For her coveted role as wine buyer for high street supermarket Waitrose, Victoria Mason focuses on sourcing wines from South Africa and Italy. Previously seeking out plants for the retailer, she made the leap to wine seamlessly thanks to her expertise in plant health, which obviously plays its part in the vineyard.
Judging Italian wines at the IWSC’s northern hemisphere tasting, Mason sampled bottles from across the country. Those from Central and Southern Italy stood out, along with wines from some very well-known regions.
From Central Italy, Mason was particularly fond of the Brunello 2016s she tasted. ‘The 2016 vintage in Montalcino really is thrilling (I think all wines were gold or silver medals), with beautiful freshness combined with Montalcino’s natural power. It’s a more elegant and perfumed vintage than 2015, perhaps,’ she said.
‘In terms of my favourite wines from the tasting, I’d pull out the Banfi, which I scored 95/100 – although, I loved the aromatic profile of the Poggio alle Mura too,’ added Mason.
She was also extremely impressed with the whites on offer, adding two Trebbiano d’Abruzzo’s to her list, a grape ‘so often written off,’ she said. ‘I found these wines, across the board, were really zesty and refreshing, often with a salty, sea breeze character. The Fattoria Colline Verdi di Costantini Antonio was a taut and linear expression, which would definitely appeal to the Chablis drinker,’ she said.
Finally, an unexpected surprise came in the form of Velenosi, Querciantica Superiore, Lacrima di Morro. ‘Lacrima is a little-known grape variety native to Marche, and this wine really delighted all of the panel on the day. It sticks in my head as we were all charmed by its perfume – it displayed aromas of violet, rose petal and Turkish Delight, with a palate of strawberries and redcurrant fruit,’ Mason said. ‘It would be delicious with Middle Eastern mezze,’ she added.
Read on to see Victoria Mason’s top eight wines from Italy from the IWSC 2021.