, a testimony to the winery’s long history and its goal of making top quality wine in full respect for the land. The Oslavia area is the cradle of the Ribolla Gialla grape, a true grand cru in fact, and of Orange Wine; over the years, the Primosic family has showcased and re-interpreted this grape variety to reveal, depending on the wine-making method used, all its potential and always modern charm, not to mention the many different styles of wine that can be made with it.

Primosic 2019 Klin Collio                   91

A blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Tocai Friulano and Ribolla Gialla that were all harvested on the same day in an Austrain Gemisher Satz-philosophical bent. The fact that at Primosic they are blessed with inordinate amounts of talent has led to this wine being what it is : clean, long , rich complex; in other words, a gem, though its Sauvignon Blanc-dominated profile may not be for those who like this variety less. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Primosic 2023 Friulano Collio            94

Good full yellow. Apple, chamomile, lime, and almond on the nose and in the mouth. Rich, layered and very fruity on the impressive, long, and pleasantly mouthcoating aftertaste that features Collio-precise salinity. This is superb: if you haven’t yet taken a shine to Tocai Friulano and its Friulano wine, make sure to give this beauty a try. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Primosic 2023 Ribolla Gialla Think Yellow Collio       94

Bright deep straw yellow. Classic Ribolla Gialla aromas of lemon cream, tangerine and minerals, plus a hint of white flowers and saffron. Less obviously powerful and glyceral than the Primosic 2023 Tocai friulano, but with strong if harmonious acidity giving terrific cut and lift to the middle palate. The very precise and focused flavors of orange nectar, flowers and wet rocks energize the palate without weighting it down. This refreshing beauty should reward aging. It’s hard to believe that as good as the Primosic 2023 Tocai Friulano is (and it really, really is), their 2023 Ribolla Gialla wine is even better. Hard to believe, but the Ribolla Gialla grape variety, when treated with the respect it deserves, really is one of the world’s noblest white grapes. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Primosic 2023 Sauvignon Blanc Collio            93

Luminous straw-green. Clean notes of gooseberry, white peach, passion fruit, lime, and sage on the nose and in the mouth. This is a really very pretty wine that boasts a vibrant and pure, with very good length and mouthcoating presence on the lively, rising, fresh finish. If you like Sauvignon Blanc, well, this is the wine for you. Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Primosic 2018 Chardonnay Reserve Collio    92

Deep straw yellow. Aromas of stone fruit, hints of pineapple, butter, herbs, balsamic oils and forest floor. Rich and round on the long finish. Spends five years aging (two in oak and three in bottle) This used to be called Chardonnay Gmajne, but no longer. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Primosic 2019 Ribolla Gialla Riserva Collio   95

Deep yellow. Floral, lemon jelly, orange curd and strong balsamic oil notes on the deep layered nose. Then similarly layered and complex in the mouth, with concentrated flavours of crystallized apricot and fruit gelatins complemented by green tea, orange peel and spices. The long, tactile finish features smooth tannins and repeating balsamic oils nuances. Drinking window: 2024-2032.

Osvaldo Soddu.

The Osvaldo Soddu winery  lies 1 km from the village of Mamoiada in a location known as Bruncu Boeli at 630 meters asl. Osvaldo, the yioungest of eight children, grew up in a family more associated with sheep farming than wine-growing, so he did not enjoy working in the family vineyard when young. The passion struck in 2004, when he inherited a hectare of land from his father with an eighty-year-old abandoned vineyard. Thirty years old, Osvaldo planted the new vineyard with Cannonau, renovated an old country house and built his cellar opposite the vineyard itself. The 2019 vintage was the first one to be officially bottled: 5000 bottles of 100% Cannonau, made as rosé, red and Riserva. Traditionally made wines, from organically-farmed grapes with little addition of sulfur.

Osvaldo Soddu 2022 Cannonau di Sardegna Brulleri Ghirada Bruncu Boeli                92

Medium deep red-ruby. Vibrant red fruit and herbs are perked up by a minty and forest floor note on the nose and in the mouth. A noteworthy presence of menthol picks up where the very ripe red fruit left off on the long vibrant back end. Made from one hectare of old bushvines facing southwest, and aged sixteen months in used French oak tonneaux. A wine made with grapes grown in the northern subzone of the Mamojada that were picked two weeks earlier than usual in the hot 2022 vintage so as to make a fresher, more lively wine. Indigenous yeasts only as will all the wineries of the Mamojà association. The grapes were sourced in a ghirada located in the northwestern subzone of the Mamojada that leaves me the impression of being the subzone offering the greatest variation in wine styles, all of which are however noteworthy. I like the potential of this area for world-class Cannonau wines.  This strikes me as one of the best young wines made by Osvaldo Soddu, really a name to watch in Mamojada, as the wines are going from strength to strength. Drinking window: 2026-2031.

Osvaldo Soddu 2021 Cannonau di Sardegna Brulleri Ghirada Bruncu Boeli                       93

Vivid dark red-ruby. Inviting aromas of ripe red cherry, licorice, violet and spicy oak. Suave on entry, with harmonious acidity nicely framing the ripe, sweetly spicy red fruit flavours. The long aftertaste is juicy with polished tannins providing support. This is very good, rich, sweet and long. Very well done; consider me a fan! This is a single vineyard wine made from the Bruncu Boeli ghirada, located in the northwestern subzone of the Mamojada; the wines tend to be rich and deep, though can differ noticeably between each other more so than in other subzones of the territory. Indigenous yeasts used only, as will all the wineries of the Mamojà association The word “bruncu” in this wine’s name means “summit”. Drinking window: 2026-2032.                  

Osvaldo Soddu 2020 Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva       91+

Deep red with a garnet rim. Spicy garrigue and citrus notes dominate the rich, intense nose. Then rounder and richer in the mouth than Soddu’s other Cannonau wines on entry, but leaves an impression of building and slightly tough tannins on the long back end. Nuances of air-dried, raisiny grapes help buffer that tactile sensation somewhat. From the estate’s vines growing at about 600 meters in altitude in the highest part of Soddu’s vineyards, where the topsoil is very poor and thin and tends to give naturally very low yields. Indigenous yeasts only as will all the wineries of the Mamojà association; this was aged one year in toasty six hundred liters barrels. Very nice wine, but probably best to cellar it a little longer before pulling the cork (hence the ‘+’ on  my score). Drinking window: 2028-2033. 


Owners Mattia and Elisa have deep, ancient ties to wine and founded Redalmo, a small family-run winery that is making exciting new wines. The husband and wife team is deeply committed to respecting their diverse terroirs and their land, with the objective of producing the best possible wines they can. The vineyards, located on the volcanic hills of Monteforte d’Alpone and on the conglomerates and red clay soils of the Colli Berici (near the municipalities of Lonigo and Alonte) in Veneto, are planted to typical (Garganega, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot) and less typical (Marselan) varieties of Veneto.

What I find most exciting about their wines is that they not only have a soul, remaining true to the grape variety the name of which is on the label, but that also made in a very pure, clean, concentrated renditions that are both intelligent and easy to understand. Gimmicks or hype is absent at Redalmo: no ramblings on by would be gurus who think they have invented wine; no mumbo jumbo about orange, heavily macerated or natural wines that then taste dirty and flawed; no prattling on about indigenous yeasts, amphoras from some unheard of place in the Caucasus and all the rest of it. Just good sensible winemaking and wines that you want to sit down and drink, not to mention enjoy. No small feat, you will agree.

