Friday, 14 February 2014

Out of Hibernation

It's been such a long time since I've posted here.

My only excuse is that I have been in hibernation and have woken up to find that the world is being deluged, and that it's probably time to start building an ark.

Those trees in the foreground will soon be submerged

Parking the car can be a bit difficult just now

It's not that bad here. Many other people are up to their necks in it and have had to abandon their homes.

It will stop raining soon, and we will move on to the next extreme weather episode (extreme cold, extreme heat, drought?).

On a more positive note, in the garden, despite the damage to the shed - half the roof blown off in the storms - the Purple Sprouting Broccoli are doing well this year and the Rhubarb is forcing well.

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

Forced Rhubarb emerging from under the cloche

More posts soon I hope.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Azienda Failoni - vintage variation

Antonio Failoni at work during the harvest
On Monday evening I had the good fortune to attend a tasting organised by Stephen Forward, owner of Essentially Wine, an independent wine merchant with shops in Chipstead and Richmond.

The wines featured were from Azienda Failoni from Le Marche in central Italy. The event was held in the White Hart in Chipstead.

After being introduced to us by Stephen, Antonio Failoni, the owner of the property and winemaker, ably abetted by Francisco who did the interpreting, made an interesting presentation of the wines of his estate explaining how the season, the land and the grape come together to influence the vintage.

This was illustrated vividly in the wines we tasted. The same wine, but from different vintages, displayed strikingly different characteristics while retaining a sense of the style and personality of the winemaker.

Antonio is no hereditary wine estate owner. Originally from Milan, his desire to make wine followed a holiday in the Marche region, where he fell in love with the landscape almost at first sight. He immediately set to work to build his dream - working literally all hours - patiently buying the land and the buildings, culminating in the launch of his own estate in Staffolo, near Ancona, in 1990. His wines are born of passion, of course, but also out of hard work, and a close affinity with the land and the vine. You can see that this a man who is at ease working among the vines and in the winery, and sense that he believes in what he is doing.

Particularly impressive were the two Verdicchios (DOC Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi), 2011 and 2012.

Although subdued on the nose they burst into life on the palate displaying citrus fruits (lemon and grapefruit - 2011) and more tropical and honeyed flavours (mango - 2012). This may have been because they a little cold. Antonio mentioned they should be consumed at around 12 C.

Perfectly drinkable now they are built to last (up to 10 years), thanks to the thick skinned Verdicchio grape which is resistant to fungal attack and contains plenty of aroma compounds, and will evolve in bottle if cellared well.

They both drink well on their own, but would go well with, say, spicy prawns.

The reds were no less impressive but also strikingly different. Two types of red wines were shown: Rosso Piceno DOC and Esino Rosso DOC.

Rosso Piceno: there is a story behind the name of this wine.

The ‘Piceno’ part is in fact a local name for a woodpecker, and of the people of the area, descended from the ancient pre-Roman peoples of the Marche region, who were known for their druids carrying a woodpecker on their shoulder in the style of an operatic pirate with his parrot.

A blend of 45% Sangiovese, 45% Montepulciano, and 10% Merlot this is a wine which spends time in Slovenian oak barrels before release, and provides a hit of tannin which would seem to mark this wine out for drinking with protein: roast beef, lamb,...

-Rosso Piceno 2009 - woody nose with flavours of cherries, blackcurrants and spice.

-Rosso Piceno 2010 - more fruit on the nose, and flavours of plums and damsons.

Esino Rosso: This wine is named after the river flowing through the valley below the vineyard. It is a blend of 60% Sangiovese, and 40% Montepulciano. Matured in French oak barrels there are less obvious woody notes and the tannins are subtle and rounded.

-Esino Rosso 2008 - Blackcurrant and dark fruits on the nose. Velvety tannins.

-Esino Rosso 2009 - Blueberries and blackcurrant, with a hint of vanilla on the nose, sumptuous fruit flavours and rounded on the palate with a long finish.

All the reds are drinkable now, but have plenty of structure, so can be cellared for several years. Perfect with any Italian dishes, but particularly good with any carnivorous fare, game (especially hare, venison), mushrooms and mature cheeses.

Largely based on the same Sangiovese grape the reds are also the perfect antidote to Chianti fatigue, offering the same freshness, crunchy fruit notes and structure, but rather better value for money and more authenticity than many of the Tuscan offerings.

Failoni also produces delicious olive oil from centuries-old olive trees.

All in all a very enjoyable evening, and I for one look forward to drinking Azienda Failoni wines for many years to come.

The wines are available in this country from the Essentially Wine shops or from the website

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Everyday Drinkers (10)

Number 10 already! I didn't realise I drank so much wine.

This one is a real bargain at £3.99, and is from Sicily, yet again. It's a Vino Rosso Terre Siciliane IGT, a blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nero d'Avola.

What, another Sicilian? Is this the Mafia or something? No, just good value wine.

A delightfully dark wine, packing only 12% ABV despite the dark clothes, it is ideal for drinking every day, preferably with food. Handles tomatoes, cheeses, and pretty much anything else.

It is available from a well-known retailer (yes, Tesco) and produced, or at least bottled, by the Caviro Cooperative (supposedly the largest in Italy).

It has fruit on the nose and on the palate (black cherries mostly) and is well-balanced.

An eminently acceptable wine for the price. Those Sicilian wine producers can certainly deliver drinkable good value.