Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Pure class in a glass

Some wines are pure expression of the outstanding beauty of the places they are coming from.
Some wines don't need any food to give their best.
Some wines stand out for their class and delicacy.
Some wines can show staggering purity and intensity of flavours.

I think that Olivar Cesconi falls in all these categories.
This white wine, produced from a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon on the hills around Pressano, in Trentino Alto Adige, has the power to recall the atmosphere of this beautiful region.
The undulating green fields, the clear sky, the fresh breeze and the shadow of the magnificent and stately Dolomiti mountains.

All this in a glass of wine, together with aromas of white flowers and stone fruits, a touch of melon and a hint of vanilla. In the mouth it is distinguished with the mix of aromas coming back. A good minerality and a long, lingering finish.

Some wines should be drunk more often.
The Olivar Cesconi is one of them!


Saturday, 20 July 2013

Drink as a local

It's no secret that my second passion after wine is travelling. And maybe sometime  it also overtakes wine! Sometimes I feel like I have a sort of travelling!

I like the whole process of preparation and the expectation of the departure but most of all I like to get completely absorbed in other peoples culture and traditions. I like to discover and learn. And on top of this I have an almost insane curiosity for local products.  I always need to experiment traditional recipes. I like to drink local and if it's wine I prefer indigenous varieties and possibly small realities. Not only for the clear ethical purpose of supporting the local economy and to minimise any environmental impact but also because I believe this is part of the bigger process of experiencing the place.

So, since I'm just back from a (too) short vacation in the Ionian island of Ithaca I thought Id share with you some of my memories....
Ithaca is quite a small island characterised by pristine waters and secluded pebbly beaches. The water is so transparent that snorkeling among fishes is all you want to do during the day!

But after sunset, when the refreshing breeze cools down the evening and you are having dinner on your terrace or on a nice little restaurant by the harbour, there is nothing better than a crisp, light and refreshing white wine.

The vineyards in Ithaca are situated mainly in the southern part, around the little village of Perahori but, although there is a well attended wine festival in August (that unfortunately I won't be able to enjoy), you cannot find that much of the wine produced on sale. The most popular wine is without any doubt the Robola of Kefalonia. The two examples I have tasted were both produced by the Kefalonia Wine Cooperative that was opened in 1982.

The first one (in what looked like a tourist-targeted packaging) was quite simple and light. Fresh with nice citrusy fruit, but totally lacking of depth in the mouth. A bit ordinary but with a good acidity. Good as aperitif with some kalamata olives!

The second wine was instead much more interesting. A deeper intensity of citrusy notes followed by aromas of grapefruit and white flowers. In the mouth it is richer and fuller than the first one. An incredible good acidity and some flinty notes. A wine to be matched with seafood. Very good! And cheap. You can have it for around 8€!

But of course, since I have been there for a week I also have tasted something else, a bit less local (meaning that it was not coming strictly from the Ionian archipelago but from other parts of Greece) such as the un-pronounceable wine in the picture below...

...that was absolutely dull and almost watery in structure. I've later found out being made from an indigenous variety (not everything that is local is necessarily good!).

Or this Sauvignon Blanc (which I have ordered by mistake since it was in Greek on the menu)...

I have also tasted a house wine coming from Patras, and based on the local Roditis, which was nothing special but it was fresh and light and perfectly fine for an house wine sold at €10 per liter.

But if wine is too alcoholic when the temperature rises, then Greece has to offer you a couple of good lagers: Alpha & Mithos...(which was my favourite and was going down so quickly that I never had enough time to take a picture!)
Now...enjoy your holiday and SALUTE!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

S.P.Q.R. (or `what have the Romans ever done for us?`)

Can I also add fish and chips to this famous Monty Python's list?
Because...I have to tell you: England is not the only place where battered fish is an institution.
Honestly, I'm not sure if the dish dates back to Roman time but deep fried codfish fillet is a well known local recipe back home.

You can find it on the menu in any pizzeria but if you want to taste its top expression you need to go in a little piazza called Largo dei Librari half way along Via dei Giubbonari, just behind Campo de' Fiori, a beautiful little corner of Rome (and a personal favourite) where people stop to enjoy a bit of al fresco life.

Here under the simple sign 'Filetti di Baccala`' a little and extremely rustic trattoria family run makes the best battered codfish of the whole eternal city! No wonder why the place is always crowded at dinner time!

And since I am a supporter of `drinking local` I feel the urge to suggest a local wine with this dish.
In general, wine production in Lazio is often not that exciting but there are few exceptions of nice good wines that match perfectly the regional cuisine.

My personal choice, for tonight, is a wine produced by a very good cooperative in Cori, south of Rome. The Castore Cincinnato is based on the indigenous Bellone. It has delicate fruity aromas of pears and apples and a hint of vegetal. It's surprisingly fresh with the acidity needed to match a frittura and cleanse your palate. A medium body and some savory notes to finish.

Salute! (and never forget what the Romans did for you!!!)