Redalmo 2023 Garganega Verona            91

Luminous straw yellow. Bright fresh aromas and flavours of yellow orchard fruit, minty herbs and spices. Finishes long, savoury and mineral. A very good Garganega wine that showcases well all the qualities this grape variety has. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Redalmo 2023 Sauvignon Verona             91

Bright yellow. Melon, iris and sage on the lifted nose. Enters fruity, then turns increasingly mineral in the middle and on the finish. Very rich and ripe but also fresh and clean on the long finish. Stainless steel only. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Redalmo 2023 Marselan Rosso Veneto    93

Luminous red-ruby with some purple. Perfumed, expressive, sweetly spicy aromas of red cherry, blueberry, strawberry with hints of quinine, licorice and floral notes adding complexity. Deep-pitched red and blue fruit flavours are enlivened by tangy minerality and repeating violet tones. Neatly plays dark berry and sweet cherry elements off fresh minerality, finishing with a strong echoes of strawberry. I absolutely love this wine’s clarity and cut, not to mention its overt juicy, fresh, floral, fruity, highly refreshing personality. I have already written this just slides down like water and that analogy remains true: you’ll be hard pressed to find a more drinkable, enjoyable red wine this year. Marselan is a rarely grown and vinified grape in Italy (the world’s best Marselan wines are made in China, though Uruguay has some dandies too). It is a crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache developed by Paul Truel in 1961 in France, Marselan was intended to be an ideal wine grape for areas with hot climates but its small berries turned off farmers faster than you could blink. Now that we live in times that are less poor and more hedonistic, Marselan is making a comeback. Drinking window: 2024-2028. 

Redalmo 2023 Merlot Veneto            92+

Bright, good full ruby-purple. Sultry aromas of blackberry, cassis and violet, plus a hint of herbs adding freshness. Dense, creamy and concentrated on entry, but then more lifted and lighter on its feet on the long finish. In a smooth, ripe style but nicely integrated acidity gives it balance with the Marselan adding freshening notes of licorice and more flowers. Finishes with a hint of oaky torrefaction and sneaky length. A blend of 85% Merlot and 15% Marselan, this is another exceptionally good wine from Redalmo, but I suggest leaving it in the cellar for a couple of years to let its youthful oakiness settle down. Drinking window: 2026-2032. 

Rossignoli Rinaldi.

The Rossignoli Rinaldi winery was born out of the desire to finally estate-bottle wine and take the family’s long association with wine to a new level. The estate owns three hectares in the heart of the moraine hills of Lake Garda on the Veneto side of Italy’s largest lake, near the city of Villafranca. The vineyard boasts vines that are over fifty years of age from which the winery currently makes two wines: A sparkling wine made by the classic method of secondary fermentation in the bottle (called d’Ester, it’s a blend of 95% white grapes and 5% Corvina vinified as a white wine) and a red wine (Severosso, named in honour of the owner’s father Severino, made with Corvina, Rondinella and Cabernet Sauvignon). 

Rossignoli Rinaldi 2019 Metodo Classico Brut Nature d’Ester        91

Bright dark straw yellow. Aromas of freshly cut flowers, chamomile, nectarine, pear and earth tones. Fresh and savoury in the mouth, with very good acid lift extending the apple, pear and herb flavours on the long fresh back end. Made from a complex blend of Garganega, Trebbiano Toscano, Tocai Friulano, Riesling Italico (Welschriesling) and 5% Corvina vinified as a white grape; each of these local grapes adds something to the mix, such as for example the Trebbiano Toscano that adds savouriness and the Corvina that adds freshness while making the wine more typical of the area as it is a grape strongly associated with Veneto, like Garganega. This spent 32 months on the lees and matured in stainless steel tanks. About 10,000 bottles made of what is a very good bubbly indeed. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Rossignoli Rinaldi 2020 Severosso Rosso Veneto                       90

Deep ruby. Aromas and flavours of ripe red fruit complicated by herbal and bell pepper notes. Broad, large and youthfully chewy on the long smooth finish. A blend of 65% Corvina, 20% Rondinella and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is named after Severino, the owner of the estate. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

San Silvestro.

The Associazione Produttori di Nascetta del Comune di Novello promotes and showcases the qualities of Nas-cëtta, a local semi-aromatic white native grape that typifies Novello’s territory. The wine was launched by local small wineries of the Novello commune (most famous as one of the eleven Barolo-producing communes of the Barolo denomination) in 1994: in 2010, the official DOC Langhe Nas-cëtta del Comune di Novello was born: these wines are 100% Nas-cëtta grown only in the Territory of Novello.

San Silvestro makes a strong Nascetta wine. Founded by da Giovanni Sartirano in the 19th century, San Silvestro is but one of the eleven estates adhering to the association (a number that continues to grow) but makes one of the more tactile, fleshy, approachable Nascetta wines of all.

San Silvestro 2023 Langhe Nas-cëtta del comune di Novello Langhe 91                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Pale, bright yellow. Peach and fresh acacia flowers on the nose along with thyme and rosemary notes. Silky, glyceral and very well-balanced, with a fine-grained texture and wonderful closing lift on the long finish. The wine boasts a real light touch, and though it’s not the last word in complexity, boasts sneaky concentration and features a certain degree of orchard fruit sweetness and minerality that intrigues. Nicely savoury on the bright and long finish. Strikes me as one of the better wines I have had from San Silvestro in some time. I quite liked this: well done. Drinking window: 2024-2026.

Tamburino Sardo.

The Tamburino Sardo winery, founded in 1968 by Adriano Fasoli, is now being run by him along with his two sons, Stefano and Giuliano. The winery is situated in the highest point of Custoza, known as the hill of the Tamburino Sardo. Since 56 years, the Fasoli family has produced quality wines from Custoza, Bardolino and various Valpolicella wines, including Ripasso and Amarone. The vineyards are mostly located around the winery’s main building, and grapes typical of the Custoza area are grown: a local Trebbiano, Garganega, Cortese, Riesling, (and Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella for Bardolino Doc and Bardolino Chiaretto Doc wines), plus some international grapes like Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The estate is organic /biodynamic certified.

Tamburino Sardo 2023 Custoza                92

Bright pale straw colour. Wonderfully scented nose of white peach, tangerine peel, orange flowers and apricot. At once fresh and juicy, with more than enough verve to energize the orchard fruit, mineral and herb flavours. Boasts really terrific inner-mouth energy, focus and length. Vinifed in stainless steel only, so the fruit is pure and unadulterated. No behemoth, just beautiful balance and precision: there’s a ton of wine for the money here. At 80-100,000 bottles a year, if this isn’t the best Custoza wine made today, I don’t know what is. You will find that the talent level at Tamburino Sardo is really noteworthy, something that a taste of any other wine made by the estate will further confirm, and then some. This Custoza is a blend of all the locally grown varieties, such as Trebbiano Toscano, Garganega, Tocai Friulano, Bianca Fernanda (Cortese), and Riesling.  Drinking window: 2024-2026.

