Riccardo prosecco on a hot Sunday afternoon

Sometimes style does count over substance. I went to a new supper club not long ago and while the food was serviceable, it was really the setting and  atmosphere that bowled me over. It was the Old Hat Supper Club, a new one recently set up in Islington and I was there as a guest of Riccardo prosecco. Riccardo had invited me and a few of my foodie friends to sample their wares in a supper club setting. Riccardo prosecco is launching here in the UK and they thought it would be a rather novel idea to use a supper club, which are all the rage now here in London. They kindly donated the prosecco for our lunch.  We started off with a cocktail of prosecco di Valdobbiadene, strawberry and basil which while sweet also managed to be quite refreshing and as it was a hot summer afternoon, very much appreciated. That has to be one of the advantages of using prosecco, fizz without the exorbitant price tag and if you’re going to adulterate your wine, why use champagne when prosecco works just as well. We had a still prosecco or vino tranquilo as they call it, with the starter of stone oven baked sardines with tomatoes and herbs. I’ve only ever had still prosecco once before, but I do enjoy it. Although it is still, it does have a few lazy bubbles. Still prosecco is made from 100% prosecco grapes. Many people do not realize that prosecco is not only the name of the wine but also the grape. A lovely aperitif, apples and pears on the nose with a some flowery notes wafting about, on the palate, a lively wine with more of those great appley flavours, it washed down the sardines easily which were very… sardine-y. The main of pork belly and crackling was served with two proseccos, the vino spumante extra dry DOC Prosecco di Valdobbiadene and the Cartizze which is the top end of the Riccardo prosecco line. Prosecco di Valdobiadene comes...

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Italian wines and Drink Price at the 2010 LIWF- videos

When I was at the 2010 London International Wine Fair, I came across DrinkPrice. Actually, they came across me as they were roaming the Excel Centre looking to interview wine people and what we thought were some of our interesting finds. I had come across some great Italian wines and did a brief tasting note with DrinkPrice presenter (and wine drinker) Nathan Nolan. DrinkPrice is a new website that aims to catalogue all the drinks available in the UK. The also have numerous video interviews and reviews on their site. You can see my picks for interesting Italian wines, including a  Sicilian Red, a Nero Cappuccio and a Marsala Superiore. Have a look to see what we thought of these wines and how they matched up with the food on offer.… Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Falanghina from Cantine degli Astroni at the 2010 LIWF

I do enjoy those more obscure Italian varietals. Italy has something like over a thousand native grape varieties and over a million vineyards under cultivation! Which means you are spoilt for choice. No need to stick to the usual suspects such as pinot grigio and sangiovese (Chianti). Falanghina might be more or less an unknown quantity here in the UK but it is widely grown and consumed in Italy. While I was at the London International Wine Fair recently, I tried the falanghina of Cantine degli Astroni, a vineyard based in the Phlegraean Fields near Naples.  The  vineyard for the Strione falanghina is situated on the slopes of the Astroni crater and the it’s volcanic influences can be found on the nose and palate. What was interesting about this wine was that it had been macerated on the skins, something that is not commonly done with white wine grapes. Macerating it on the skins gives the wine a whole new complexity and character, richer, fuller and definitely much more structure. Cantine degli Astroni also produce other excellent white wines including greco di tufo and fiano de avellino but I wanted to focus on the falanghina as I thought it was the most interesting. I had a brief chat with their rep, Gerrardo (his friends call him Gerry)Vernazzaro. Click on the vid to find out more about the Strione falanghina.  The Strione is available from Naked Wines. Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Can’t touch this….La Tunella Friulano

