What to stock: Italian wine

Edward Gerard, buying manager of wines, spirits and cigars at Harrods, talks to us about what Italian wines are currently going down well at its food hall

TELL US ABOUT HARRODS’ CURRENT ITALIAN WINE SELECTION. WHAT DOES IT INCLUDE?
Our Italian wine selection is hugely diverse, with a large majority from Tuscany and Piedmont. We also have particularly strong Brunello and Barolo ranges.

HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT SOURCING YOUR ARRAY OF ITALIAN WINES?
The majority of our wine is shipped direct from the estates. We always look to offer wines that are ready to drink, so wineries have to dig into their library stocks and release special stock for our shelves.

WHY DO YOU THINK ITALIAN WINES ARE SO REVERED AMONGST THE WINE-DRINKING GENERAL PUBLIC?
Italy and France produce more wine than any other country. It is this high volume production that allowed Italian wines to be distributed around the world, giving them high visibility in restaurants and supermarkets. This in turn led to more investment in marketing and a growing number of loyal consumers who view Italian brands and wineries as the pinnacle of quality, from single wines like Tignanello and Sassicaia to whole regions such as Chianti or Piedmont.

WHAT ARE THE LATEST TRENDS EMERGING FROM THE ITALIAN WINE SCENE?
It’s been a few years coming but I think the wines of Etna are really starting to catch the consumer’s attention. Beyond that, I believe we are about to see some long overdue recognition that there are exceptional white wines in Italy. The likes of Gaia & Rey, Beyond the Clouds and Batar deserve to be considered amongst the world’s best wines but rarely capture the headlines as they are such small productions.

WHAT LESSER-KNOWN ITALIAN WINES DO YOU THINK OUR READERS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT AND WHY?
The wines of Etna are superstars in waiting, their red grape Nerello Mascalese “nair-rello mask-ahlay-say” can produce wines as exceptional as the best Nebbiolo in Piedmont. With the calibre of winemakers in the area and the exceptional lava soils on the slopes of Etna, I think it’s only a matter of time before we see consistent critic scores in the high 90s.

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