Tamburino Sardo 2023 Custoza Superiore La Guglia       92

Made from the same vineyard that gives rise to this estate’s magnificent Custoza Adrano wine, the Custoza Superiore La Guglia is made by severing the grape stalks in September and laving the grapes to air-dry partially directly on the vine: this leads to a richer, thicker wine. This is a blend of Trebbiano, Garganega, Tocai Friulano, Malvasia Bianca, Cortese, and Incrocio Manzoni very slightly macerated on the skins and kept in autoclave for about five months. About 70,000 bottles/year made. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Tamburino Sardo 2021 Custoza Adriano              95

Bright straw yellow with some gold. Multilayered, deep and complex aromas and flavours of yellow fruit, balsamic oils, white flowers, puff pastry and botanicals. Suave and mouthcoating, with a polished mouthfeel that lingers impressively on the very long back end. A truly unique wine made in only 4,000 bottles a year, the Adriano is characterized by very long aging in bottle (just imagine that the 2023 will only be released for sale in 2026): it’s the key to understanding its success. If the regular Custoza wine from Tamburino Sardo is the best entry-level wine from the denomination, then Adriano is the best Custoza wine period: in fact, this is one of Italy’s thirty or forty or so best white wines. Trust me: you’ve never had a Custoza like this one: and not because it’s been filled up with Chardonnay, Sauvignon and other cheap shortcuts [Adriano is a blend of 45% Garganega, 45% Bianca Fernanda (Cortese) and 10% Trebbianello], but because it’s just extremely well-made from local old varieties and vines. Drinking window: 2024-2030.

Tamburino Sardo 2023 Bardolino Chiaretto 90

Bright pink. High-pitched aromas of raspberry, orange peel and violet, with hints of mineral dust. Classically dry, juicy and racy in the mouth, featuring zesty red berries and citrus peel flavors that gain weight with aeration. Finishes long with noteworthy clarity and cut, boasting noteworthy depth and precision compared to most other Rosato wines made today. A blend of 50% Corvina, 30% Molinara and 20% Rondinella, this is everything a Bardolino Chiaretto ought to be but rarely is. Drinking window: 2024-2025.

Tamburino Sardo 2023 Bardolino                   93

Light, bright red. Red cherry, black pepper, candied raspberry and violet on the fragrant, penetrating nose. Fleshy and seamless on the palate, offering juicy red fruit flavors and touches of licorice and floral nuances. Juicy and bright, this finishes supple and extremely long, with lingering red cherry and delicately spicy qualities. This is really excellent: I can’t remember the last time I had a Bardolino this good. Finally, a wine that doesn’t try to, culpably, reinvent the wheel: considering the area’s historic grape varieties, soil and climate, Bardolino is an ideal spot to make fresh, light-bodied, perfumed wines brimming with charm. This wine from Tamburino Sardo allows the area’s wine terroir to show itself in the glass to full effect. A blend of Corvina, Molinara and Rondinella, my only complaint with this juicy little perfumed number is that there’s only 5000 bottles/year made. Drinking window: 2024-2027.  

Tamburino Sardo 2021 Valpolicella Classica Superiore              92

Medium dark ruby. Explosive aromas of red and blue fruits, sassafrass and cherry cola. Suave, supple and glycerally sweet, with a firm core of harmonious acidity nicely framing the red and black cherry flavours, complicated by hints of cracked black pepper. Finishes long, with ripe tannins and subtle hints of raisins and balsamic vinegar. A blend of 60% Corvina and Corvinone, 30% Molinara and 10% Rondinella where the grapes are lightly air-dried for 2 to three months; the wine is aged for eighteen months in stainless steel and three months in oak and cherry wood barrels. There are two secrets to this wine, and no, it’s not the air-drying (not by a long shot). First, I can’t even begin to tell you how important the Molinarta is in this blend, allowing for a fresh, juicy, saline, spicy, wine that is just a joy to drink and puts about 90% of all Valpolicella wines out there to shame. Second, the use of cherry wood, that always gives a much rounder, sweeter Valpolicella wine: given its porosity, it is not an ideal type of wood with which to make age-worthy wines, but that is not, and should not be, the goal of a Valpolicella wine. This is a gem. Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Tamburino Sardo 2021 Valpolicella Classica Ripasso        91

Good red-ruby. Peach, plum, sweet spices and hints of milk chocolate on the nose that teeters on the brink of being roasted. Then sweet, deep and pliant, with a fleshier texture and an almost liqueur-like richness to its fruit compared to the Valpolicella classico. Very long and youthfully chewy, but with a good underlying supporting spine. Just like the Valpolicella Classico, this is a blend of 60% Corvina and Corvinone, 30% Molinara and 10% Rondinella where the grapes are lightly air-dried for 2 to three months; the wine is aged for eighteen months in stainless steel and three months in oak and cherry wood barrels. I am honestly not a fan of most Ripasso Valpolicella wines, that almost always tend to mimic Amarone but in a poor copy sort of way, and end up offering neither the lift and charm of a genuinely good Valpolicella nor the richness and depth of a great Amarone. Neither fish nor fowl, Ripassos are often disappointing wines, but not in this case. Well done here. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Tamburino Sardo 2016 Amarone della Valpolicella Classica       95

Bright ruby with a pale garnet edge. Cocoa and leather complicate sultry red cherry and blackberry aromas and flavours. Hints of sweet spices and peppery herbs merge with aeration. Very clean and suave, finishing with a long, layered aftertaste that showcases building complexity and very noble tannins. Beware that this is not, as most Amarones go nowadays, a behemoth; but it is remarkably nuanced and well-balanced, making for a highly delicious drink that will match well with stews and grilled meats of all kinds. Best of all, it won’t have you thinking you should have poured it into a liqueur glass or a thimble. A blend of 60% Corvina and Corvinone, 30% Molinara and 10% Rondinella air-dried for three months in 2016; the wine was aged for eighteen months in stainless steel and twelve months in oak and cherry wood barrels. Drinking window: 2025-2034.


At Tasi, they believe that a new agriculture is possible, where man and nature work in harmony creating authentic products positively impacting the environment. They follow and experiment with regenerative organic and biodynamic farming practices as they want their wines to be a natural expression of their terroir. The goal is to regenerate the natural balance of the ecosystem, protecting and promoting biodiversity, rebuilding the natural fertility of the soil and restoring the natural resistance of the vines (the estate grows the classic grapes of the area, like Corvina and Garganega). Clearly, they believe that an authentic wine is a product of a healthy environment and a true expression of its terroir, its vineyard and the people who make it. The winery makes many different wines that are easy to like and approachable, most of which offer very good value for money.

Tasi 2023 Prosecco Brut 90

Bright straw. Apple and pear dominate on the nose and in the mouth. Sweet and savoury with a stronger tactile presence than most Proseccos. A very interesting bubbly made in the volcanic Colli Euganei that spent almost three months on the lees. Not the last word in complexity, it boasts an intriguing sweet and sour orchard fruit nuance on both the nose and in the mouth. Finishes long and clean, and offers enough interest and juicy charm to warrant a 90-point score. Drinking window: 2025-2036.

Tasi Garganega Veneto  90

Straw yellow. Vibrant, pure aromas of lime leaf, powdered stone and yellow apple. Offers juicy flavours of crystallized lemon peel and yellow apple. Broad and horizontal yet weightless with nice, long, subtly saline character. Sneaky complexity here. Drinking window: 2025-2027.

Tasi Garganega Brut Nature Metodo Classico Moon Nature  89

Straw green. Biscuity, tropical fruit and apple aromas and flavours in this refreshing bubbly.  Finishes long with an underlying green streak that is not to my liking, but those who don’t mind it will enjoy this bright fresh bubbly more than I. Spent twelve months on the lees. Drinking window: 2025-2027.

Tasi 2023 Rosato Veronese                 88

Bright pink. A mostly Corvina and Corvinone blend, this enters fresh and lively, then turns bigger. Medium-long and clean on the finish which features a slightly gummy tactile mouthfeel. Better on nose where its bright aromas are very inviting. Drinking window: 2024-2025.

