jamie goode's wine blog

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Incredible red from Sicily

Lots of good wines on show at the Bunch tasting today. The Bunch is a grouping of five of the UK's leading merchants: Berry Bros & Rudd, Corney & Barrow, Adnams, Tanners and Yapp. Here's one of my favourites:

Passopiscaro 2006 Sicily
Made by Andrea Franchetti of Tenuto di Trinorio fame, this is a wonderfully complex wine from Mount Etna, a region of Sicily thatís currently attracting a lot of attention. Franchetti has 8 hectares of old vines, at high altitude (from 650Ė1000 m), and this is a varietal Nerello Mascalese, harvested in November. Viticulture is organic, with no herbicides or fertilizers; 2300 case made. Itís a pale cherry colour with a wonderfully complex nose of red berry and cherry fruit together with savoury, spicy, herby, slightly meaty notes in the mix. The palate is rich, generous, spicy and herby with lovely warmth and some complex meaty, earthy notes. Imagine a cross between a refined, old-style Barolo, top red Burgundy and Ch‚teau Musar, and you are sort of getting there. Amazing complexity, a hint of funk, but just lovely. 93/100 (£26.79 Corney & Barrow)

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Two mineralic whites from Italy

I love minerality in wine, even if I can't define it very well. I just know it when I see it. Here are two lovely mineralic whites of real interest. They're not totally obvious at first sip - rather, these are wines that creep up on you and grow in depth as you drink them.

Meroi Sauvignon Blanc 2007 Colli Orientali del Friuli, Italy
From Paolo Meroi, who is working biodynamically, but isn't certified. Slightly reductive, minerally, smoky nose with some fresh, savoury lemony notes. The palate has wonderful minerality underneath the fresh, subtly green fruit. Bright, precise and savoury, this is an attractive wine that has real potential. A shame it's so expensive, but it is quite serious. 90/100 (£17.55 Berry Bros & Rudd)

Benanti Pietramarina Etna Bianco Superiore 2004 Sicily, Italy
From the Carricante grape variety, unique to Etna, grown as free-standing bush vines with a density of 9000/hectare, of average age 80 years. Altitude of 950 metres offsets the warmth of this part of the world. Wonderfully smoky, minerally nose with a hint of tangerine and subtle nutty notes, as well as notes of pear and grapefruit. The palate is fruity and fresh, showing lemons and minerals. Focused, intense and pure, this is evolving in a beautifully linear direction. 91/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene, c. £25)

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Sicilian wines, specially priced, at Carluccio's

Italian restaurant chain Carluccio's (www.carluccios.com) are having a wine festival. It began a few days ago and runs through to the beginning of August, and features Sicilian wines from Planeta and the Settesoli co-op. These wines are really good, and they're exceptionally well priced, and so I thought I'd draw my readers' attention to it (no commercial link). There are free tastings of these wines every Thursday, as well as a series of special dinners.

I've just tried three of them (notes below), but on my recent trip to Sicily I tried a few more, including the fantastic Ceresuolo, the ageworthy Chardonnay and the complex Santa Cecilia. Here's the full list of wines:
  • La Segreta Bianco (from Planeta) £8.95
  • Feudo dei Fiori Mandrarossa (from Cantine Settesoli) £8.95
  • Planeta Alastro (from Planeta) £12.50
  • Planeta Chardonnay (from Planeta) £19.50
  • La Segreta Rosso (from Planeta) £8.95
  • Bonera Mandrarossa (from Cantine Settesoli) £9.95
  • Planeta Ceresuolo (from Planeta) £12.50
  • Carthago Mandrarossa (from Cantine Settesoli) £15.95
  • BendicÚ Mandrarossa (from Cantine Settesoli) £16.95
  • Planeta Santa Cecilia (from Planeta) £19.50
  • Planeta Rosť (from Planeta) £10.50
Planeta Rose 2008 Sicilia
Made with Syrah, 12% alcohol. Salmon/pink colour. Nicely savoury with a herbal tang to the cherry and cranberry fruit. Good acid and quite savoury. Food friendly. 85/100

Mandrarossa Feuro dei Fiori 2008 Sicilia
A blend of Grecanico and Chardonnay, 12.5% alcohol. Full yellow colour. Powerful flavours of nuts, herbs, melon and apricot with a savoury, minerally depth. Really intense and food friendly: a distinctive boldly flavoured white wine. 88/100

