January 2011 archives

Go a little crazy Arneis

In local Langhe-Piedmont dialect, the name of the white grape Arneis means “crazy, weird, introverted, whimsical, bizarre”. But what’s really crazy here is that Arneis is not more well-known as a white wine. In a similar way to Viognier, its individuality was once blended away into red wines and production was limited to a small […]

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 […]

Vermentino from Liguria by Laura Aschero

Recently I caught up with Colin Thorne, manager at the new wine tasting shop, Vagabond Wines in Fulham Broadway, London. There you’ll find 100 wines to choose from, starting at £1 a taste. We decided upon the amazing Vermentino by Laura Aschero from the Liguria region in Italy, which can be found on the coast […]

The Best (Easy) Map of Italian Wine Regions and Varieties

If you love maps, you’ll find Italian wine a never-ending cartographical adventure. Next to actually visiting the region (and, of course, enjoying the wine) a map of Italy is one of the best ways to understand this complex wine country. Here is one of the best maps I have found, also outlining the major grape […]

Take a bite: Aglianico del Vulture DOC

Aglianico del Vulture dei Feudi di San Gregorio 2007 The first taste of Aglianico is like a volcanic eruption in rewind: a hundred blasts, shreds of mineral rock followed by a fierce lava cooling down into black smoke puffing back into the top of the mountain, overgrown with herbs, cool as graphite and purring, velvet […]

Spectacular Mount Etna DOC

This is what gives Mount Etna DOC wines their character. Last night, Mount Etna erupted for 2 hours. Mount Etna is Europe’s most active volcano, replenishing the region’s soil every few years with hot lava music. The black volcanic soil filters the strong flavours of grapes ripened under the Sicilian sun. This makes the wines […]

How to buy an Italian wine in a supermarket (just from the label)

Ciao Ragazzi, A friend asked me a very good question: How do I choose an Italian wine when I am in a supermarket if I have never tasted it before? Here I give a very basic guide to Italian Wine Labels and some of the difficulties you may encounter… tasting a white wine from Umbria […]

How to do the new austere: a baby Barbaresco

La Maggiorina Le Piane 2009 (Colline Novaresi DOC, Piedmont) from Lea & Sandeman, £12.95 pb This is how to do the new austere well: with a light, baby Barbaresco style wine from a near-abandoned region in Piedmont. Beautiful perfumes and tight tannins somehow make austere seem rich. A fabulous wine yet with an honest country heart: […]

Changes in Rosso di Montalcino DOC race ahead

The red colour of Italian cars is not just any red. It comes from a long history of rules, mostly developed between the World Wars, when car racing began. Different countries were assigned different colours: blue for French cars, white for German cars and, of course, British cars were racing green. Red was assigned for […]

Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG vs European Union

Some headache! The morning after the party to celebrate 30 years of DOCG status in the ancient Tuscan town of Montepulciano, winemakers were making their way to Brussels to confront the European Union’s decision to change Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG to simple “Montepulciano”. What’s the problem? Montepulciano has 6 syllables already, that is enough […]

The One That Got Away

This wine had the place smelling like Christmas for a week. Can I give you a tasting note from broken bottle? At around £120 – £140 per bottle, I have to at least try… I was down on my hands and knees licking the floor. Risking shards of glass in my tongue just to have […]

Lunch with the Marchesi de Frescobaldi at new Harrods Wine Department

Being a family with a well-recorded ancient past must not always be pleasant, but at least, like old photos or tear-stained letters, the evidence does not require many words. True, such things as archives, documentaries, and the love and rejection which is called fashion can cause trouble over the years. And it definitely has for […]

Last of the True Romantics: Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio DOC

Often my friend from Rome, perhaps while we are walking down the street to the supermarket on a grey Saturday morning, will abruptly stop, hold his hand over his heart, grab my elbow to jolt me back and say with eyes wide open in shock, “Did you see THAT? That’s IT! I AM IN LOVE!” Meanwhile, […]

Salice Salentino Riserva 2005

Last night I tasted the Salice Salentino 2005 Riserva by the Candido family in Puglia. Salice Salentino is the name of a style of wine made from the Italian grape, Negroamaro, found on the Salentino plain located in Puglia, the heel of the “boot” of Italy. As Nabokov puts it, “This is the whole of the […]

Sicilian, Sartorial, Sensual: Planeta Dinner, W1

Sitting at dinner with Francesca Planeta, it did not surprise me when she told me her wine had run out at Milan Fashion Week. I know from experience, these wines are seriously loved by my friends in the fashion industry. But what does come as a surprise is to learn Planeta has only been making wines in […]

The Self-Assembler: Hofstätter Pinot Bianco, Alto Adige

Alongside a glass of champagne or a cab ride in the rain, a good bottle of wine is one of life’s affordable luxuries. Yet low-key, easy luxury is the most difficult thing to achieve; partly because it involves an element of effortlessness.

dark sunglasses required: sexy Sicilian wine

There’s a stuffy image to the wine industry. It’s where middle-aged men with cigars who imagine themselves out every night patting strippers on the bum between glugs of Bordeaux as they discuss wine like stock prices. Sicilian wines are not for them. There’s also the people who go to the supermarket on the way home […]

Amarone: this is not a love song

If logic applied, I would not love Amarone della Valpolicella. To say it’s a big style of red is an understatement; it’s dramatic, high in alcohol and generally quite expensive. It has been said, Amarone “is seductive, sexy, confounding… an aphrodisiac”. Naturally, in the face of slavish devotion, I tasted it many times with regulation thin […]

Controversial Freisa: why this is an important wine variety

“They can be fussy, unreconstructed; most of them don’t want to go along to get along. They have an attitude, an edge.” – Randall Grahm, Preface to Wines of Italy, Been Doon So Long: A Randall Grahm Vinthology There comes an evolution in the taste buds when tasting wine and that can be summed up in […]

What is “vino da meditazione”?

I love reading wine tasting notes in Italian. I always want to sing it back. For example, What is a vino da meditazione? It’s an intriguing term often seen in Italian wine notes. It looks like the word “meditation”, but it’s not quite. Coined by famous Italian gastronome, Luigi Veronelli, meditazione is often used to describe sweet passito wines […]