Tasi 2023 Valpolicella                   91

Bright, deep ruby. Lively aromas of blackberry, blueberry, violet and graphite, with hints of cracked black pepper. Fine-grained and sweet, with an attractive light touch to the flavours of dark and red fruits, violet, and fresh spices.  Finishes bright, brisk and very long. This fresh, very approachable Valpolicella is clean and easy to drink. A blend of 47% Corvina, 28% Corvinone, 23% Rondinella, 2% Oseleta grown at the foot of the Natural park of the Lessinia, indigenous yeats only and six months in cement vats priopr to going into bottle. Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Tasi 2020 Valpolicella Superiore               88

Deep saturated ruby.  Blue and raspberry, licorice, violet and a hint of camphor on the nose. Intense cassis and blackberry fruit flavors are complemented by chocolate mint. Fruity and lively on entry, but then turns mountingly tough, astringent and even a little green. Almost painful today, perhaps cellaring for a year or two will help, but I wonder.  A blend of 47% Corvina, 28% Corvinone, 23% Rondinella and 2% Oseleta. Spent 24 months in cement tanks. Drinking window: 2025-2027.

Tasi 2019 Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso       92

Deep ruby. Aromas of strawberry and cocoa, with hints of sweet spices. Large-scaled and brooding, displaying dense flavours of red fruits, milk chocolate and tea accented by fresh herbs.  Plenty of texture and extract on the clean perfumed and very fresh, long finish that features smooth, not tough at all, tannins. Well done. This is an interesting wine as it doesn’t try and mimic Amarone at a lesser level, but rather has something of its own to offer. A single vineyard wine planted in an old marl and limestone quarry, this was fermented in stainless steel, then underwent ripasso (refermented) on Amarone skins for fifteen days and spent twenty-four months maturing in 25 hL oak barrels. Drinking window: 2025-2030.

Tasi 2017 Amarone della Valpolicella             93

Saturated bright ruby. Pure, perfumed but reticent nose offers raspberry, violet and dark chocolate aromas.  Deep, well-balanced and sweet in the mouth, with blackberry and red cherry fruit complemented by hints of cocoa and coffee. The building tannins are substantial but ripe, with sweet black and red fruit flavours nicely persistent on the aftertaste. This boasts very harmonious acidity and is very light on its feet for an Amarone; for example, you won’t even notice that it clocks in at almost 17% alcohol. Really very well done. The grapes were air-dried for three months and the wine rested for three to four years in Austrian oak barrels. Drinking window: 2025-2034.

Tenuta del Travale.

You have most likely heard and also most likely tasted the Nerello Cappuccio and Nerello Mascalese wines of Etna. But have you ever tried such wines from Calabria? Well, it so happens both those grapes have also long called Calabria their home. The estate was founded in 1993 when the current owners took over an abandoned estate and replanted an “heroic” vineyard (dubbed so by the CERVIM) amidst century old olive groves. The two hectares are planted with the local Nerello Grapes (80% Nerello Mascalese and 20% Nerello Cappuccio) on two opposite sections of the hillside at relatively high altitude (520 meters asl). The family’s approach to wine is also a cultural one: the labels depict a miniature of the Abbot Gioacchino, who was born in the area. And on the label of their top wine, Eleuteria, they include each year a phrase in Latin, sharing the family’s philosophy of life with everybody who enjoys their wines. The estate was founded in 1993 when the current owners took over an abandoned estate and replanted an “heroic” vineyard (dubbed so by the CERVIM) amidst century old olive groves. The two hectares are planted with the local Nerello Grapes (80% Nerello Mascalese and 20% Nerello Cappuccio) on two opposite sections of the hillside at relatively high altitude (520 meters asl). The family’s approach to wine is also a cultural one: the labels depict a miniature of the Abbot Gioacchino, who was born in the ara. And on the label of their top wine, Eleuteria, they include each year a phrase in Latin, sharing the family’s philosophy of life with everybody who enjoys their wines.

Tenuta del Travale 2023 Nerello Cappuccio Epicarma Calabria Rosato                   91

Bright medium pink: very pretty colour, almost a shiny pale crimson. Aromas and flavours of fresh red berries, herbs and some oaky spice. Long and clean on the nicely focused, energetic finish. 100% Nerello Cappuccio that was aged in oak for the first time (six months in partly used barrels). I’m not sure I prefer this to the unoaked Epicarma wines of the past, that I actually quite liked, but I agree that the wine has more body now, becoming more of a light red wine than a true Rosato in the process, which is something many might appreciate. Drinking window: 2025-2034.

Tenuta del Travale 2021 Esmen Tetra Calabria Rosato                       94

Deep red. Delicate smoky nuances complement fragrant aromas of red fruit and pungent flowers. Then deep and suave, with a very lively, lifted personality and lingering flavours of red cherry, candied violet and hints of sweet spices. You can tell this really beautiful red wine was made using whole bunches. It was aged one year in Allier oak and new chestnut wood barrels. This is probably, unless memory fails me now, the best Esmen Tetra ever made. There’s a lot of wine for the money here, and it would be the top wine at many wineries, while here it plays second fiddle to the Eleuteria. This is an 80% Nerello Mascalese and 20% Nerello Cappuccio blend that was aged one year in used barriques. About 30% whole bunches were used. Drinking window: 2025-2034.

Tenuta del Travale 2021 Nerello Mascalese Eleuteria Calabria Rosso                      92

Vivid red-ruby. Very ripe nose of cherries macerated under spirits, plum sauce, raspberry reduction, vanilla and musk. Then also very ripe in the mouth, with flavours similar to the aromas. Matured eighteen months in oak barrels then six more in bottle. The grapes were harvested two weeks later than usual, and you can really tell, as this wine is borderline overripe. No doubt, it’s an impressive red wine, but lacks the refinement of previous vintages. Drinking window: 2026-2034.

Tenuta Parco dei Monaci.

The Parco dei Monaci winery was established in 2007, south of Matera on the Murge plateau, where centuries earlier Benedictine monks selected the first Primitivo vines. The estate was born from the passion of Rosa Padula and Matteo Trabacca, through the rediscovery of the terroir chosen by their ancestors centuries earlier. Wines produced exclusively with estate grapes, harvested by hand and pressed within an hour of harvesting, in the estate’s cellar directly in the vineyard. Besides the good wines, low spurred cordon training, yields limited to 60 quintals of grapes per hectare and certified organic and eco-sustainable agro-ecological cultivation in all areas of the estate (the estate’s energy needs are met entirely by solar systems) are the highlights here.

Tenuta Parco dei Monaci 2023 Rosapersempre Rosato Matera        92

Deep-pink wine, more like a light red than a true Rosé. Then also deep on the nose, with precise and pure aromas of red fruit, sweet spices and herbs. Then similar flavours, with vibrant cut and plenty of clarity to the nuances of juicy spicy red cherry, raspberry and balsamic herbs. Closes long and tactile, with above average density and concentration for a Rosato. Add to this that the wine’s name is an act of love from the husband to his wife, and you have a wine that’s truly easy to like even if it weren’t so darn good.

Basilicata isn’t the first place you think of when looking for a good Italian Rosato, as Abruzzo and Puglia have that market pretty well-cornered, even though there certainly are a few other outstanding Rosato wines coming from other parts of the country (Elba, Piedmont). Also, Primitivo isn’t the first grape that comes to mind when you think of a good Italian Rosato wine, and yet… And yet that’s exactly what you get with Tenuta Parco dei Monaci, one of the best pink wines I have tried all year. Very well done, this is superb.  Drinking window: 2024-2028.