Mandrarossa Carthago 2006 Sicilia
Nero d'Avola aged in French oak, 14% alcohol. Lovely vivid sweet pure cherry and raspberry fruit showing floral aromatics and creamy, spicy oak notes. The palate is sleek and sophisticated with a hint of plummy bitterness on the finish. A deliciously rich, modern-styled wine. 89/100

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

A fine day for Fiano

It has been one of those rare blue sky and sunshine days here in west London. The combination of heat, sunshine and Sunday puts everyone into a good mood. It would be the perfect day if we didn't have a chavvy fair on the green outside our house (incidentally, this is the same fair that was present when Google sent their streetview cameras down our road - key in tw134af as a postcode and you'll see it.)

I'm just back from a lovely walk on Hounslow Heath with RTL, and so now it's time for wine. Another cheapie tonight: Asda Extra Special Fiano 2007 Sicily, Italy. It was just £4 and it's really nice. Made by the Settesoli co-op, it's fresh, lemony, a bit peachy and has good acidity. It makes me think a bit of a ripe Riesling, but with added peach, pear and passionfruit richness. It's great to be able to get a wine with this sort of personality for just £4.

I think I'll shortly move on to a Manzanilla I have chilling in the fridge (it's the screwcapped one from Marks & Spencer, made by Williams and Humbert), and then later on, watching Match of the Day to see who's relegated, I'll treat myself to a bit of the Matusalem Oloroso from Gonzalez Byass, one of the greatest Sherries of all in my opinion.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Restaurant da Vittorio - just brilliant

One of the highlights of the Sicily trip was lunch at Restaurant Da Vittorio (website here) on the beach in Porto Palo near Menfi.

It's not terribly swanky - in fact, it looks a bit downmarket inside. But the food, prepared by Vittorio, is legendary. We ate exclusively seafood, including a sea snails in tomato sauce, spaghetti with whitebait, spaghetti with sea urchins and then a fish that's known in Italy as Dentice, which seems to be translated as Dentex. It's a mediterranean fish that has delicately flavoured white flesh, a bit like sea bass.





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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Video: visiting Planeta, Sicily

A short film from this week's visit to Planeta

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Back from Sicily

I got back from Sicily in the early hours this morning. I've been without internet access for three days, and I apologise for not updating the blog, but Italy doesn't seem to be great for wifi networks. Indeed, Palermo airport is the only airport that I've travelled through in the last few years that appears to have no wifi internet.

For now, just a couple of pictures from Planeta's vineyards near Menfi.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Amphorae

Doug of Les Caves has sent me a couple of pictures of the amphorae used for the fermentation and elevage of Cos' Pithos wine (a red wine from Sicily that I blogged on a couple of weeks ago). I thought I'd share them here.

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

A biodynamic Sicilian amphora wine


Here's a wine that you might not 'get' of you just gave it a quick sniff and slurp in the middle of a large tasting. But once you give it a bit of time, and learn the story behind it, suddenly it all clicks, and it turns out to be almost profound. The importance of context...

Azienda Agricola Cos 'Pithos' 2006 Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG, Sicily
The story: two grape varieties - Nero d'Avola and Frappato - grown biodynamically and fermented in terracotta amphorae. No sulfur dioxide is used until bottling, so this wine is pretty 'natural'. Bottled in a beautiful squat, wide bottle. The nose has a haunting perfume, combining red fruits of great purity with fine minerally, spicy, earthy notes that frame the fruit quite precisely. Think of the aromatic profile of a great red Burgundy, warmed up a notch or two by the sun. It's the sort of nose you can keep returning to, and each time you attend you get something different. The palate is medium bodied and savoury, with an elegant earthiness. It has a spicy, subtly meaty complexion that makes me think of brettanomyces, but I feel stupid suggesting this, because it is hinting at a wine fault, when this wine is most certainly not faulty - it all pulls together to produce a profound result. But, at the same time, this is a relatively understated sort of wine that whispers, rather than shouts. The finish is long and dry. I think it's fantastic stuff, and I reckon this will develop nicely over the next 15 years or so, although it is drinking now. Strange to think, but that with its traditional elevage, this is a wine that could have been made 1000 or even 2000 years ago. 93/100 (Les Caves de Pyrene)

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