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Wine notes: Enjoy a splash of summer sun with these Italian wine pairings

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Our wine columnist John Kelman of Rutabaga reveals why heading south of the border into Mediterranean waters is exactly where we need to be looking for summer wines.

Plucking wines from Sicily, central Italy, the “heel” and beyond, this week’s wine wanderings see us venture over to the Mediterranean country for a splash of sun.

No, there is no Pinot Grigio to be found in this round-up, but don’t panic, we take this a chance to taste some other fantastic grape varieties available.

Within our dozen during this edition we explore some Pecorino, Barbara D’Asti, Montepuliciano D’ Abruzzo, Gavi Di Gavi and other expressions which slip off and over the tongue with ease.

John Kelman of Rutabaga

Still white and red wine are within our picks having visited sparkling in one of our earlier editions.

DOC/ DOCG is the sign of quality standards and regionality within Italy, and this week’s wines have all been sourced from Marks & Spencer, online wine specialises and local Scottish independent retailers.

And some serious cooking has been inspired by these wines, too. You’re guaranteed to love my recommendations…

Murrina, Greco Di Tufo, Southern Italy, 2019 (vegan) DOCG – 13% alc./vol.

Fantastic minerality stems from the volcanic tuff rock of the region helping to create this fresh, young wine.

Expect melon notes on the palate. With some glimmers of warmer weather, to pair, prepare thinly sliced tomato with red onion and buffalo mozzarella or burrata, add some good quality extra virgin olive oil and raspberry vinegar (try Castleton Farm’s)

£10 for a 750ml bottle from Marks and Spencer

Villa Pani, Pecorino, Terre Di Chieti, Abruzzo, Italy, 2019 (Vegan) – 12% alc./vol.

A wonderful dry wine with the statement of peach and a textured mouth feel (not to be mistaken for the cheese).

Why not pair with a simple pasta with handfuls of fresh parsley, roasted garlic butter and grated Pecorino Romano instead of parmesan.

£8 for a 750ml bottle from Marks and Spencer

Barbera D’Asti, Barbera, Piedmont, Italy, 2018, DOCG – 14% alc./vol.

A little time ageing in oak barrels creates this wine’s soft mouthfeel and notes of dark bittersweet fruits. A medium cooked thick cut of sirloin from Aberdeenshire Highland Beef with some balsamic roasted tomatoes will hit the spot. Add salad or fries, the choice is yours.

£9 for a 750ml bottle from Marks and Spencer

Casale Burgio, Syrah, Sicily, Italy, 2018 (Vegan) – 13.5% alc./vol.

These grapes are kept on the vine for longer, giving it a subtle spice and a long rounded full flavour. A little treat, create your own tartare at home with beef or tuna, and if pairing with a vegan option, look to diced cooked beetroot and dill.

£14.99 for a 750ml bottle from Virgin Wines

Patto, Nero D’Avola, Sicily, Italy, 2018 (Vegan) – 12.5% alc./vol.

This native Sicilian grape variety doesn’t disappoint. Blackberries all day long its time to get the pasta machine out and make your own and goats cheese ravioli with an arrabbiata sauce – it is sure to hit the spot. You can also grab some tasty pasta from Pasta Abz for ease.

£10.99 for a 750ml bottle from Virgin Wines

Lianto, Primitivo, Salento, Italy, 2017 – 13% alc./vol.

For those who enjoy a Zinfandel, here, we go by another name. From the heel of Italy, Pulglia, expect rich blackcurrant with a little smokiness. Pair with some braised venison and buttery mash as the summer nights chill.

£11.99 for a 750ml bottle from Virgin Wines

La Scoperta Riserva, Sangiovese/ Canaiolo, Chianti, Italy, 2016, DOCG (Vegan) – 13.5% alc./vol.

This Riserva Chianti is a go-to Tuscan wine with great heritage and familiarity. It has a slight acidity and plenty of berries. A well braised (beef, pork and venison) ragu with linguine is our perfect pairing.

£9.25 for a 750ml bottle from Woodwinters

Gregoris, Garganega, Soave, Veneto, Italy, 2018, DOC (Vegan) – 12.5% alc./vol.

A fresh and vibrant white wine produced with sustainable and organic principles boasting orchard notes on the nose. Dolelatte cheese with a pickled walnut and caramelised pear herb salad will go nicely.

£9.50 for a 750ml bottle from Woodwinters

Conviviale, Montepulciano, Abruzzo, Italy, 2018, DOC (Vegan) – 14% alc./vol.

With wild dark fruit flavours, rich tannins and 100% Montepuliciano, you won’t be disappointed on price or intensity. I’m drawn to lamb shoulder at the moment, some anchovies, olives and rosemary in your twist on Agnello Brasato.

£7.50 for a 750ml bottle from Woodwinters

Collina 21, Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon/Sangiovese, Toscana, Italy, 2014 (Vegan) – 13.5% alc./vol.

Smooth, savoury, plummy and moreish, this wine keeps giving more and more. On its own or with your choice of cheese board be sure to try Lanark, Dunsyre or Strathdon for a touch of blue.

£19 for a 750ml bottle from Rutabaga

Sarotto Bric Sassi, Cortese, Gavi, Di Gavi, Italy, 2018, DOCG – 12.5% alc./vol.

A lot of zip in this citrusy white, it is well-balanced and has more body than you would expect. Grill some plentiful, seasonal Scottish mackerel on the barbecue with some crisp green salad and enjoy.

£15 for a 750ml bottle from Rutabaga

Sartori, Corvina/ Corvinone/ Rondinella/ Oseleta, Amarone della Valpolicella, Verona, Italy, 2012, DOCG – 15.5% alc./vol.

We finish with a big hitter packed with raspberries and blackberries abound. Full bodied with good structure and long on the palate, be sure to share with friends now that we can meet up safely.

£32 for a 750ml bottle from Rutabaga


When not scribbling down wine-tasting notes, John Kelman can be found hosting virtual tastings at

For more in this series…

Wine Notes: The Spanish grape varieties Scots’ favourite destination has to offer

Wine Notes: The best Malbecs on the market to enjoy while barbecuing this summer

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