Tenuta Parco dei Monaci 2021 Primitivo Monacello Matera        91

Full medium ruby. Fruit/forward aromas and flavours of strawberry and kirsch complicated by delicate hints of dried fig, smoke and tar. Pliant and light on its feet, this is not the last word in complexity but is nicely fresh and approachable. The long back end is redolent of red cherry and licorice nicely framed by broad, dusty tannins.  Aged in 500 liter tonneaux. Drinking window: 2024-2027.

Tenuta Parco dei Monaci 2021 Moro di Matera Spaccasassi        94

Bright full ruby. Red and black cherry, violet and coriander on the nose, along with notes of aromatic wood and camphor.  Dense, plush and concentrated, but with excellent cut and focus thanks to underlying bright, harmonious acidity that lifts and intensifies the dark red fruit, herb and licorice flavours. Very fine-grained but with plenty of extract, this will age nicely. Is it the best Spaccasassi I have ever tried? Maybe. About 60% Cabernet Sauvignon with Primitivo and Merlot, macerated on the skins for six to seven weeks and aged 24 months in 500 liter tonneaux. Drinking window: 2026-2034.


Teularju is a family estate born in 2017 run by Giovanni, Elisabetta, Vincenza, Marco and Giuseppe and named after the specific place name where the original vineyard grows. The winery practices organic farming and the first wines were made in 2019; they are fermented with indigenous yeasts, and look to be made in afresh and elegant style, easy to drink and approachable, using the traditional grapes of the area.   

Teularju 2022 Barbagia Rosso Ghirada Rizza              92

Luminous red-ruby. Very freshly fruity, then piercingly floral (violet, rose, peony) on the nose and in the mouth. This is made with early-picked grapes and you can certainly tell, given this wine’s high-acid personality; the pungent nature of the aromas speak of the use of whole bunches (5% whole bunches used). The aftertaste is vibrant and juicy and features repeating notes of violet and light red cherry. I liked this! Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Teularju 2022 Barbagia Rosso Ghirada Erula             93

Bright deep red. Flamboyant, lively aromas of macerated red cherry, minerals, licorice, violet and building cinnamon. Round and pliant, this boasts rich, sappy flavours of cherry, raspberry and spices. Finishes with polished tannins, plenty of energy and very good focus. Richer and deeper than Teularju’s Ghirada Rizza and it’s not due to a different vine age, given that all these vines were planted in 2012. Drinking window: 2026-2032.

Teularju 2022 Barbagia Rosso Ghirada Ca’ Gonare       95

Good full red. Ripe, sweet red cherry and berry notes are lifted by a strong mineral edge that I don’t find, at least not to the same extent, in the other Cannonau wines from this estate. Closes very long and nicely vibrant, with hints of crushed rocks and redcurrant jelly. Southwest-facing vines planted in a ghirada characterized by slightly finer soil and I think that that shows through the tactile sensation this wine leaves on the palate. Drinking window: 2026-2032.

Teularju 2022 Barbagia Rosso Ghirada Ocruarana           95

Ruby-red. Expressive aromas and flavours combine perfumed fruit aromas (plum, cherry, raspberry) with mocha, minerals, and sweet spices. Sweet and silky, boasting strong suggestions of minerality and of a real lightness of being. Closes long with even if youthfully chewy tannins and a hint of iron. Made with grapes picked in the highest part of a vineyard facing northwest, and planted on highly stony soil that is very hard to work. This is an absolute knockout, very complex and long. Made with grapes from the Mamojada’s northern subzone. Drinking window: 2026-2033.


Family-owned estate, Tiberio specializes in wines made from authentic Abruzzo native grape varieties. At 350 meters above sea level, twenty-three miles inland from the sea near the lovely medieval hillside town of Cugnoli, Riccardo Tiberio found a very old plot of Trebbiano Abruzzese vines, which, despite the variety’s name, is a rarity in Abruzzo. A high-quality variety has nothing in common with other Trebbianos, the 60 years old vines must have been a great sight for Riccardo, who then and there decided to change his and his family’s destiny by quitting his job as an export manager starting his own winery in 2000. Today the winery is run by son Antonio (viticulture) and daughter Cristiana (winemaking) and it makes some of Italy’s best white, pink and red wines.

Tiberio 2023 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo                        93

Luminous green-tinged yellow. Very pure nose that is more floral than usual but also more intense, with yellow and green apples, fresh citrus fruits, pear, white flowers, and a nuance of anise on the enticing nose; I can’t remember the last time this wine had a nose that was so impressive. Then at once densely packed and racy, with superb cut and clarity to the flavors of white fruit, lime and crushed stone, complicated by an obvious candied gingery note. With its bracing, almost youthfully high-acid finish, but buffered by ripe fruit of sneaky concentration and complexity this leaves a very impressive lingering aftertaste behind. At times with even very good Trebbiano d’Abruzzo wines you get a piercing mouthful of wine but not much in the way of facets: the great thing about this 2023 from Tiberio is that, though bigger and more textured than some previous vintages, it remains very faithful to the variety and kicks things up quite a few notches, without ever becoming tiresome or caricatural. It’s just an outstanding vintage for the grape variety and this wine showcases that in spades, and then some. One of the best Trebbiano d’Abruzzo wines from Tiberio in years; in many respects, this is really a baby Fonte Canale, so you know this offers a ton of value for the money. Drinking window: 2026-2031.

Tiberio 2023 Pecorino Colline Pescaresi                92

Bright green-tinged deep straw colour. Very ripe aromas of quince paste, lemon curd, glazed pineapple and orange oil, freshened up by a Pecorino-typical note of green figs; given the riper, showier style, there’s not much in the way of the variety’s usual sage and thyme nuances here. Then also rich and ripe in the mouth, with a very mellow, velvety mouthfeel to the fleshy, sultry almost tropical fruit and ripe citrus flavours. The aftertaste is long, creamy and round. This rich round ripe Tiberio Pecorino might not age as well as some other vintages of this wine, so drink up: but then again, it’s so delicious now, why defer gratification? I liked it, but those preferring higher-acid, more lithe wines might want to take a look at the very lifted, piercing 2023 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo from Tiberio, one of the best in recent memory. I had two bottles of this; both were just dandy, but one seemed fresher than the other. I scored it 93 and this one 92. Drinking window: 2024-2029

Tiberio 2021 Trebbiano d’Abruzzo Fonte Canale        96

Pale yellow-green color. Layered low-pitched nose combines ripe apricot, candied ginger, crushed flint, candied lemon, balsamic oils plus saline and white flower nuances. Quite reserved today but very pure, displaying outstanding depth and richness but also wonderfully penetrating thanks to an underlying strong acid spine. Closes saturating the entire mouth with tactile minerality and repeating balsamic oils, plus a stronger than usual gingery note. A great example of this super wine, if in a different style in relation to the year (for the first time thay had to lightly press the grapes because tehre was little or no free-run juice because of the smaller grapes in relation to the heat and wind of the year that made for thicker skins and smaller berries). Very rich in keeping with the year’s weather, but doesn’t taste thick, in the way of the best examples of this famous wine. This has delivered on its early promise but will require patience to show all it has to offer. Drinking window: 2026-2031.

Tiberio 2023 Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo                         93

Light red-pink. Raspberry, cherry skin and spicecake on the nose, with a subtle floral quality adding complexity. Juicy and fresh, this nicely concentrated Rosato boasts mineral-accented red berry flavours and slow-building spiciness. Closes long and tangy, with greater stuffing and a bigger fruit-forward profile than some recent vintages. This is powerful enough to handle richer foods such as white meats and pasta and pizzas with tomato sauces. Drinking window: 2026-2031.

