Nino Franco Prosecco. Prosecco but not as you know it…

May 24, 13 Nino Franco Prosecco. Prosecco but not as you know it…

Posted by in All, Italy, Sparkling Wine

Cheap and cheerful. Big fat bubbles, sweet tasting. Famous for being the bubbly in a Bellini. All these things are commonly said about everyone’s favourite Italian sparkler, prosecco. But that’s not the only kind of prosecco being produced. I had lunch earlier this week at Locanda Locatelli with the owner of Nino Franco Prosecco, Primo Franco. Prosecco is traditionally made from the glera grape, goes through a secondary fermentation using the charmant method (in tank rather then bottle) and comes from the Valdobbiadene and Conegliano regions of Northeastern Italy. Franco make their proseccos this way but do much more. They are one of the few producers to make single vintage and single vineyard proseccos. For them, it’s very important to show the “terroir” of the region. It’s so important to them that they left the appellation in 2009 so that they could make their prosecco without having adhere to the rules and regulations put down by the Italian government. They want to differentiate themselves from the regular ‘prosecco’ made by their neighbours. Besides being single vineyard and single vintage, the wine is left on the lees and goes through battonage, none of which is allowed by the AOC, to give them complexity and body. They also wait 2 to 3 years before they release their proseccos to the market. The results are wines with complexity and depth. Another characteristic that I noticed straight off were the tiny bubbles – not something usually associated with prosecco. During lunch, I asked Primo if he would still call his wines ‘prosecco’ or would he prefer them to be called sparkling wine? This brought on a rather lively debate of what IS prosecco. We decided in the end that they were prosecco but …”not as we know it.” We tried Nino Franco’s Rustico prosecco, the 2009 Grave di Stecca, single vineyard and vintage, and the Vigneto della Riva di San Floriano, single vineyard. The Rustico was a delicious aperitif, dry but with balanced fruit on the nose and...

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Langlois-Chateau, Loire Valley wines

It may seem like I only drink champagne but that’s not true. Sometimes I drink sparkling wine, too. All kidding aside, I do enjoy a good sparkling wine and some of my favourites are cremants.  A cremant is a French sparkling wine that does not come from the Champagne region. It’s as simple as that. So for example, you can have a Cremant de Bourgogne, Cremant de Alsace, or as in this particular post, a Cremant de Loire. In each case, the sparkling wine is made from grapes that are grown locally and usually produced in the traditional method but not always. I met up with the the wine maker for Loire Valley producer, Langlois-Chateau, Francois-Regis de Fougeroux recently  for lunch at Cigalon on Chancery Lane. Francois-Regis brought along  his sparkling wines as well as a few red wines for us to have with lunch. The white sparkling was composed of chenin blanc, chardonnay and cabernet franc and the rose sparkling was 100% cabernet franc. Langlois-Chateau is owned by Bollinger and benefits from the experience and expertise that the Champagne house brings to the table. They are the only house that buys grapes and then vinifies them separately as opposed to other producers in the Loire who buy the “must” and make their sparkling wines from there. They also use the “traditional method” with the wines spending at least 2 years in the cellar before being released. All of this results in sparkling wines that have much in common with champagne. The brut sparkling wine had very fine bubbles with good balance and citrus fruit flavours, a great aperitif. I really enjoyed the rosé, an aromatic and fruity nose followed on by loads of strawberries and raspberries on the palate, very fresh and morish. Francois-Regis calls this his “swimming pool” wine, perfect for lounging on a hot (well, here in England the most we can hope for is a warm) summers day. Another plus in choosing cremant de Loire’s is the price tag. Both...

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Christmas dinner SOS, affordable wines for about a tenner – video

I know I’m not really known for my budget friendly wines, what with all that Krug I’ve been guzzling lately, but I do keep up with what’s going on in the supermarkets and when vouchercodes.co.uk asked me to do a video with my recommendations for value for money wines this holiday season, it wasn’t too difficult for me to pick out some favourites from the supermarkets. So, without further ado, here are my picks for budget holiday drinks. I tried to stay under 10 quid and think I did a pretty good job 😉 Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPocketRedditGoogleTumblrEmailPrintPinterestLike this:Like...

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Bicycling through the Loire, part 2

Jun 27, 12 Bicycling through the Loire, part 2

Posted by in France, Lifestyle, Travel

The next day we had an early start, catching the train to Saumur, a short 45 minute train ride away. The weather was not as nice in the morning but as the day went on it cleared up to be a sunny afternoon. Seriously, when you’re on a bicycle, you don’t want it to be TOO sunny now do you? We headed through the vineyards of Saumur to our first stop of the day, Clos du Cristal. We had a wine tasting smack in the middle of the vineyards. An interesting note about Clos du Cristal is that their cabernet franc vines are planted against a wall with a hole about shoulder height. A large section of the vineyard is a series of rows of these walls.  Once the vines reach that height, the leaves and bunches of grapes all grow on the other side of the wall. The effect is that it looks like the vines are hiding from you on one side and the other side has grapes poking out of holes in the wall! This was done to keep the roots cool while still allowing the berries to get lots of sun. It seems to work as the cab franc was balanced with not too many vegetal notes coming through. Clos du Cristal is organic and they don’t use pesiticides as evidenced by the flocks of geese and chickens running around the vines. We hopped on our bikes and headed to a restaurant carved out of the soft rocks, L’Helianthe. I forgot to mention earlier that the region is dotted by troglodyte caves. The caves were dug out of the rocks thousands of years ago and were later used (and still are) as caves for the wines. Nowadays, it has become fashionable to use the caves as second homes by the locals. Or, a restaurant in this case. Lunch was quite tasty and one of the highlights was a Coteaux du Layon. Not far from the restaurant is Chateau de Targe....

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Wine (and food) on a Brighton getaway

Apr 19, 12 Wine (and food) on a Brighton getaway

Posted by in England, Food and Wine, Lifestyle

I was invited down to Brighton recently to check out the Brighton and Hove food and wine festival. I’ve been to Brighton a few times and it is relatively easy to get there from London. If you can’t be bothered to do all the legwork yourself you can find Brighton Holidays online. The last time I was there for a winemaker’s dinner at the Hotel du Vin Brighton, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear that part of the festival was being held at the hotel and that they would be putting me up for the night there. This isn’t my first time at HdV Brighton, I’ve stayed there in the past and always enjoy walking into the comforting decor of the hotel, alternating between dark and blonde wood, cozy couches and chairs scattered around the main bar and a bustling bistro next to it. From the outside, the building dates back to the 16th-17thth century, complete with timber and whitewalls on certain parts of the hotel.  The interior though has all the mod cons and the suites come with giant bathtubs for a soak after spending the day at the beach, which by the way is literally across the road from the hotel. There’s also a charming courtyard as well as a suntrap of a terrace on the first floor. The hotel was putting on a small wine festival and had local producers and wine shops on hand to show off their wines. There was a large proportion of English wines available, including Ridgeview, Bolney’s and even Plumpton College had their local sparkling on offer. I also tried a fantastic pinot blanc from Stopham Estates. They are located in West Sussex and are the only producers of pinot blanc in the UK. The wine was not at all what I was expecting, not tasting like an English wine. By that I mean it didn’t have the telltale elderflower aromas or flavours nor was it slightly off dry. Bright and chipper, balanced fruit and...

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