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Rediscovering 10 Captivating Italian Wines for home drinking

by Katarina Polonsky

Italy is the country that taught me to love wine. I was lucky enough to do my Erasmus there, studying in Venice for a year in 2009. Walking through the narrow streets of that beautiful mystical city, each week would find me being lured in by each wonderful wine bar. Slowly, over the year, I discovered Italy’s hidden gems. 

Two of these, I have been utterly delighted to re-discover whilst living here in Spain. These are fantastic wines that truly showcase the best of Italy. Read on to discover more.

Baglio Diar

Baglio Diar is a homegrown winery from the Di Girolamo family. A relatively new family to the world of winemaking, having started in the 1950s, they follow carefully certified organic viticulture practices and aim to respect the land as much as possible when creating their delicious wines. They focus on using native vines and each bottle is exclusively designed to depict classical Sicilian characters and phrases like Pirandello and Verga.

They are located in Marsala, in Sicily, which is actually where my favourite winery ever is based. Sicily has seriously incredible wines that are well worth trying. Who knows why they’re so incredible – it might be the amazing climate or the marine sea breeze. Either way, the Di Girolamo family have been scaling their wine production business in recent years thanks to their stellar wines that seem to keep accumulating enviable ratings.

Their Wines

We tried all of their wines over the course of a month, having ordered them to our home in Spain.


This delightful, delicate yet juicy wine made 100% from the Grillo grape varietal (which I’d never tried before) comes from sandy soil in a mediterranean climate with mild winters and hot summers and a deliciously cooling sea breeze all year around. Fermented for 15 days, it stays into stainless steel tanks for 3 months and ages in the bottle for a month.

Pale yellow colour, its aromas gave tropical fruits like yellow melon and ripe pineapple along with aromatic notes of dill and rosemary. Light-bodied, with crisp acidity, it offered a lovely flinty taste and notes of apricot and orange zest. This would be amazing with fish and seafood. Selene, the name of the wine, is a character from Giovanni Verga’s  romance story where a ballet dancer has a secret relationship with the marquis Alberto Alberti.

Diar Grapes


Another unknown grape varietal, 100% Zibibbo, this wine comes from a similar terroir but tastes very different. Fermented for slightly less time, but also pale yellow in colour, Fantasia oozes with intense aromas of orange blossom and grapefruit along with a refreshing and oddly captivating scent of eucalyptus. It is light-bodied, with a delightful acidity, and notes of lychee, banana and an interesting note of oregano and sage on the finish. This would be amazing with spicy white meats like chicken or more seafood, something with a zest to it. Zibibbo comes from the Arabic Zabīb which means ‘raisin’ and relates to the sweet and aromatic taste of the famous zibibbo made in Pantelleria.


Yet another unknown grape varietal, this is a delightful wine made from Catarratto. Interestingly, Catarratto is one of the oldest Italian grapes and the most planted native one in Sicily. Aged in oak barrels, this white wine has a golden tint to its otherwise pale yellow colour. The oak gives it wonderful aromas of dry figs with hints of anise and vanilla. Full-bodied, rich, and luscious, it has an excellent minerality with a solid acidity. The hints of candied, jammy lemon, ripe apricot, and toasted hazelnut were lovely. This is definitely a wine for grilled and roasted meats, fish, and stronger-tasting dishes. Cheese would work well here. 

Diar Barrell


Made from Nero d’Avola, one of my favourite grapes, this one is aged in the bottle for at least 2 months. Medium deep ruby in colour, its nose gave us blackberry and dry plum with flavours of vanilla and cloves. Medium-bodied, it had rounded tannins and strong acidity. We got notes of black cherry and, interestingly enough, blueberry. There were also subtle notes of hazelnut and cedar. This wine would be amazing with grilled red meat but also some grilled seafood would work well. Nero d’Avola is also known as Calabrese, from the Sicilian slang CalaulisiCala is a synonym of the Sicilian word rracina (Uva).  Aulisi instead comes from the Sicilian Aula (Avola). Some nerding out for you linguists there. 


This 100% Perricone grape varietal comes from clay soil and is made with malolactic fermentation. The wine stays for 6 months in small French oak barrels before transferring to stainless steel tanks until bottling time. Deep ruby in colour, Velata gave aromas of blackberry and licorice with a delightful note of English black tea, cacao, and toasted hazelnut. Full bodied, it has pertinent tannins and a vibrant acidity.