Tiberio 2022 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo                93

Good bright ruby-red. Blackberry, red cherry and dark plum on the nose, complicated by smoky minerals and an enticing whiff of blood orange. Enters fresh and juicy but with a distinctly luscious quality to its very ripe dark berry and cherry flavours, freshened by repeating nuances of blood orange. Closes broad and lush, with a saline element, hints of sweet spices and Montepulciano’s typical substantial tannins. This was obviously a good vintage for the Montepòulciano variety. Drinking window: 2024-2029.

Tiberio 2020 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Archivio        94+

Bright deep ruby. Aromas of raspberry nectar, blackberry, espresso, minerals and sandalwood. Penetrating, linear and youthfully imploded, with raspberry and dark red cherry fruit flavours of noteworthy energy and focus. Harmonious acidity and suave but noteworthy tannins provide backbone to the ripe, creamy fruit flavours.  Finishes long with superb inner-mouth tension, but patience will be required to have it develop fully in a good cellar. Drinking window: 2027-2031.

Tiberio 2020 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Colle Vota       95

Good deep, bright red. Knockout aromas and flavours of dark fruits, violet, licorice, menthol and flint. Dense but seamless, with wonderfully precise broad, palate-staining red fruit and mineral flavours. Offers a texture of liquid velvet but also boasts a light touch that is very Colle Vota. The long aftertaste features fine-grained tannins, wonderful class and depth. Drinking window: 2026-2031.


Valdisole, founded in 2015 in Corneliano d’Alba, its vineyards a testament to heroic viticulture, planted on dizzyingly steep hillsides of the Roero and Langhe UNESCO world heritage area. The estate embraces sustainable and organic practices, producing “natural” wines we believe reflect a deep commitment to rare grapes and the essence of nature’s artistry. At the core of their philosophy is the exclusive use of specific grapes, ensuring each bottle is a pure expression of the land, such that they want Valdisole to stand for the authentic voice of natural wines, celebrating the harmonious relationship between soil, vines, and climate.

Frankly speaking, er writing, I normally don’t like strongly macerated white wines because getting the right amount of maceration is no easy task: many such wines, when not downright flawed and undrinkable, are often just too bitter and grippy because the prolonged skin contact was taken too far with too much tannin leaching out and making the wine unbalanced. I like natural wines even less, a category often used by less than talented wine people to justify all of sorts of flaws in their poorly made wines. But none of those concerns apply to Valdisole, a relatively new and very interesting winery in Piedmont. Owners and life partners Kiriaki Kalimeri and Giuseppe Amato founded their estate in 2015 in Piedmont, at Corneliano d’Alba, and try to make low-intervention wines that speak of the Roero’s sandy soils and the unique Piedmontese grape varieties that grow in the region. They have done lots of great research and are working with both well-known cultivars (Arneis, Nebbiolo) and unknown ones (Malvasia Moscata, Moscato Nero di Acqui) and that is a really important facet of what they do. For example, you want to make macerated wines? Well, unlike what some gurus and self-anointed brains out there wish to believe, not just any grape can be macerated effectively and well (yes, you can macerate anything, but to do it with a successful results is another matter). And so, yes, the grape variety is also very important: in this light, the aromatic grapes such as Gewurztraminer have a real leg up on the maceration competition. So when passionate and talented winemaker/winery owners combine with the right grape variety, all bets are off, and wine magic can happen. Which is exactly the case with the Valdisole winery.

Valdisole 2022 (Arneis) Armonia Vino da Tavola               90

Pale orange: this is not the extreme “glow in the dark” orange colour of many such wines. Aromas and flavours of herbs, tea, orange peel and crystallized grapefruit. Lively and easygoing on the long straightforward finish.  This is a blend of 85% Arneis and 15% Moscato Bianco (the former macerated on the skins for 15 days and the latter for 50 days) spontaneously fermented, with low added sulphites (30 g/L); after eight months on the lees, the wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered. The wine’s name, armonia, meaning harmony, refers to the winery’s attempt with this wine to offer more obvious and immediate aromas than is normally common with macerated wines. Beware that the word “Arneis” does not appear on the label because this is a table wine, because of shall we say silly laws that do more harm than good: given that wine is not a soft drink, it would be good for everybody to know what grape variety it is made with, and bureaucracy be damned. Drinking window: 2024-2025.

Valdisole 2022 (Malvasia Moscata) Elektra Vino da Tavola            93

Bright deep yellow colour with a delicate orange cast. Complex aromas of lemon curd, white pepper, lychee, saffron, crystallized apricots, and quince paste dominate on the fresh, rather floral and penetrating nose. Then also penetrating but harmonious on the palate, where nuances of linden honey combine with the ripe crystallized and fresh yellow fruit that was present on the nose. Finishes suave and vibrant, with outstanding length and purity. The winemaking talent level is on full display given this was macerated six months on the skins and yet is beautifully well-balanced. Elektra is a knockout orange wine made with Malvasia Moscata, a rare aromatic white grape from Piedmont (but the 2021 Elektra is less aromatic on the nsoe than this beautiful 2022). There’s about six or seven people growing this wine grape in significant quantity, but onby a few make a monovariety wine with it. This winery may be a newcomer to the Italian wine scene, but with wines this good I’d say it’s here to stay. Well done. Beware that the words “Malvasia Moscata” do not appear on the label because this is a table wine: stupid, unfair laws make it so he or she who is buying has no idea what it is they might be buying. Drinking window: 2024-2026.

Valdisole 2022 (Moscato Nero di Acqui) Utopia Vino da Tavola            88

Garnet-tinged pale medium red. Licorice, quinine, camphor and sweet spices camouflage delicate red berry, blue fruit and orange peel aromas and flavours. Fresh and vibrant in the mouth, with a pungent floral inner-mouth perfume, and clean if subdued fruit on the long tactile and high-acid finish. I was thrilled to taste this wine for the first time, but was left not so enamored of the experience, feeling like Utopia doesn’t convey much of an aromatic character and reminds me very little of any known Muscat variety. The grapes were macerated for six months, but apparently cutting down on that maceration time is not possible because otherwise the wine proves to be too herbal (but maybe that’s because the grapes weren’t physiologically ripe?). I don’t know: I think this is an extremely exciting wine and my hats off to Giuseppe and Kiriaki for having done the legwork in sourcing the vines to begin with, not to mention to then go and vinify a wine with said grapes, but it seems to me that currently this wine doesn’t make full good use of the Moscato Nero variety. Still, the wine is very pure and promising, so I am hopeful that the talented duo running things will quickly solve the issue. Note that I have put the words Moscato Nero di Acqui in brackets in the wine’s name given that as it is a table wine, the winery is not allowed to put the grape variety’s name on the front label. Drinking window: 2024-2025.

Valdisole 2022 Simposio Vino da Tavola               90

Pale reddish-straw colur. Laid-back orange, faded rose and canned pear aromas are complemented by dusty mienrals and forest floor notes. Fresh and juicy, with cool citrus and orchard fruit flavours and an expansive tactile back half. A complicated blend of Barbera, Freisa, Malvasia Nera, Ruchè, Pelaverga and Moscato Nerod’Acqui spontaneously fermented, with low added sulphites (40 g/L); the wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered. Note that the Pelaverga-whatever, the Moscato Nero and the Malvasia-whatever were subjected to carbonic maceration and that the Barbera, Freisa and Ruché are fermented separately and added later. Drinking window: 2024-2026.

Valdo/Tenuta Pradase.

