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Wine and Charcuterie Matching - Brief Notes from a Tasting (2)
Andrew wrote: Was a well made wine, Betty, and I'd love to try it aga... [read more]

My Wine Week... In Pictures (5)
Dylan wrote: "That's me being expressive in the centre." Haha, you'r... [read more]

The Great South African Wine Trail 2009 (4)
TheWinesleuth wrote: That is an awesome idea! Anything to catch the (very) j... [read more]

Brief Notes from a Tasting: Vergelegen, South Africa (1)
Dylan wrote: There are three tree-types which give me a mystical fee... [read more]

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« April 2009 | Main

Bisol Prosecco and Cichetti (canapés)

The only thing I really wanted after a full days tasting at the London International Wine Fair was some food; the invite to a Bisol and canapé tasting was ideal.

Taking the Italian version of tapas, cichetti, and matching a different dish with a Prosecco from the Bisol range was the aim of the tasting at the newly opened Wine Theatre in Southwark. Not only a stylish venue and, I should add, free food and drink but a chat with the owner/chef too (who use to be the personal chef of Harrods owner Mohamed Al Fayed. Well, it impressed me!). They source their ingredients from the local markets of Borough and Smithfield and offer punters a free selection of cichetti everyday between 5:30 and 8pm. Surprisingly they find some reticence with us Brits on the take-up of the food; many expecting a hefty bill at the end I guess.

In Madrid I adore the tapas dishes - free or paid for; it is the main reason I returned there a couple of weeks back (for the tapas and seeing my old mate Roberto too of course). But this is cichetti, the Italian version, with the bubbles supplied by Bisol.

First with the 'basic' Bisol Jaio Prosecco a superb calamari brushetta

Bisol Jaio Prosecco and calamari brushetta
The newly released Bisol Jeio Rosé came with farfalle pasta with a salmon and dill sauce. Lots of dill with the pasta very al dente. For me the dill was a little too over-powering but the rosé demonstrated its food-loving credentials perfectly. Bisol Jeio Rosé  with farfalle pasta with a salmon and dill sauce

Charcuterie with a simply stunning, slightly sweet bread, studded with little bits of meat and cheese. This with the gorgeous Bisol Crede Prosecco.

Charcuterie with a slightly sweet bread, studded with little bits of meat and cheese with Bisol Crede Prosecco.

And finally a Chocolate Torte with a White Chocolate and Orange Sauce; served with the flagship, single vineyard, Bisol Cartizze Prosecco. The slight sweetness in the wine makes it terribly versatile; it was lovely with this orange and chocolate combination.

Chocolate Torte with a White Chocolate and Orange Sauce; served Bisol Cartizze Prosecco

Once again, sorry for the rather poor quality pictures; all the fault of the low light levels and a cameraman who had been sipping and spitting (a little) all day!

Wine and Charcuterie Matching - Brief Notes from a Tasting

Wine and Charcuterie Tasting
All it needed was our 'lecturer' to lob a stick of chalk at my head and I'd be right back at school. I ended up, as I did at The Misbourne, in the back row, this time stuck between old boy Brett and cheeky-quipping Douglas. Brett found a fascination with the bread... Douglas was, well, being Douglas. I tried desperately to not indulge in their mischief...

We were here for a Circle of Wine Writers Wine and Charcuterie Tasting hosted by Fiona ( at the new Terroirs wine bar in William IV Street, London. The Charcuterie comprising a delicately flavoured Jamon de Teruel from Spain, a nicely textural Duck Rillette, Saucisson Sec from the Pyrenees and a garlic and spice Terrine Terroirs.

Rather than the 'usual suspects' to accompany charcuterie (simple rustic French wines) Fiona picked a more eclectic list of bottles to sample, each calling on the intrinsic flavours of the food (smoky, spicy, garlic). The only thing not offered was a sparkling...

Rose Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Maitres Vignerons de Saint-Tropez Rosé Carte Noire, 2008, France.
Price: £9.99 Nicolas
A nice opening shot - and as expected a fine match for the array of foods. Nice berry fruits and a decently long, dry, finish. A 'standard' rosé wine for such fare and I thought a superb foil to the Terrine, although others disagreed.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Assyrtiko Hatzidakis, 2007, Santorini, Greece.
Stockist: Caves de Pyrene Waitrose Price: £9.00
Not a wine I would ever have considered, interesting but didn't really work for me lacking a bit of zip and zing. Seafood and shellfish apparently work better. The pepper edge in the saucisson was really emphasised by the wine.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Weingut Christmann Riesling IDIG Grosses Gewaechs, 2007, Pfalz, Germany.
Stockist: Charles Taylor Price: £35
Not being a lover of Riesling - heresy I realise - I did enjoy this wine. Very young still but the way I like it; a touch of weighty sweetness, superb fruit but sadly not a wine that worked well with any of the food. Too delicate in flavour I think; but then what do the Germans eat with all their charcuterie?