Diar Wines

On the palate, we got flavours of black cherry, and cinnamon, with unexpected notes of peanuts and coffee. The finish was delightfully long. This would be ideal with grilled meats and cheeses. I can imagine having a stew with this, some olives, and Mediterranean herbs. Lovely, earthy food with this welcoming wine. Perricone used to be the most planted red grape in the provinces of Palermo and Trapani. It’s still called Pignatello there.


The first blend of the family, this 85% and 15% Chardonnay is a lighter wine, pale yellow in colour with an almost green and apple-like tinge. Diornu Bianco gave aromas of white fruits like ripe green apples and also had fennel, mint and jasmine. Light-bodied, it had a crisp acidity, a hint of lime, and a lovely salty saline finish. This is a classic seafood wine though white meat would work too or a light cheese. Diornu in Sicilian slang means “in the daytime” – just the time you would want to drink this lovely, light wine. 


Another blend, but this time red, of 55% Merlot and 45% Syrah. Pale ruby in colour with a violet rim, showing off its youthful age, Disira rosso has a lovely scent of rose and violet with pleasant notes of raspberry and blackcurrant. Medium bodied, it has silky tannins and excellent acidity. We tasted ripe strawberry and blackberry with subtle notes of earthy thyme and zesty black pepper. The combination was lovely, leaving a very fresh and moreish aftertaste. This is a versatile wine, which would go well with white meats as well as red, cooked with aromatic herbs. This would do well with tomato sauces and some spice. Disira in Sicilian slang means “in the evening” – the second bottle you might have after a relaxing day.

Diar Wine

Tenute Toscane

Another family run winery, the origins of this wine lie in the beautiful rolling hills of Tuscany, near to Siena, where they produce classical Chianti. The company is led by Bruna Baroncini and her nephew Samuele, who bought Poggio Il Castellare, the estate, in Montalcino in 1998. Poggio Il Castellare sits on the top of a glorious hill, surrounded by stunning vineyards.

Their estate has forty hectares of land, seven of which are dedicated to vineyards, whilst the rest go to truffle grounds, medicinal herbs, and arable land. This is a winery that aims to protect tradition and create organic wines that showcase the best of Montalcino. This estate seems to have done incredibly well in recent years, having received top ratings by Decanter Magazine.

Their wines

Passo Dei Caprioli Toscana Rosso IGT

Made in a typically Mediterranean climate from a middle hill part of the vineyard which is frequently windy, this wine has the perfect conditions to have ultra-healthy vines. The climate here is generally mild, with many sunny days which ensures a gradual and complete ripening of the grapes. Ruby red in colour with hints of violet, it has a lovely scent of ripe, juicy plum jam and sweet soft fruit. On the taste it is soft, fresh and mildly structured. This is the type of wine that would go well with Mediterranean food like vegetable-based dishes, salamis, red meat and other grilled deliciousness. 

Rosso di Montalcino DOC 2020 Tenuta Poggio Il Castellare

This wine comes from a similar terroir as the one prior, though gives a different rendition of an excellent red. Aged in oak barrels for 8-10 months, it is ruby red in colour with an elegant, delicate bouquet. We got hints of violet and floral notes. The taste was delicious, with lots of soft raspberry jam and ripe red fruit. A perfect full-bodied wine with cured meats, roast and grilled meats, and decadent starters. 

2018 Brunello Di Montalcino, Poggio Il Castellare, Tuscany

This was the most spectacular wine. Recognised as one of the most stellar wines out there, this is a must try for wine aficionados. Priced slightly higher than the other two, the grapes are hand harvested and aged in oak barrels for 30 months and then a further 20 months in French barriques. It has another 4 months in the bottle before being released. Yet it’s extremely approachable. There is an intense bouquet of ripe cherry, strawberry and soft exotic spices yet the taste is smooth with elegant tannins.

brunello 2

This wine would be an absolute showstopper at a dinner party or more formal event. It is easily worth double the price and strikes us as exceptional value. I would easily assume I’d be paying over 100 euros per bottle for this wine. Elegant, structured, disciplined, yet juicy and soft in all the right places, it is perfect for any dinner party or foodie event. Meats, cheeses, even grilled vegetables, it can likely stand up to any food. Really a must-try for all.

With all of these delicious wines, it’s hard to decide which one we love the most. All of them were spectacular – and we will be ordering them again. Even if Spain has its own wine!

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