Feeling desperately fragile after a cocktail-soaked long weekend with Lunch Club in Berlin, I tried to appease an exasperated, eye-rolling Mrs Ray by vowing never to drink again. Wouldn’t touch a drop. As I rallied, though, and the Berliner katzenjammer slowly cleared, I pulled myself together and pointed out that there was work to do and fine Italian wine from Mr Wheeler to taste.
Mrs R is a sucker for top Italian vino so it didn’t take long for her to join me, and we had a merry couple of hours coming up with the following selection. She even made her signature pappardelle pasta with venison ragout to soak it all up, so all is well.
I’ve long enjoyed the Veneto wines of Guerrieri Rizzardi and used to drink buckets of them with my dear pa, whose favourite Italian winery it was. The 2022 Guerrieri Rizzardi Lugana (1) is as fine as ever, a blend of Trebbiano and splashes of Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco grown by Lake Garda. Steel-fermented and aged on the lees for three months, it’s delicately peach blossom-scented and mouthwateringly fresh with concentrated white stone fruit and a long creamy finish. £17.25 down from £19.95.
The 2020 Cantine di Marzo ‘Vigna Ortale’ Greco di Tufo Riserva (2) is a single vineyard wine of which fewer than 300 cases were made. The Marzo family first produced wine here in 1647 and the winery – the oldest in Campania – remains in the hands of their descendants, the di Somma family. Made from the first pressing of 100 per cent Greco, the wine is steel-fermented, aged for nine months in tank and 12 months in bottle. It’s delightfully complex, being honeyed yet salty-savoury too. I love it. £22.50 down from £24.95.
The 2020 Enzo Boglietti Barbera d’Alba (3), from truffle country in north-west Italy, is excellent value given that Enzo Boglietti is one of Piedmont’s most celebrated producers.