Two wines for you to consider that surprised Simon when he tasted them last week...these are remarkably well-priced and possess a certain quality that is uncommon to most at this level and certainly from this origin.
2018 ‘Libiam’, Lugana, La Rifra at £60 per 6 bottle case in bond
2018 ‘Il Foyer’, San Martino, La Rifra at £80 per 6 bottle case in bond
Founded in the 1970s, La Rifra is a small winery located in the hills around Lake Garda in Veneto. Their principal wines are from Lugana, the region that stretches along the border between Lombardy and Veneto. Apart from growing a range of ubiquitous European varieties (Cabernet, Merlot and Chardonnay), they produce wines from more interesting indigenous varietals such as Trebbiano di Lugana, also known as Torbiano – this is a clone of Verdicchio, the variety which is more common to the Marche. They also grow Tocai Friulano, which we find more commonly in the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia towards the Austrian border.
The two wines mentioned above showcase each of these indigenous varieties. The ‘Libiam’, a name from an old Italian word meaning to drink, related to the English ‘libate’ or ‘libation’, is made from 100% Torbiano. Pale in the glass it offers fragrant scents, with a zesty lemony note. The palate is characterised by a fresh, mouth-watering fruit, which captures notes of juicy peach and tangy citrus fruit. There is a softness to the texture of this wine and more generous ripe fruit exuberance that is so often lacking in wines of this level. Not overly zingy, nor lacking in freshness, the fruit here shows fine purity and a surprising persistence that you might not expect of a fresh, appealing, unoaked Italian white such as this. Something of a standout for its level – showing superbly now.
The ‘Il Foyer’ is made from Tocai Friulano and comes from a small appellation called San Martino della Battaglia. The same freshness and purity are on show, though this wine has rounder, more opulent fruit with notes of apricot and white peach. There is almost a Viognier-like creamy touch to this example and it possesses a similar viscous texture to that variety too. What impresses most is that it retains a terrific note of mineral-infused acidity, which really comes through on the finish lending verve and persistence. The Il Foyer has the potential to hold in bottle for a couple of years.
It might be easy to overdo the plaudits for this duo from La Rifra, but each has that uncanny ability to show more concentration when others in a similar category tend to fall away. These aren’t wines for the cellar, more wines for the fridge...both wines will be available for delivery from mid-September.
If, like Simon, you often find yourself looking for interesting, not bank-breaking whites for more everyday drinking or casual entertaining, with or without food, these two are well-positioned to solve the problem!
Please let us know of your interest.