Sunday, July 23, 2017

Italian wines

As you can probably guess I've been on holiday this last couple of weeks in Italy (Tuscany), had some top quality R&R with the family and also sampled some of the great wines of the region, a couple of new ones and some old favourites, here are my notes. 

First off (above) we have Flaccianello Della Pieve, made from 100% Sangiovese grapes plus some loving care and attention including 18 months in new oak barrels, an absolute belter! As a side note we drank this beauty in a wine shop slash restaurant in Florence where you could wander around the shelves and pick something nice then have it with dinner for no more than the normal retail ticket price - what a brilliant idea, shame there are no such places in the UK (or at least they're as rare as hen's teeth). It means wine lovers can actually afford to drink decent bottles of wine without the obligatory 2-3 X price mark up for the pleasure of having the bottle opened for you. This bottle was just under 60 Euro's, in a UK restaurant you would pay at least £120 for the exact same thing, probably more, quite sobering.

Next, Il Poggione, a classic Brunello di Montalcino made from the same grape as the previous wine but totally different in character, really classy and full bodied with spice and tobacco under-tones and a great life ahead of it. Great value for money in a restaurant in Florence, only 50 Euros with a retail price in the UK of around £50-60, again the absence of a ridiculous mark-up was refreshing, and the food was excellent too. Note the home-made limoncello in the plastic bottle straight out of the freezer in the background, things got a bit messy after this.

Next we have an old favourite, Tignanello from the Antinori estate; a classic "Super Tuscan" wine that blends the Italian grape Sangiovese with more "international" varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A super wine, bursting with flavours of red and black berries, vanilla, chocolate with hints of mint and coffee on the finish. Another stunning price too; back home you'd pay at least £200 for this in a London restaurant but in a rustic hotel in San Gimignano it sets you back less than 80 Euro's I couldn't resist (even though it was the most expensive wine on their list!)

Now a wild-card. Italy isn't normally associated with the Syrah grape, it's more at home in Australia (where it's called Shiraz) or the Northern Rhone in France but this one came the coastal region of Tuscany called Bolgheri. Not expensive (around 20 Euro's in a restaurant in Chianti) but a great value wine, plum and violet with super acidity, easy to drink with Italian staples like Ravioli or Spaghetti with meat and tomato sauce; unfortunately, probably impossible to get in the UK.

Lastly a new wine for me, Il Bruciato, again from the Antinori estate and again from Bolgheri, but this time a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah (65/20/15%) this one was a little more pricey at around 30 Euro in a restaurant in San Gimignano, but a real surprise. I was expecting a rather ordinary commercial (large production) wine but this was really good; nice vanilla/oak, red berries, good balance and a great finish with some spice notes, delightful with steak and cannellini beans. The production of this wine is large so it's easily obtainable in the UK, around £22 in Waitrose if you're that way inclined!

In summary a fine-wine extravaganza, super Italian wines paired with splendid food; what more can you ask for?

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