Castello Banfi Brunello and a long Friday lunch

My infatuation with Italian wine continues. A is for Amarone. B is for Brunello di Montelcino, bodalicious, complex, tasty, lipsmackingly satisfying (ok,so I’m skipping around the alphabet and making up words) you get the point, I do love those Italians. Growing up with only the familiar wicker covered funnily shaped bottles of Chianti, that was my only exposure to Italian wine, that and the cheap dross I encountered when I first came to London as a student. The good old days. Why do they call them the good old days? I’d much rather be in the now and the fabulous wines I had the other day at lunch. A typical wet, dreary London afternoon found me on Savile Row on my way to the smart Italian restaurant, Sartoria, for lunch with Bibendum and Cristina Mariani-May (the next generation and co-CEO of the company) and Dante Cecchini (regional manager) of Castello Banfi . Bibendum is now importing the Castello Banfi range into the UK so this was our opportunity to sample their wares. Castello Banfi orginally started out importing Italian wines to America early in the 20th century and built up a very successful import business but in 1978 they decided to head back to their native land and founded the Castello Banfi Vineyard Estate. Once there they spent a considerable amount of time and money on research and are now one of the leaders of classifying sangiovese from Tuscany.  They’ve spent over 30 years on research and catalogued over 160 clones which they’ve narrowed that down to the 15 best clones for their wines. And Castello Banfi has generously shared their research with the world because they believe ..”all ships will rise when the tide comes in…” and their research can only benefit all of Montalcino. Castello Banfi were also one of the first to plant international varieties in Tuscany, creating the “super-Tuscans” and we got to sample one during lunch. Nothing more civilized then a 5 course meal with matching wines for lunch, now is there? The food was fantastic but the real stars of the...

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Italians at the Dorchester Hotel

Recession? What recession? The credit crunch apparently hasn’t hit the Italians as the annual Wines of Tuscany tasting (sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission) was held at one of London’s poshest hotels, The Dorchester in Mayfair. Can’t get any nicer then that. I’ve been slowly educating my tastebuds to the wines of Italy but there are so many different varieties that it’s hard to try them all. The Italians like to say that “every village has it’s own grape” and with over 2,000 varieties, you could spend a lifetime just sampling all of them, a pastime I would gladly take up. The tasting covered  the DOCG’s, DOC‘s and IGT‘s of Tuscany only and included over 70 producers and their wares. I know they’re trying to sell me their wines but really, those Italians are sooo charming and friendly. It probably helped that I went late and I think some of them were definitely taking samples along with everyone else. At least that’s what it seemed like! The first table I talked to were the folks of Poggio del Gello, a small vineyard in the Montecucco DOC which is in southern Tuscany. All of their wines are organic which was a common theme at the tasting. Almost every other producer seemed to be organic. They had 3 wines but the most interesting was the Pugnitello which is an ancient, indigenous vine of  Tuscany. If I understood them correctly (their English wasn’t so pretty and my Italian is crap), it was only re-discovered about 20 years ago and in 2004, Poggio planted 2000 plants and  began producing wine in ’07. It’s a very small production, only 500 bottles but they are planning on increasing production. The wine itself is quite floral and spicy on the nose with a deep, intense colour. It was full bodied with persistent black fruits, hints of anise and a wonderfully spiciness about it. I was enjoying it but time to carry on. I then spotted a wine called “Psyco”. Gotta give it to those Italians they are good at catching the...

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A bit of Italian for dinner

Remole by Frescobaldi What to have with dinner tonight is the perennial question. You could go with the old tried and true Aussie something or other or cheap new world red or white but what about Italy? I went to an Italian tasting not long ago and they are coming up in leaps and bounds. So, the other day, when I was staring at the wall of wine in the shop, I gravitated toward Italy and picked up this little number from Tuscany. Remole is a blend of sangiovese with a touch of cabernet to give it a bit of colour and heft. On pouring, it gave off aromas of cherry and red berry fruits, very clear, ruby red in colour. On pouring it down my throat, more of that cherry goodness with a mix of juicy strawberry, ripe cherry, a blackcurrant backdrop and a hint of brambly pepper with a dark chocolate finish. Delicious. We had BBQ chicken, spicy couscous and hummous with this and it was a perfect palate cleanser between each bite. Fresh and fruity just begging me to take another bite, which is what any good food wine should do. Wine Stats: Year: 2006 Alcohol: 12.5% Region: IGT Tuscany Varietal(s): blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon Retail price: £6.99 In a nutshell: fruity red for dinner Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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