Getting an interesting Italian grape does not mean one has to deliberately eschew the supermarket. Sometimes convenience has to win out over adventure and interest, and in fairness to these behemoths of the high street, recent years have seen plenty of change on the wine aisles, as supermarket wine buyers have tried to balance demands of price, bulk and the British palate against the need to preserve and promote the quieter, but often finer, producers and varietals. And so, nestling in amongst the bland bank of Pinot Grigio and Chianti, one can increasingly find reasonably priced Barbera D’Asti, Orvieto and Montepulciano, as well as a few more unusual blends.
Take the Monte Nobile Riserva 2005, shepherded into theUKby Guy Anderson wines and currently marketed by Tesco and retails variously at ‘full price’ and ‘half price’. For my money (which it was), the latter of these represents a genuine good value purchase (£4.99), but full price would have been a little too… full. Guy Anderson wines are an interesting outfit, based in Somerset but with a remit of bringing to the attention of British palates some of the lesser known old world wines from a range of producers of varying familiarity.
The vineyards responsible for the 80% Negroamaro and 20% Malvasia Nera that constitute this wine are based nearLeccein the Squinzano DOC inPuglia. Squinzano lies along the east coast ofPuglia, receiving the combined climate benefits of sea breeze and Maditerranean warmth. Negroamaro generally reflects this balance of heat with a sort of lilting lightness of a sea breeze that vanishes from Italian wines the further North you travel; if you are a fan of Nero d’Avola then Negroamaro is not too far removed in taste or preferred cultivation conditions. There’s enough natural fruit in Negroamaro to mean the substantial ageing has not led to a red lacking anything but alcohol and tannin, whilst the addition of Malvasia Nera provides a chewy edge. There’s almost enough body to it to stand up to a barbecue, but not quite, and perhaps it would be better set against a steak and salad. There’s also not quite enough body to tempt Brunello fans to the South, but you could do a lot worse for a crowd pleaser suiting a range of palates, without needing to resort to Chainti. Again.