How often have I heard it said that wine tastes better in Italy or France, and drinking it here in Australia, just isn’t quite the same. It’s true of course, how could it possibly taste the same, or as good, sipping it as you are, in a snatched moment of relaxation, before chores and obligations and responsibilities come yet again.

One of the problems is that many ‘affordable’ Italian wines are made for Australian and American tastes and don’t resemble the delicious inexpensive wines found in a casual bistro or trattoria. There are many iconic and great Italian wines imported into Australia. If it’s famous, or has an acknowledged reputation, odds on, someone’s bringing it in. Authentic as these wines are of course, they aren’t necessarily authentic to my experience in Italy.

When I’m in Italy, I don’t drink these wines, and neither do the locals. When we were in Calabria recently, most of the wine we drank was homemade, from tumblers only, and was better than anything bought from a supermarket. The tumbler’s important. I still drink homemade wine in Australia out of a tumbler (or a Paris tumbler – another favourite), and it tastes better this way. In fact, don’t taste, just drink, rhapsodising over any wine whilst in a casual situation is pompous.

At the risk of generalising, Italian wines of both colours are savoury, herbal, spicy and bitter.  And it’s this to me that marks them as different – they aren’t all about sweet fruit. Food wines, for sure, but once you get used to them, just wine, ideal for sessions as they are usually lighter in alcohol and the acids and tannin ensure salivation and at first at least, restraint. You not only taste these wines, you can feel them on your palate; cool and bitter and tangy. They leave an impression, no matter how humble.

I love these wines. We don’t often drink ‘humble’ Australian wines,  but we drink plenty of Italian ones, often at the expense of a very grand bottle, stood up on the kitchen counter. There are thousands of terrific Italian wine producers, who don’t submit their wines to critics or hope for export markets. Most of them are happy to make wines for the locals, and anyone else who pops into the area. Of the thousands, we have a few choice bottles of absolutely excellent value, terrific quality and utterly authentic wines.


Giannitessari Soave 2021

Made from mostly Garganega, with Trebbiano providing aromatic lift and structure. Quite succulent for a Soave, and softer, broader than the Classico. Melon, almonds, frangipani, lemon, apricot and white peach. Very easy to drink, with a perfect tension of zing and gentle texture to match with food, or not, it really doesn’t matter. Waters Wine Co


Bartali Chianti 2021

Mostly Sangiovese with 20% Canaiolo. Classic trattoria chianti. Fragrant, medium bodied, and cool across the palate. Violets, cherry, a touch of bitter orange, redcurrant and bay leaf. Slick and angular, the fruits sweet and tangy. Very savoury, mouthwatering and lip smacking with crushed herbs, terracotta tannins and bright acidity. Perfect casual drinking. Waters Wine Co


Cantina Ca Matta Valpolicella Classico 2020

If I had to show a Valpolicella, a bottle that was a classic and typical example of the region, then it would have to be from Ca Matta. A classic blend of 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara e Rebo and at only 12.5% alcohol, this looks tastes and feels like times past. Violets, red fruits and mixed herbs make for a particularly savoury palate. With a cool easy flow until you reach the squeeze of tannins, that you can taste as much as feel. Terrific energy and brightness, and the wine’s firmness begs for porchetta. Waters Wine Co


Collemattoni Rosso di Montalcino 2020

A defining traditional Brunello producer, Collemattoni’s wines offer a magical tension of lightness and power, pure fruit and earthy/meaty/herbal savouriness. Made from 100% Sangiovese and aged for 14 months in Slovenian oak, the ageing has burred some of Sangiovese’s angular structure, without sacrificing any brightness or energy. Tangy and pure with fruits of blackberry, cassis, cherry and plum, interwoven with herbs, cured meat and smoke. Very deep and broad, it’s breadth sleek, mouthwatering and refreshing. But like so many of these wines, its the tannins that set them apart. Always present, adding shape, flavour, texture and grip. They’re fine, persistent and brutally firm. Absolute bargain, in a region known for silly prices and overblown wines made for the critics. Waters Wine Co


SHOP Italian Wines




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