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Those that are of a certain age, remember the old student days when we would buy two litre bottles of Soave or Valpolicella, most of which was only just about drinkable. Bought more for its alcoholic content rather than its taste, back in the 1970’s and early 80’s. How things have changed, on all fronts.
Firstly, the average student these days has far greater knowledge and appreciation of wine than the majority of 50 years ago and hence far greater expectations from any bottle purchased or offered at parties. Secondly, the quality of wines such as Soave and Valpolicella has progressed in leaps and bounds in the past fifty years, led in part by consumer demand and partly from advances in technology. These wines are well worth re-discovering as there are some great examples around at very affordable prices.
The Wine Society again comes up trumps with its Italian selection chosen by the experienced buyer Sarah Knowles MW. The Society’s Exhibition Soave Classico 2021 has the stamp of approval that the wine is a classic example of its type. This wine is made by the Pieropan family which has some of the best vineyard sites and a new state-of-the-art winery. Made from 80 per cent Garganega and 20 per cent Trebbiano, this elegant white has poise, charm and grace – something that both the wines and their drinkers lacked somewhat in the 1970’s! Crisp, dry, with green apple and citrus notes and a medium-long finish. £13.95. Perfect with pasta and clams or pasta and pesto.
Onto the erstwhile student’s red choice, Valpolicella. Made mainly from the Corvina variety in vineyards close to Verona, Valpolicella Coffele 2021 again has charm and finesse. A light ruby colour belies the considerable depth of refreshing fruit flavour. Light tannins and a basket full of ripe, red cherry fruit. Appealing berry fruit nose and perfect with Italian cuisine. Wine Society £10.95
Another grape variety which is sometimes misunderstood is Pinot Grigio – Pinot Gris in France and other countries. Italian wines from this variety have become very popular in the restaurant and pub trade and sadly there are some very uninspiring examples around. But don’t think they are all the same because there are some excellent wines at still reasonable prices, often from the north regions of Italy.
Pinot Grigio Vigneti delle Dolomiti Castel Pietra 2021 is one such wine. Produced from vineyards on the slopes of the foothills of the magnificent Dolomite mountains in the far north of Italy, this is a delicate, fresh and aromatic wine with stone fruit flavours and floral aromas. £6.95 from The Wine Society which is exceptional value for such a good Pinot Grigio.
Another first-class Pinot Grigio from The Wine Society comes from the northern Friuli region, where some of the most characterful wines are made. With more body than the previous example, Fattori Friuli Pinot Grigio 2021 has a mineral touch with white peach and nectarine flavours and a citrus hint. Appealing aromas of fruit and flowers and a satisfying full finish. More great value at £8.95.


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