Don’tcha just hate when you go away on holiday discover this great wine and then when you get back home, find out that it’s not available in your home county? Well, now you know how I feel after a recent tasting I had with Giovanna Borreri of La Tunella and  their importer Corney&Barrow at Tsuru sushi in Bishopsgate. La Tunella was the name and white wines were primarily the game that afternoon. La Tunella is a family owned winery situated in the north of Italy, Colli Orientali del Friuli to be exact. Friuli is known for the exceptionally mineral laden and elegant white wines they produce. The region is divided into 8 D.O.C.’s with a very distinct terroir of sandstone and marl and a favourable and unique microclimate which shields the grapes from the Alpine winds coming down from the north while still allowing the warm breezes of the Adriatic to waft up and warm the grapes. La Tunella take their terroir seriously and even brought along a small box of the flat rocks that make up the terrain. La Tunella really does rock! We got down to tasting and matching the wines with the sushi and curry. The 2008 pinot grigio while at first, a good specimen of what pinot grigio should be, really woke up in the mouth when combined with the sushi. It was a great food wine,crunchy minerality and balance of fruit with an bright lemon-lime finish. All too often pinot grigio is an insipid, pallid, glass of lemon water but here was a pinot grigio that was worth the £10 asking price. The 2008 Friulano however, was the wine that we all raved about. Friulano used to be called Tokay Friulano but the Hungarians took issue with the use of the word tokay and in 2007, the Italians were forced to drop the tokay part of the name. No matter, it is still a fantastic wine and Friulano refers not only to the grape but also the land and...

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Pizza Express and their low alcohol wines

Low alcohol wine. In the wine trade it’s a dirty little secret that wineries, esp but not limited to New World wineries, use de-alcoholizing machines to reduce alcohol in their wines but is there another way to make wine that is low in alcohol yet still has flavour and body? Pizza Express has thrown down the gauntlet and is producing a low alcohol and low calorie wine the natural way. Not only are they promising low alcohol wines but they are also promising low calorie wines with both the red and white wines topping out at around 87 calories per glass with an ABV of 9% for white and 9.5% for red. Pizza Express has been working with Adrian Garforth MW for the past six years to develop their wine list and recently he was charged with producing the low alcohol wines. I asked Adrian how they were going to do that. He explained that they were hoping to achieve low alcohol wines by judicious vineyard management, choosing the best locations, canopy management and grape picking at the optimal time. The vineyards for the white wines are located near Lake Garda which he feels is the best location for their low calorie, low alcohol wines. So how did it taste? Well, as Adrian explained, they are going for wines that are uncomplicated and easy drinking. They have succeeded on that point. The Leggera pinot blanc was the first one tasted. Faint green apples on the nose and palate. Not a whole lot going on, not thin but not round either. I suppose if you want a glass in your hand while you’re eating and socializing, this white fills the bill. The Leggera red was a bit more exciting. A blend of sangiovese and 4% merlot from Sicily, the grapes were harvested early, the first week of  September. Adrian said that they first tried to make a 100% sangiovese but it didn’t have that certain juicyness that they were aiming for. Taking the wine samples back to England,...

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The Sampler-Trying iconic to everyday wines, all at the push of a button….

Don’t you just wish you could try every single wine before you buy it?  I know I do. Sure the back label gives a mighty fine description (if it’s New World or none at all if it’s Old World, esp. France and Italy!) but oftentimes, unless you’ve had the wine before, you might have only a hazy idea of what you’ll be getting. You pop the cork and hope for the best. The ‘Sleuth and ’90 were out and about in Islington the other day and we popped into The Sampler to, well, have some samples.The Sampler is a wine shop with a difference, namely you can try the wines and not just 3 or 4 but close to 100 before you buy. The shop has been open since 2006 but I’ve never actually been in to give their wine sampling dispensers a go. Briefly, the machines are temperature controlled, airtight and use a nitrogen mixture to ensure that the wines don’t become oxidized. The Sampler offers 3 different serving sizes, the smallest being 25 mls up to 75mls and priced accordingly. To get the wine you just pop in a smart card which you load with  prepaid credit (min. £10) and then push the button for your sample. Sarah (wine90) had previously arranged for us to go down and give the wine dispenser a go, so when we walked in, Sebastian Crozatier, the shop manager, had our cards charged up and rarin’ to go. Where to start?? The shop carries around 1000 classic, interesting, and off the beaten path wines at any one time and has plenty on tasting, 80 in all! There were some amazing wines available to sample. From New World to Old World and back again. 25 ml samples started at about 45 pence for the everyday wines all the way up to the “Icon Wines”.  I think the most expensive was £79.17 for a 25ml sample of Lafite Rothschild 1982 (£1900 btl). All prices quoted for samples are the...

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