Valdo is huge producer of Prosecco wines (in fact, percentage-wise of the total, the biggest). But to their credit, they have engaged in the small-lot production of a truly great Valdobbiadene DOCG Brut made by the classic secondary fermentation in the bottle with ancient and native clones recovered and planted in the vineyard of Valdo’s Tenuta Pradase (note that the wine’s name has recently been changed to Vigna Pradase). A single vineyard emblematic of the Valdobbiadene and Prosecco Superiore area, named ‘Library’ in honour of its heritage value because they replanted it with all the major rare grapes that were once part of the Prosecco blend (today almost all Prosecco wines are 100% Glera, but historically that was never the case). Credit once again to Valdo, that conceived and created it, even renovating the original splendid farmhouse next to the vineyard. Tenuta Pradase is the nerve centre of Valdo Spumanti, an authentic place to represent the traditions of the people of the area, to offer hospitality and refreshment.

Valdo 2020 Vigna Pradase Metodo Classico Brut                       93

Vibrant straw-green with a rapidly rising stream of small bubbles. Green apple, toasted nuts, nectarine and mint on the nose, with a leesy element in the background. Pure and mineral, with energetic orchard fruit flavours that have a steely quality to them. Lively minerality adds freshness and complexity to the long rising finish. A blend of Glera with 15% Bianchetta Trevigiana, Verdiso and Perera, this is an extremely interesting bubbly made by secondary fermentation in the bottle. My suggestion to the Valdo staff is to consider making a Prosecco Superiore by the tank method with this same blend of grapes, as there is virtually nobody doing so anymore. They would have not just a great wine on their hands (far more complex and interesting than one made with 100% Glera alone, as in my experience those Proseccos that do have percentages of Perera especially are wildly better wines) and something to have people talk and write about too, given that wine’s uniqueness. Drinking window: 2024-2027.


At Venissa is an absolutely unique winery like few others in the world. There exists a project of agricultural restoration and of sustainable hospitality, including a Michelin-starred restaurant, a wonderful country resort, and an unbelievably beautiful old vineyard that sinks its roots into the Vencie lagoon’s saline soils. The owners (the Bisol family that sold off its Bisol Prosecco interests to the Lunelli family of Ferrari sparkling wine fame but kept Venissa for themselves) want to play a proactive role in protecting the integrity and authenticity of Native Venice through the conservation and enhancement of historical and traditional practices. The fundamental key to all of this, what makes it all tick, is the Bisol family’s desire to give a second life to Dorona, the lagoon’s native white grape variety that disappeared after the great flood of 1966. Within the walled vineyard of Mazzorbo, we have revived the centuries-old viticultural tradition of the lagoon, rediscovering the symbiosis between Dorona and its terroir of origin, from where we make both the Venissa and Venusa line of wines.

Venissa 2020 Venusa Dorona Veneto Bianco           93

Golden-tinged straw yellow. White flowers, yellow peach and musk on the enticing nose. Then fresh and lively in the mouth with similar flavours to the aromas and a refreshing saline nuance to the lingering orchard fruit nuances on the long vibrant back end. Aged two years in cement tanks, Venusa Bianco is an excellent white wine that delivers a different take on the Dorona grape, making for a wine that is more vertical, immediately approachable and savoury. About 8-10,000 bottles a year. 100% Dorona. Drinking window: 2024-2028.    

Venissa 2018 Venissa Dorona Veneto Bianco          95

Deep straw yellow with some gold. Fresh aromas and flavours of ripe citrus fruits, yellow peach, mint, menthol and licorice root, with a bright lavender topnote. Suave, deep and multilayered, this highly complex white lingers long on the taste buds and in your memory cells. Outstanding vintage for Venissa, this is a beauty. Also beautiful are the label and bottle, easily amongst the ten most beautiful of all Italian wines. 100% Dorona. Drinking window: 2024-2028.    

Venissa 2016 Venusa Veneto Rosso                  94

Deep vivid red-ruby. Strong mineral notes complement ripe red fruit and herbs on the enticing nose. Offers an uncanny combination of sweetness and savouriness in the mouth, with plenty of sweet fleshy fruit but also high harmonious acidity that helps extend the dark berry, coffee, herbal and sweet spice flavours on the long suave  and very mineral back end. A blend of 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon matured for two thirds in once-used barriques and the rest in barrels of third and fourth fill. The vineyard is planted on the small island of Santa Cristina. This little island appears to provide a specifically favourable habitat for Merlot, as there is a good amount of clay in the subsoil and the marine breezes keep the vineyard’s microclimate relatively cool even during hot summers. But most importantly, it appears that this is a specific biotype of Merlot that has adapted over the years to its unique environment and now looks different than regular Merlot and its wines are also different. Venissa is currently studying this particular type of Merlot in-depth so as to learn more about it in the years to come. Drinking window: 2024-2028.    


Vinisola is another of my most exciting winery discoveries of the last ten years. It is  a story of passion: passion for wines and for Pantelleria, a volcanic island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea between Sicily and Africa, the kingdom of Zibibbo. Francesco Rizzo, after years spent working in finance in an international group, returned to his family’s island and with oenologist Antonio D’Aietti (40 vintages on the island) and four other Pantelleria friends founded Vinisola in 2010. Vinisola intends to contribute to the valorisation of the island’s fruit and wine-making tradition through the on-site production and distribution of products derived from the Zibibbo grape. The estate’s own Zibibbo vines have an average age of 70 years, but other Pantelleria farmers’ Zibibbo grapes are also accepted. Truly a great range of wines here, from sparkling to Passito wines.

Vinisola 2023 Pantelleria Bianco Frizzante Amanolibera          92

Good straw colour. Fresh saline and energetic, this clean bubbly speaks of apples, white and yellow flowers and is at once refreshing and filling. Long and layered on the bright finish, with touch of honey lingering in the background. Drinking window: 2024-2025.

Vinisola 2022 Pantelleria Bianco Zefiro                 91

Pale straw colour. Mineral minty apple and pear are complicated by balsamic herb notes. Fresh and crisp, with a nice stoniness giving it a stroing backbone so it can stand up to more than simple seafood dishes. Lovely. Drinking window: 2024-2026.

Vinisola 2023 Pantelleria Moscato Spumante Demi Sec Shalai   94

Bright golden-tinged straw yellow. Ripe sweet orchard fruit and vanilla on the nose and in the mouth. Creamy and ripe yet lifted, with even better precision and energy than is usual for this wine. Outstanding demi-sec bubbly that is not especially sweet: it will prove evry versatile at the dining table, not just with almond cookies and biscotti in general, with fruit salads, desserts such as millefoglie and fruit cakes, but also savoury shellfish dishes and cheese. Strikes me as the best bottle of Shalai I have had in some time. Drinking window: 2024-2026.

Vinisola 2017 Passito di Pantelleria Arbaria                95

Luminous golden yellow. Honey, dates, figs macerated in honey, and tropical fruit on the rich but also very refined nose. Then refined in the mouth too, with suave flavours of fresh tropical fruit and raisins complemented by hints of vanilla and other sweet spices. Very well balanced and luscious but light on its feet, this is a marvelous sweet wine of which you will finish the half bottle of in no time. Drinking window: 2024-2030


Cantina VIKEVIKE was founded in 2015 by Simone Sedilesu who wanted to make more elegant and ageworthy wines but always respectful of their terroir. Born in 1991, with a degree in viticulture and oenology, and experiences in the family cellar (Cantina Giuseppe Sedilesu) and abroad, he then rented 2 hectares+ vineyard and began making his own wine. The first vintage (2015) gave 3000 bottles, a production that has expanded to the current 25,000 bottles/year. He makes wines only from single crus or Ghirade, because each Ghirada has its own special features. About 95% of Vike Vike’s wines are Cannonau and 5% Granazza! The motto of the cellar is: Land, Grapes and Hands.

