The surprising wines of Inama (photo by Renee Wilmeth for Wine and Whiskey Globe)

When we travel to Italy, tasting with both known and new-to-us producers is one of the activities we enjoy most. If you’re a wine traveler, you likely have a running list of interesting producers—le aziende—you’ve read about, off-the-beaten-path family domains whose wines and winemaking philosophy you’d like to get to know.

Newly added to my list? Azienda Agricole Inama.  

These wines are exactly the kind we love to find while traveling, produced by a family with a story and a point of view. And frankly, who doesn’t love wines that “punch above their weight” when it comes to quality versus price? 

On a recent weeknight, fortified with hand sanitizer and extra wine glasses, I invited a few friends over to taste four of Inama’s best known wines from second-generation winemaker Stefano Inama including their Soave Classicos, a Bordeaux-blend, and a Carmenere, becoming a hallmark of the Colli Berici region. 

Our tasting group included intrepid wine travelers, Italian experts, and oenophiles who know a bit about what makes a quality wine. We tasted the wines on their own, then again with plates of eggplant parmesan with asiago and snap peas with olive oil, lemon and burrata. 

There were pleasant surprises, all around.

2019 Iname Vin Soave Classico DOC ($15)

Joseph Bastianich in Vino Italiano, calls Inama’s Soave “superextracted” but notes that they’re continuing to “win new fans.”  I can see why. This Italian classic gave us a modern, rich wine that we loved and that improved as it warmed up just a bit.  “It drinks like really spicy Chardonnay,” said one commenter, which was interesting because this wine is 100% Gargenega and sees no oak. Still, herbal, melon, and lemon notes on the nose brought out the sweetness of the peas and olive oil.

2017 Vigneti di Carbonare Soave Classico DOC ($27)

A terrific Soave Classico (so named because it come from the original region before the DOC was expanded), this wine is also 100% Gargenega and sees only stainless steel (for 12 months!) We would have sworn there was oak on this wine but as it warmed up, the minerality became the clear contributor to this bottle’s richness and balanced acidity. This wine was round and rich, with sweet herbal hints on the nose along with pear, pea shoots, and fennel pollen.   

2016 Bradisismo Veneto Rosso IGT  ($27)

Inama was one of the first producers in the Colli Berici to find success with Bordeaux-style blends. Something about the volcanic soils just agrees with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and, as Inama has found, Carmenere. Our panel found this blend of 70% Cabernet and 30% Carmenere impressive, with one member noting its “spectacular tannin profile” with both “sweet and fine grained tannins.” “It sings in the light bright red fruits,” added one of our party, “although it’s not a light wine; it’s very medium-bodied.” (Note: The name is hard to pronounce in the best of times. After four bottles, we found it easier. We just called it “Brad.” James Suckling called it 93 points.)

2016 Inama Carmenere Piu Veneto Rosso IGT  ($20)

If Inama has been known for anything since the 1990s, it might be the Carmenere they pioneered in Colli Berici. Unusual for wines originating here, this comprises 75% Carmenere and 25% Merlot. This wine needs a little time in the glass to open, but once it did it revealed deep fruit flavor “like a raspberry and blackberry combo.”  “It drinks like a much older wine,” someone noted, with tart cherries and red fruit still very present.

Highly affordable, these wines are worth seeking out especially if you’re vacationing at home this year instead of trekking to Italy. In the meantime, put them on your list for your next trip to the Veneto.