Just to make it clear from the beginning, I SELL WINE, and I use this blog to write, promote and sell wines (imported by me or by some friends - call it the Wine Mafia...) that are original, unique, engaging and extreme, and that are available to the Irish market in such limited quantities that it would be virtually impossible to find them in shops and restaurants around the country. Here you will also find recipes, the odd restaurant review and various and variegated personal thoughts.

Friday, December 6, 2013

On genius, Rosso Piceno, and turkey's happiness

Genius: an exceptionally intelligent person or one with exceptional skill in a particular area of activity.

If we agree with the definition of genius given by the Oxford Dictionary then Natalino Crognaletti, the driving force behind Fattoria San Lorenzo, is definitely a genius.

He has no particular secrets to craft his unique wines, but lot of very personal and sometimes extreme ideas. So extreme that every time I spend few days with him I always leave with the same doubt: either I know much less about wine than I think, or he is gloriously messing me around telling me bizarre stories....

Biodynamic ante-litteram as this is how they always did it since his great grandfather started growing grapes: take a walk in the vineyard with Natalino and you'll be amazed by the incredible amount of ladybirds, butterflies and bees “working” with him. And if you compare with the desolate “death valley” landscape of the neighboring chemical-sprayed vineyards, the difference is striking.
The farm is also self-sufficient and pretty much everything they need is home grown or produced (they basically buy only flour, sugar and coffee).

It's difficult for me to pick a favourite from the vast range of wines Natalino produces, but the Rosso Piceno “di Gino” is consistently one of the best reds he makes, and possibly one of the best value for money I ever found.

A blend of Montepulciano and Sangiovese in a 60:40 ratio mainly aged in steel vats (only 10% of the wine sees oak, just to soften a bit the natural acidity of the two grapes and to add a extra layer of complexity), this wine is rich, deep, funky, complex, ripe but never overpowering. It's also full of black cherries, red fruit, spices, liquorice and tobacco. And just in case you were wondering, it is age-worthy and at the same time has that sort of please-give-me-another-sip drinking feel that I know you like.

Anything else you need to know about it? No.

So, get it now! You'll make your turkey happy this Christmas...

if you want to buy it from Sheridans Cheesemongers, just email me clicking here

Monday, November 18, 2013

On wines and names and lost identities (and on a little big red called Rosso di Monteraponi)

It is an interesting contradiction that Tuscany, the region that in the collective imaginary more represent the traditional Italian wine, is the first region guilty of selling its soul to the standardisation of taste, with the indiscriminate use of “international” grapes to create wines to appeal the “international” palate. Few high quality peaks, more often mundane wines lacking in character, always overpriced.
Banning the use in the Chianti blend of white grapes Trebbiano and Malvasia – traditionally used to soften the sometimes edgy Sangiovese – in favor of Merlot, Syrah and Co. was the last act of the regional globalization.
So now, the Rosso di Monteraponi, one of most truly traditional Chiantis cannot be called Chianti anymore.
Another interesting contradiction.
Rosso di Monteraponi and his brother Chianti Classico
(check it out too!)
Made on the hills of Radda in Chianti by the young Michele Braganti, this wine is a blend of organically grown Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Colorino (the Chianti Triad of Grapes…) with a dash of Trebbiano and Malvasia.
It is also as naturally made as possible: spontaneous fermentation without added yeasts, no oak, no filtration. Sometimes less is better…
It’s full of red berried fruit, with hints of minerals, and with an enticing floral character due to the use of the white grapes. The palate is jucy, moderately tannic, fresh and the degree of “yumminness” is dagerously high.
Use it copiously with your steak, with roast beef, grilled lamb. It will work also with pasta dishes with tomato and meat sauce, or with semi hard cheeses and charcuterie. And considering the fast approaching festive season, it would a good option for your turkey or your glazed ham.
In fact, the Rosso di Monteraponi is an incredibly versatile wine.
Just a word of warning. It can be addictive.

if you want to buy it from Sheridans Cheesemongers, just click here

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The best wine ever (and that's a big statement...)

Friends in excess of happiness sometimes are more intense and difficult to handle than friends in a depressive or miserable mood.
But friends in excess of happiness can also surprise you in some unexpected ways.
And if the happy friend in a celebratory mood has access to a well stocked cellar, things can get very interesting.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ciro Picariello

I've never been so impressed by so many wines from a single producer. Actually, I like all their wines...
I heard about this small producer a while ago, I tried to visit them during  a recent trip to Campania. I got lost so many times that even the GPS gave up at the end.
I decided to meet them at the last Vinitaly in Verona. Much easier....