Berry Bros & Rudd Italian Wine… and Competition

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Berry Bros & Rudd Italian Wine… and Competition

If you subscribe to my incessant twitter feed then you will know that Berry Bros and Rudd have a competition running at the moment to visit the Piedmont in the company of Mr Berry (David in this case) and experience first-hand what it is like to be a wine buyer. Very rarely do wine fans get the chance to see how commercial decisions are made in the wine industry and so the winner of this competition will get an exclusive behind the scenes look at the processes that influence those decisions as well as getting their lips around some very respectable Nebbiolo wines!
With my own prior involvement in the wine buying world with the Cellar Door I should not enter this competition myself but I would like to do my bit in offering the Italian wine fans that subscribe to my blog the chance to enter. For those not aware, Berry Bros and Rudd are the UK’s most famous wine distributor, holding swathes of underground cellars that run under London like the Bat Cave. This is a really great opportunity to be shown the Piedmont led by the expert hand of David Berry. If you’re interested in entering this competition you will need to create a short film that explains why you, above all YOU, should be the worthy winner of this prize. To enter – click this link – Berry Bros and Rudd Competition
Now thenIf the Italian wines I received from Berry’s on Friday are anything to go by, these guys have no problem in distinguishing quality Italian wines. This Sunday I popped the cork on 6 Italian wines from their range, 3 Sangiovese, 2 Nebbiolo and a Merlot. All these wines are between £10-£20 and many of them from small, almost obscure producers. Some of these bottlings are rare indeed with only 5-6000 bottles produced a year. So, from left to right we have… *deep breath*

  • Rosso di Montalcino, Campi di Fonterenza 2007
  • Langhe Nebbiolo DOC, Az. Agr. Cascina Fontana 2008
  • Morellino di Scansano DOCG, Az. Agr. Poggio Nibbiale 2008
  • Montefalco Rosso, ‘Sololoro‘, Az. Agr. Fontecolle 2006
  • Merlot DOC, Colli Orientali del Friuli, Canus 2006
  • Nebbiolo d’Alba, Cornarea 2007

I wasn’t really expecting Italian wines from BBR to be that special, if you look at the BBR product range it appears that Italy is something of an after-thought. The BBR website currently sells 3193 French wines vs. 161 Italian. Of course, Berry’s has a tradition of bringing French wine to our UK shores but even still 1:20 is a rather paltry figure. It was for this reason that I was expecting any Italian wines from Berry’s to be a) predictable – (a case of Tignanello, top Barolo and possibly a Taurasi or two) and b) French-styled. I was wrong on both counts. These wines appear to be styled in the Italian tradition for each region. Apart from the Merlot, which although tasty I am still nasally baffled by, all these wines show their region/grape to their fullest potential and are classically Italian wines. It appears BBR have shifted gear in the last few years regarding their Italian offering and finally we have a place to go for Scansano, and good loyal Scansano at that.

Rosso di Montalcino, Campi di Fonterenza 2007

Full ruby red from centre to shallow this wine offers a generous and pronounced, spicy nose with hints of tomato and earth. A full, bold wine that is well-balanced and solid from beginning to end. A good strong example of Rosso di Montalcino from a blockbuster Tuscan vintage. An organic wine and one appreciated bottle of just 3880 produced in 2007. 90 Points – £27.00

Langhe Nebbiolo, Az. Agr. Cascina Fontana 2008

My favourite wine. Rose petal, marzipan and raspberry nose that is so beautiful it could be perfume. Smooth and round with the nose profile continuing to the palate with added custard-like notes. The wine holds the acidity, alcohol and tannins in perfect balance. A great nebbiolo wine to drink young, a taste profile almost on par with Barolo, superb. 92 Points – £20

Morellino di Scansano, Poggio Nibbiale 2008

My pal and yours, Morellino di Scansano, using the same grapes as Chianti in the same Italian county yet cheaper and beating the pants off it every day of the week.

Ruby red to the rim with a few left-field notes of meat fat but the consistent profile of this wine is certainly cherry, vanilla and a strong overriding sense of a strawberry ice lolly. Simply a tasty, well-balanced wine, mid-bodied, that does a good job of showcasing the many positives of Morellino di Scansano. Endlessly drinkable and good example; fair price. 90 Points – £15

Montefalco Rosso, ‘Sololoro‘, Fontecolle 2006

See Montefalco, read “tannic“. Even with just 15% Sagrantino in the blend this interesting Rosso is still too heavy on the tannins, at least for solo drinking. Pair it up with a beefy steak and you could still make a pleasant evening.

Silky, plump and delicious… to look at. This wine needs more time. Dried dark fruits and olive on the nose with the oak still holding court this wine is both high in acid and tannins. For my money this wine will be fantastic in a few years or decant for several hours and this may well do the trick. Big, big serious wine. 89 Points – £19

Merlot DOC, Colli Orientali del Friuli, Canus 2006

Poor old Canus, sat amongst the Sangiovese and Nebbiolo wines perhaps the odds were always stacked against it. A beautifully presented bottle with an interesting story to tell did not save the “dog” wine (what my drinking companions nicknamed this wine) from the bottom spot and lowest mark of the afternoon. Much like people with a fat face who wear FatFace this self styled “canus” got a few pity points but lets face it, it’s the loser in the pack. Italy can do Merlot, Colli Orientali del Friuli can do Merlot, maybe the moon was in the wrong house… who knows *sigh*

Ruby red with a pungunt nose that alternated between spicy, cinnamon-esque fruit with sprinkled dark chocolate… and drains. Licorice and dark fruit flavours on the palate saved the wine a touch but a dubious quick finish put it back in the dog house. 86 Points – £15
Side Competition: Does Canus mean “grey” or “dog”? Winner gets that smug feeling you get from being right.
Nebbiolo d’Alba, Cornarea 2007
Everyone else’s favourite wine but my own. There was no doubt that the two Nebbiolo/Piedmont wines stole the show but the winner for me was the Langhe, everyone else prefers the bottling from Cornarea.

A medium-bodied, aromatically-forward good example of Nebbiolo, with roses and jammy strawberries on the nose. The palate is glossy and smooth with a good balance. In my opinion this is a nice, drinkable wine but without the added complexity and intrigue of the first Nebbiolo wine. 87 Points – £16.00

Leave a Comment
If you’ve tried any of these wines or enter this competition, post a link here and let us know about it. Good Luck and Happy tasting.

Most Read Blog Posts – May 2011

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Moonkin says:

    You will have to take photos of flowers for every single wine review now. Very pretty.

    We here are Canadian, otherwise seems like a cool competition.

  2. Simon Hill says:

    Thanks for letting us know about the competition. I would like to win this competition for my girlfriend. An insider's view of buying great wine, Italy, and my best girl with me to share the experience–what else can I want?

  3. Great! Let me know if you win!

  4. Lucas says:

    We didn't realise Merlot was grown in Italy at all. I have subscribed to your blog as my ignorance of Italian wine is quite bad.

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