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Native Italian wines to provide a break from the norm, one for less than €8

John Wilson: Timorasso has become something of a cult favourite in Italy

Italy, with its more than 350 authorised grape varieties, provides a fertile hunting ground for those tiring of the same few grapes planted all over the world. Recently, I witnessed the rebirth of an Italian grape variety on a trip to the southeastern corner of Piemonte known as Colli Tortonesi. Some 34 years ago, a producer by the name of Walter Massa discovered the last few remaining vines of an ancient local white variety called timorasso.

Timorasso doesn’t seem the most promising grape variety at first glance, with a combination of naturally high alcohol, high acidity and some tannins too. It will always strike a different note when tasted alongside standard white wines. The fact that some are only really approachable with a few years’ bottle age might make it seem even less commercial. Apparently, it isn’t easy to grow either.

However, from a few acres, Colli Tortonesi, now called Derthona, Tortona’s Roman name, has more than 60 growers (including some from neighbouring Barolo) and has become something of a cult wine in Italy. I featured the excellent Coppi Vigna Marina Timorasso Colli 2020 as one of my favourite wines of last year, and it is certainly worth seeking out. There are only a few timorasso available here for the moment, so I include a few other native Italian wines.

The Verdicchio is from the Marche to the east of Rome. The beautiful Falanghina is from Campania, the volcanic region surrounding the city of Naples, and the Terrre Nere is made from grapes grown on the slopes of Mount Etna.


Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 2023, Marches

12.5%, €7.69

A decent, light, easy-drinking white wine with good acidity and soft rounded fruits.

From Aldi

Falanghina ‘Insania’ 2022 Cantina Bambinuto

13.5%, €24

Fine, firm, crisp green fruits with a distinctive saline note and plenty of refreshing acidity. Opens out beautifully. Spaghetti with clams or other lighter seafood.

From Sheridan’s Cheesemongers; Nelly’s, D9; Redmonds, D6W; The Store Next Door, Westport

Oltretorrente Derthona Colli Tortonesi Timorasso 2021

14.5%, €36

Rich, broad and textured with buttery notes, almonds, and a brisk acidity. Try it with grilled salmon.

From Green Man Wines, D6W; 64wine, Glasthule

Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Bianco 2022

12.5%, €35

Refined and elegant with vivid fresh acidity, fresh herbs and a crisp dry finish.

From 64 Wine, Glasthule; Baggot Street Wines; Café Rua, Mitchell & Sons, Glasthule & IFSC; Deveney’s, D14