Oz Clarke’s notes on Tuscany’s Banfi Estate

Oz recently hosted a fantastic virtual Tuscan tasting with Jgor Marini from Castello Banfi to taste three of their delicious wines.  You can read Oz’ tasting notes below.

I’ve always thought that Tuscany, with its mountains and meadows, its villas and valleys and its fabulous sun-soaked coast, deserved a really good, refreshing white to go with the view. Well, now it’s got one – Vermentino. This is a home-grown Mediterranean grape that’s become the hottest ‘cool’ item in Tuscan drink. This version mixes grapes from the coast with grapes from Montalcino and is an absolute delight – full and waxy, but packed with unexpected, appetising green flavours like green fig and green olive, some lemon blossom scent, and, maybe, just a whiff of the salt sea air.

Mr Wheeler Wine | £15.50

The first thing that delighted me here was the colour – it isn’t dense and deep and heavy. Instead, it has the bright, appetising, easy-going red of true Sangiovese. And the wine isn’t heavy to drink, either. There’s just enough Sangiovese tannic bitterness (it’s a mouthwatering bitterness, like black plum skins and tomato skins chewed up together). That ripe tomato character also mixes with the red cherry and plum flesh fruit, adding a delightful savoury, teasing acidity, and creating a really good young juicy style.

Mr Wheeler Wine | £20.95

I used to regard Banfi as as a totally Tuscan operation, but they’ve been in Piedmont almost as long as they’ve been in Tuscany. Piedmont is where they make their very good fizz, but they also dabble in reds, and this is a rare but delicious example. Albarossa is a Barbera and semi-Nebbiolo cross created in 1938 and then largely forgotten. Banfi are one of a tiny handful of producers to champion the variety, and I’m glad they do because this wine is a smasher – a dark, luminous purple/blood red, fistfuls of black Rosa plum, cherry and pear flesh fruit, a touch of dry chocolate, and then a mouthwatering acid (that’s the Barbera) – that manages to marry aromatic fresh-squeezed orange juice with the heady rasp of jalapeno pepper.  Beat that.

Mr Wheeler Wine | £18.75

They were joined on screen by Domenico Francone, head chef at Banfi’s Michelin-starred restaurant, who created and utterly delicious spaghettoni dish using produce from the Banfi estate.  You too can recreate this using the recipe card below.

You can still buy a food and wine pack including the trio of wines listed above as well as the pasta and olive oil from Mr Wheeler by clicking here. A great Christmas pressie for the wine-lover in your life?