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Posts Tagged ‘wine tasting in London’

That Italians have passion, are masters of style and are proud of their traditional handcraft is worn truth for most of us, but that they infuse their wines with this enviable attitude ‘a la dolce vita’, may be revealing for some.

In particular, if you haven’t spent enough time debating with winemakers, the endangered species in today’s Italy, where drinking wine is increasingly frowned upon. Strangely to me, most of my Italian friends would rather sip a cocktail than a glass or two of wine.

The winemakers though still have it as I was recently reassured at a wine tasting event Passione Vino held at London’s St. James. They often engaged in an all-expressing discourse of a blend of musical Italian speech with amicable body language, that I dared to skip my afternoon psychology lecture and enjoyed savouring their words in glasses full of their liquid passion.

The Italian fashion-embracing style is recognised across the world as are their spaghetti. They get creative not only with bottles [no need to be a fashion designer-even though Roberto Cavalli crafted a stunning piece for his brother’s estate in Tuscany] but also with their brochures. From fingerprints, through drawings and even poems your artistic soul will be elevated.

White 'queen' of the day

Art is subjective, but I have to admit I admired drawings of Eugenio Rosi either on his labels and wine leaflets. He and his wife Tamara live and breath wine and you can taste it on your palate. The wine of the day was his white “Anisos” Vallagarina IGT, 2007. An organic blend of Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay and Nosiola (a local variety reminding a more known Ribolla). I found myself on a short trip to Burgundy for a minute as the wine swirled through my mouth. Although not a 100% Chardonnay as Burgundies a delightful creaminess and dried fruits came through in this wine. Hay and straw nose made me wonder who is the main culprit in this masterpiece. Is it Chardonnay or to me mysterious Nosiola? Perhaps the oak casks were imported from Burgundy. Who knows – the winemaker though for sure knows the secret- for me it means contemplating a visit of Volano in Northern Italian Trentino region where Rosi has vineyards.

Back to my three points and straight to the last one – the traditional craft of Italian hands. Yes, there are many mass producers in Italy these days and this sometimes, sadly, cost for example Amarone its reputation. The Amarones have changed their style dramatically over the years. Today we drink them sweet, sometimes too much though. Not all producers took the road of market-driven winemaking though. There are still those keeping the production small and all their effort and focus into each bottle they produce, piece by piece. Moreover, many like to experiment and trust their taste buds. Dott. Umberto Ceratti is one of them and he likes it sweet in low and flat & round bottles. From a recommendation for consumption on his web site you get an idea how much time he has devoted exploring the best way to enjoy it at its best.

Consumption: “alone, in conversation or in meditation or as an aperitif, accompanied by spicy cheese biscuits or hard cheese or fresh fruit after a meal.”       source: http://www.agriturismoceratti.com

I can imagine meditating with ease after two glasses of this 13% + 3% Vol wine. Perhaps that is why he lets the precise percentage of alcohol in a safe + 3% zone – for some its after effects might be a small surprise. Enough polemics and now lets look at the facts. I’ve tasted one of his ‘Greek White” wines – the Greco Di Bianco DOC, 2006. It is produced in a ‘passito style’ where grapes are dried like raisins and then they are fermented. In Calabria the Greco Di Bianco grape gets plenty of sunshine necessary for this sweet wine. The most famous passito is Passito di Panteleria from the island half way between Sicily and Tunisia where sun is the main ingredient in viticulture. Calabria is still enough South and the producer Azienda Agricola Nereide Ceratti exploits its sunny potential fully. Caramelized soft honey and dried exotic fruits transfer you to a hot sandy beach of Calabria from cold and cloudy London in a nick of a second, and – it feels really good as it lasts with its long and warming aftertaste.

The Roman ancestors stirred the Italian passione vino as well as improved cheese making so we can today be grateful for their focus on development of taste experience inspiring a later creation of cheese icons.

Who has never heart of a crumbly parmiggiano? Beware, La Credenza, an Italian delicatessen supplier to the UK, won’t disappoint a real gourmets with their heavenly truffle pecorino or an intoxicating passito-infused blue cheese or Umbriaco matured in Amarone.

If you missed the tasting I have some good news at the end – La Credenza holds a tasting of a wide range of Italian Artisan delicacies on Wednesday 16th March, 2011 at The Chelsea Old Town Hall on London’s King’s Road. Email info@lacredenza.co.uk for more info and R.S.V.P. by 3rd March.

For information about Italian wines I find this website very useful:  http://www.gooditalianwine.com/

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Explore Gruener Veltliner, zweigelt and other Austrian red and white wines for winter and christmas on the 12th of November at 6.30pm at Kipferl.

Kipferl in an Austrian delicatessen shop in East London recommended to me from my Austrian friend, so it must be authentic!

A £5.00 entry includes the wine tasting and snacks.
The address: 70 long lane london EC1A 9EJ
tel: 020 7796 2229

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Ortega- rioja tasting
In London’s rainy fall it is great to hide inside, so why not visit Ortega,a Spanish restaurant just in front of the Smithfield market. For £15 per person you get to taste six different riojas accompanied by typical Spanish tapas.

The staff takes an exceptional care of you as it is for the first time they are doing a wine tasting.
On the table you have set a paper with descriptions of each rioja and tapas accompanying it.

Tasting

We started with the white Luis Canas 2008 with the famous Tortilla Espanola making it a perfect duo. There is a description next to your glass, though my impression was that I could taste more green apples than citrus. What was interesting was that it resembled the Italian Pinot Grigio.

Rosé wine

Next step was rosé. This was the first time I had rioja in rosé version. I thought it is quite atypical for Spain. The Finea Manzanos Rosado 2008 was crisp, refreshing with hints of strawberries and light sparkle on a tongue. It was served with delicious Croquetas de Champinones.

Red wine

We moved to red wine, which is more common for rioja. The Castillo Clavijo Gran Reserva 2001 reminded me bordeaux style wines. Its powerful and slightly acidic taste with oaky smell absolutely enchanted my Mexican friend. Accompanied by Garbanzos con Espinacas, which basically is a chickpea mash with spinach.

My favourite was the deeply red Verga del Razo Reserva. Its silky, medium bodied and elegant tones with fine tannins were mouth-watering! Savoury taste fit well with Patatas Bravas straight from Barcelona (at least they tasted like that).

Spicy finish assured the red rioja Solmareno from Crianza. Mulberries and soft oak dominated the otherwise smooth flavour. A heavy Fabada Asturiana from North of Spain was just right for this wine. Fabada is beans with ham in a saucy style.

Comparison with other Spanish region

Unfortunately, the restaurant was out of the Monte Clavijo. Instead we tried a Shiraz from the Spanish province Castilla. The Hacienda Casa del Valle 2005 bottled in the estate was interesting in the way that we could compare its full bodied and a bit peppery flavour with riojas based on Tempranillo grapes offering more raspberry and spicy blend.

I recommend you to come around lunch time or during the afternoon so you will have most of the restaurant for yourselves and can discuss your impressions from the tasting with the kind members of staff.

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