VIKE VIKE 2023 Granazza Barbagia Bianco                     92

Luminous golden yellow. Fresh citrus and herbs on the minty nose. Then similarly minty and juicy orchard fruit flavours in the mouth, finishing long and crisp. Lovely wine. Made from a selection of Granatza vines (on average fifty years old) planted all over the Mamojada territory and aged for less than a year in 25 hL used oak barrels to add complexity. Drinking window: 2024-2026.

VIKE VIKE 2021 Barbagia Rosso Ghirada Gurguruò              93

Vivid red colour. Inviting aromas and flavours of red berries and spices. This medium bodied red is quite tangy and penetrating today with fresh abut harmonious acidity that avoids coming off as hard. Finishes long with youthful tannins and outstanding length. From a thirty years old vineyard planted at 750 meters above sea level, the grapes (50% whole bunches) were fermented with indigenous yeasts only in 50 hL trunco-conical oak barrels; the wine was aged eighteen months in third- and fourth-fill 500 liters barrels. Lovely stuff, but less than 2000 bottles made, in real Micro Mega Wines style. Drinking window: 2026-2032.

VIKE VIKE 2021 Barbagia Rosso Ghirada Fittiloghe                      93

Saturated pale red-ruby. Wild aromas of fresh citrus fruit, raspberry, red cherry, truffle and wild herbs. Wonderfully dense and concentrated, showcasing compelling inner-mouth flavours of lively red fruits, citrus peel, botanicals and sweet spices. Finishes very long and fresh, with minty and mineral nuances. The 2021 vintage is a very strong in Mamojada and wines like this showcase why. Nicely done. Made from roughly fifteen years old vines with indigenous yeasts only, this is another Cannonau wine from the Mamojada area that is purposely made in a refined, more approachable style, which is the Vike Vike mantra. It is also yet another excellent wine made with grapes grown in the southern subzone of Mamojada. Drinking window: 2026-2032.

VIKE VIKE 2021 Barbagia Rosso Ghirada Istevene          94

Good full red. Sexy nose of red cherry, raspberry, violet and a whiff of honey. Then more herbal and less fruity in the mouth, with flavours of botanicals, beeswax and candied rose dominating the clean red fruit. Finishes juicy and sweet with lovely elegance and energy with palate-coating but polished tannins and no hardness. This taut, compact Cannonau wine really lingers on the rising finish. From 105 years old vines planted at 750 meters above sea level, 100% whole bunches, indigenous yeasts only and eighteen months in 500 liters barrels tell an important part of this wine’s story Drinking window: 2027-2034.

Vinzas Artas.

A small family winery located in Mamoiada in central Sardinia, it produces classic wines from the area, mainly Cannonau, and Granatza, organically grown. As a boy, Giorgio (Gaia) worked in the family vineyard (Cannonau for strictly family consumption), but from 2003-2009 he worked at a renowned winery in the area, gaining experience in the vineyard and in the cellar. This encouraged him to replant the family vineyards and in 2016 he started bottling Nigheddu red wine. In 2019, he buys an almost 100-year-old vineyard adjacent to one of the vineyards owned by Piercarlo Sotgiu, who owns a planting company but is also fascinated by viticulture. In 2021 Giorgio and Piercarlo founded the new Società Agricola Vinzas Artas S.s.- Vignaioli in Mamoiada.

Vinzas Artas 2023 Granatza Barbagia Bianco             93

Bright deep straw yellow. Very intense, lemony and peach aromas and flavours are pure and fresh. A hint of tangerine oil and of rock candy emerge on and linger long on the juicy, complex, tactile finish. Vinified on the lees and in stainless steel tank.   I like this: the 2022 strikes me as having been maybe a little deeper, but perhaps was also less fresh. Brothers Giorgio and Piercarlo Gaia farm about five hectares of vineyards, all between the altitudes of 650 to 850 meters; they source their Granatza grapes from about one hectare of rouhgly seven years old vines an d many other older vineyards in the region. Drinking window: 2024-2026.

Vinzas Artas 2021 Barbagia Rosso Nigheddu                92

Full bright pale ruby. Tangy aromas of red cherry, blueberry, violet, minerals and exotic spices, lifted by a citrussy freshness. Offers lovely creamy sweetness and pliancy in the mouth but also shows excellent clarity of flavour and a penetrating quality to its berry and cherry flavours. Firm youthfully chewy tannins nicely frame the sweet red fruit on the long close. The 2021 Nigheddu clocks in at less than 13.5% alcohol, but this is not surprising as Vinzas Artas is a producer known for wanting to make easier-drinking, fresher wines and who tends to pick slightly earlier than others. This is neither a Ghirada wine, nor neither is it made with grapes from one specific sub-zone; rather, it blends grapes from many different areas to make the best entry-level wine possible. Drinking window: 2026-2030.

Vinzas Artas 202 Barbagia Rosso Ghirada Sa Lahana        93

Medium red-ruby: not too dark. Then creamy, intense, dense and aromatic, nicely layered and offering high-toned Porty aromas and flavours of red cherry jam and spices. The finish is long and luscious but boasts enough lively acidity not to come across as heavy or chunky. At Vinzas Artas, they make wines from two different ghiradas: this one, and the Garaunele, are both amongst the best of them all. Sa Lahana is the highest-altitude parcel of the two in which they grow Cannonau (at 750 meters above sea level). South-facing, it is planted to very old vines. Drinking window: 2026-2030.

Vinzas Artas 2021 Barbagia Rosso Ghirada Garaunele           91                                                                      

Deep red. Citrus peel and orange juice nuances complement aromas and flavours of  herbs and red cherry. Long but quite tannic on the finish, which will have you scrambling for food. The ghirada is located in the northeast subzone which gives well-balanced wines that are a little less octane-rich than many other local Cannonau wines. The vineyard itself looks west and is a very windy site, so there’s not much disease pressure to speak of here. Planted in 2015 at 650 meters above sea level, the Cannonau grapes from this famous, quality site usually gives very structured, bigger wines that need cellaring. Drinking window: 2027-2034.

Vinzas Artas 2020 Barbagia Rosso Ghirada Garaunele 1920      93

Medium bright red. Musky aromas of redcurrant, dark plum, faded rose, cocoa, flint and nutty oak. Much richer and riper in texture than the regular Garaunele, this is an extremely complex Cannonau wine that in this vintage is especially fresh and elegant, boasting almost Rayas-like nuances. The aftertaste is extremely long, mouthcoating and dense. The Garaunele 1920, made from more than 100 years old bushvines, is once again a knockout, but I wonder if they harvested a hair too soon, because the wine is certainly fresh but with an underlying herbal nuance that left me wondering. Try cellaring and see what happens. Drinking window: 2027-2033.



Ian D'Agata

Editor-in-Chief of Terroir Sense Wine Review
President of Terroir Sense Academy
Vice President of Association Internationale des Terroirs
Chief Scientific Officer of TasteSpirit

Ian D’Agata has been writing and educating about wines for over thirty years. Internationally recognized as an distinguished expert, critic and writer on many wine regions, his two most recent, award winning books Native Wine Grapes of Italy and Italy's Native Wine Grape Terroirs (both published by University of California Press) are widely viewed as the "state of the art" textbooks on the subject. The former book won the Louis Roederer International Wine Awards Book of the Year in 2015 and was ranked as the top wine books of the year for the Los Angeles Times, the Financial Times and the New York Times, while the latter was named among the best wine books of the year by Food & Wine Magazine and the NY Times.

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Ian D'Agata