2014 Passito di Pantelleria Ben Ryé at The Modern Pantry, London


A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune to have lunch with José Rallo, owner of the Sicilian winery, Donnafugata at The Modern Pantry in Clerkenwell.

We finished with one of the “grandi vini” of Italy: their sweet Passito di Pantelleria Ben Ryé and a dessert of popcorn pannacotta with brown bread ice cream and a miso and orange caramel.

Wonderfully done, I loved the touch of wild fennel in the flower arrangement – this is a herb found by the sides of the road in Sicily, so very happy to see it in London (having just been in Marsala a few weeks ago). Also, the impromptu singing of Brazilian tunes by José. There is no better way to describe the wines than through song.

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Rosso di Montalcino 2013: Don’t call me baby!



I’ve never liked the term “baby Brunello” when describing Rosso di Montalcino. It has its own DOC, and the better ones are considered separate wines from the more expensive Brunello. A few of them have every right to say as they do in Dirty Dancing, Nobody puts baby in the corner!

Recently I went to Tuscany. When I got to Montalcino, I stocked up on as much Rosso di Montalcino 2013 as I could carry to the car. The Brunello Consorzio consider it a 4-star vintage for the Brunello di Montalcino. That’s not yet on the market. But what about the Rosso – and can the Rosso di Montalcino give us an idea of what it will taste like? Four bottles, in particular, stood out.

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Notes from Parma: My response to “What Food, What Wine” Competition’s Zero Score for Italy

Emilia-Romagna is strange. The train departure board could be a poster announcing a stadium tour of gastronomic rockstars – Parma, Bologna, Modena – and yet… as far as wine goes, the region is mostly known for its sweet fizzy Lambrusco.

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Top 5 Italian White Wines from Waitrose Spring Collection 2011

Here are my top 5 white Italian wines from the new Waitrose Spring Collection 2011. This year Waitrose is bang-on trend with wines everybody wants to drink right now and at fair prices. They have also sourced some new, quirky regions which are destined to be future classics. Not an easy feat for a supermarket with over 250 branches.

N.B. My system for recommending Italian wines from a supermarket is based on whether the wine has bella figura. That means it must show character, regional story and style. In other words, not turgid, non-descript industrial or bland.

Top 5 Italian White Wines for Spring from Waitrose:  Read More »

Giro d’Italia Wine Tour 2011 with Vinissima

Join me on my Wine Tour with the Giro D’Italia 2011 as the Tour races through the wine regions of Italy. At each stage, we will match the wines from the area the Tour is travelling through.

There are maps, clips of the race, wine and food and more maps. Updated throughout the day. Drop in, anytime over the next 3 weeks. Finishes Sunday May 29.

2011 Giro d’Italia – List of Stages and Quick Links to Main Posts: Read More »

The Territory is Not The Map – Italian Wine and Social Media

In photo: Laura Gray and Marco (Il Palazzone), Chiara and Christiano (Cascina Gilli, Piedmont), Vittorio (tirebouchon), Susanna Crociani (Crociani, Montepulciano – holding bottle), Tartetartin.

This year commemorates 150 years of Italian Unification. Before 1861, Italy was a collection of kingdoms rather than a modern idea of a nation. Perhaps it still is. Read More »

Marks & Spencer Barbera d’Asti

Warning: the label says Barbera d’Asti but there is nothing much Barbera nor Asti about this wine from Marks & Spencer. The natural acidity of the Barbera grape jars with the American oak (yes, I said American oak) which gives the wine as much pleasure as chewing on tin foil while watching good food being thrown away.

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