2016 Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti Le Orme

Seems odd that a bit of Italy that produces grapes with tannins to make stewed English tea look wimpy can also value a variety with virtually none. Sweet blackberries, toffee and an earthy stone flavour. Blood orange both in flavour and acidity. Synesthesia suggests purple and blue. It’s a strange perception but there it is. After a lot of stern tannin recently, it’s a surprisingly pleasant change for simple fresh ripe acidity to sweep clean. Roll on summer and a bowl of fresh, sun warmed tomato pasta.

13.50% alcohol. Screwcap, bravo. $20, Murphy’s direct imports gets it right now and again.

91 points.

2005 Produttori del Barbaresco Ovello Riserva

The relaxed pleasures of the Italian table perhaps touch the sublime in Piemontese inspired cooking? Fresh Tassie truffle liberally sliced over a plate of agnolotti del plin and what to drink? Undeserved spoiling in carefully sipped glasses of Produttori tradition. Great purity, freshness and ripe melting wax tannin. Head full of truffle, rose, cherry, licorice and tar perfume. Great fatty comfort cut by a tannin acid nexus like no other. A few moments of life on planet Earth which offer a very tasty connection to its best farming and cooking tradition. Even at just over ten years in the bottle under the most unreliable of closures, this Nebbiolo is only just starting to soften after a rough double decant. There’s no fat to the ripeness but there’s no green either. The acid cleans up the finish but it helps freshen the lovely mix of red fruit and darker savoury tar. Thanks, Scopri, our local Carlton Italian for birthday spoiling and the best glassware for Neb. Sitting under that huge black and white wall sized print of the Barbaresco landscape only helps the mood.

14% alcohol. Cork. $135.

95 rapturous points.

2009 Produttori del Barbaresco Montestefano Riserva

Just to make sure Nebbiolo’s over represented hereabouts, yet another. Enoteca Sileno have developed a reputation for perhaps not the thinnest of margins on wine but if you look carefully in their impressive wine fridge, you’ll notice less lauded vintages still there for about $135. Less if you buy a few and tongue in cheek ask for a discount. This Montestefano is still a craggy peak of dense stone. Very ripe red cherry, earthy tar and a bit of licorice, well, it is Neb of course. Chunks of mouth desiccating tannin and acid. Only tamed by fat and protein. Warm vintage, big hearted wine from the most stern of the Produttori’s crus. As unyielding as a 90s’ Juventus back four.

14.50% alcohol. Cork. $135.

93 four square points.

2012 Matteo Correggia Roero

As the 2016 was so good and great value, finding a few 2012s amongst the stash under the house meant another Stelvin Luxe cracked with a satisfying twist. Nebbiolo obsession fed. Much more gentle than the 16 but beautifully clean and perfumed. Pot pourri, almost musk, gentle cherry and aniseed. Fragrant but not cloying. Great balanced crunch of ripe tingly acid and fine graphite tannins. More mountain fresh than Barolo earthy. Suave you might say.

14% alcohol. Lovely screwcap. $26 from a Prince Wine Store sale.

92 elegantly poised points.

2016 Fattoria Basciano Chianti Rufina.

Far too much Italian wine recently but the craving for tannin and acidity with rich winter grub and some lucky wins at auction means no let up yet. From the same maker as the bravely commercial Il Bastardo, this is a traditional DOCG Rufina. Sangiovese with a slug of Colorino. Dark semi dried sour cherries, tobacco, licorice and some well controlled sooty oak. Really drying firm tannins and a smack of ripe acidity. Dark, serious, desiccated skin flavour and texture point toward a hot dry vintage, perhaps? Not quite the cool, red fruit calm that used to mark Rufina. Nonetheless a clean, delicious Sangio that comes into sharp focus with warming oily, cheesy pasta. E basta.

13.50% alcohol. Cork. $20 lucky win at Langton’s, don’t you dare bid on the other two bottles!

93 points.

2018 Trediberri Barbera d’Alba

Beautifully labelled with art by a local Langhe artist, one of whose prints brightens the living room wall. Couldn’t resist the photo. The wine itself opens nice and clean with very ripe blackberry, plums and burnt toffee. With a bit of air, there’s a touch of Piemontese soil and a bit more freshness. Thankfully the richness is buffed into shape by that mouthwatering Barbera acidity which is somehow folded into the finish and hides the warmth of alcohol. The lack of tannin helps keep the focus on the bright fruit and acid. Not sure you’d notice the 15% if the label were not so honest. Bit of a big fellow en ballet pointe.

15% alcohol, careful sips. Screwcap, yes! $24 from the importer’s own invitational website shop. Bargain.

91 points.

2017 Renzo Masi Il Bastardo Vino Rosso Italiano

Vino da taglio was, or maybe still is, a naughty way for higher alcohol wine from mainly Puglia and Sicily to find its way into under powered Tuscan and other northern producers’ wine. Bravo for this good Chianti Rufina producer playing with the idea and then cheekily calling it The Bastard. Seems it’s good Rufina Sangiovese “cut” with some warming Sicilian Shiraz. Whilst the thought of bastardising the purity of good Sangio is at first horrible, this turns out to be a delicious drink for not a lot of cash. Starts a bit reduced as the screwcap cracks but then opens cleanly with Sangiovese cherries and walnuts warmed by spice and darker berries. Still has that lovely pull of Chianti acid and fine tannin grabbing at some chocolate richness. If you were looking for an easy but genuine intro to Ital wine, stop here and get acquainted. Best thing is the pure Chianti accent can still be heard above the Mezzogiorno’s warm chatter.

13% alcohol. Screwcap on an Italian, bravo. $10 bargain from a Langton’s auction.

89 pizza friendly points.