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Chapel Hill Verdelho, 2007, Australia.
£9.49 in independents including Planet of the Grapes, Ongar Wines Ltd, Australian Wines Online, Rehills of Jemond, Badmington Wines
A zesty citrus and nettle wine; far too forceful with the charcuterie though.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Lambrusco Reggiano Concerto, 2007, Emilia Romagna, Italy.
Stockist: Everywine, Harrods, Booths Price: £8-£10 In terms of matching with the food this was the star. A combination of bubbles, a bitter twist to the wine and perfect acidity was great with the rillettes and the (positive) fat of the jamon.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Jean-Luc Matha Cuvee Lairis Marcillac, 2006, Marcillac, France
Stockist: Caves de Pyrène Price: £9.99
Not convinced this rustic country wine (from the South West of France) really worked as well as others seemed to think. Remained rustic and overly tannic for me.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Domaine Jean Foillard Morgon, 2007, Beaujolais, France
Price: around £16 a bottle from Caves de Pyrene,
I believe there were a couple of markedly different bottles of this being poured; I managed to get some of the 'good' bottle. The lack of tannins and the soft fruit brought out the wonderful sweetness in the jamon particularly. For someone who never drinks Beaujolais this was a revelation; my second choice for the top match.

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Isabel Estate Pinot Noir, 2005, New Zealand
£18.55 Berry Brothers & Rudd
A lovely fruit-forward Pinot that worked with the charcuterie much better than expected. Lovely spicy, sprightly palate that seemed particularly good with the duck rillette (duck plus pinot is always a good choice) and managed the garlic infused Terrine too.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Manzanilla La Gitana Sherry, NV, Spain.
£8.49 at Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury, Majestic, Somerfield, Wine Rack, plus independents.
Not a fan of Riesling nor Sherry; more howls of derision from my neighbours. Despite being a tapas favourite this wine just trampled over all the food. Far too forceful and strong. The salty component matched the salt in the jamon OK but the delicate flavour was lost. Unsurprisingly this was many peoples preferred choice.

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: El Grifo Canari, 1997, Lanzarote, Spain.
A cream sherry (or rather sherry-style wine) from Lanzarote. Far too sweet for the charcuterie but a marvellous opportunity to try such a delicious wine. There you go - sherry and delicious in the same sentence!

A learning experience; just much more enjoyable than my (detested) school days. I did miss the juvenile giggling at the cookery teachers hairy legs encased in green tights mind...

Fiona has posted her own take on the session on Matching Food and Wine.

My Wine Week... In Pictures

This week has been the most important in the British wine trade calendar, especially for those members of the Circle of Wine Writers. The three day London International Wine Fair with its accompanying flurry of parties, private tastings and get-togethers was held at Excel in London and the Circle of Wine Writers held their annual dinner and a pre-dinner Wine and Charcuterie Tasting last Monday.

Just one day at the London show for me but plenty of wines tasted and lovely people met, one after show party (a Bisol Prosecco Aperitivo tasting at the Wine Theatre, Southwark) and of course the Circle's dinner and tasting. Sorry the pictures are not that great - low light being the main culprit.

First the Circle of Wine Writers Charcuterie Tasting. That's Wink Lorch (of Wine Travel Guides) at the table in front.

Circle of Wine Writers Wine and Charcuterie Tasting

And the Catavino duo, Ryan and Gabriella

Circle of Wine Writers Wine and Charcuterie Tasting - Catavino

Then the Circle Dinner. Here we have Fiona Beckett (matchingfoodandwine) on the right and Gabriella of Catavino on the left over looking a particularily fine chunk of aged Gouda.

Circle of Wine Writers Annual Dinner

Not many pictures from the Wine Show being more interested in tasting but here we have Greg and Francesca from NakedWines (of note because they embrace the social media 'scene')

Naked Wines - Greg and Francesca

And Andre Ribeirinho of wine social site Adegga

Andre Ribeirinho of Adegga

See also this picture from Bibendum Wines showing thirstforwine, thewinesleuth, johners, efowler and Jeanne the Cooksister. That's me being expressive in the centre.

Finally, at the Wine Threatre with the energetic chap from Bisol.

Bisol Prosecco Tasting

Full notes on all these tastings to follow...

Prosecco - Two New Versions (Brown Brothers and Bisol)

bisol jeio prosecco roseWe all know Brown Brothers as Australian pioneers of the unusual grape variety - amongst the usual shelves of Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet you'll find more esoteric bottlings of Vermentino, Tempranillo, Albarino and Sangiovese all from Brown Brothers.

New to their range is a Prosecco, the Italian sparkling wine (made from the grape of the same name). Plantings of this grape in Australia are miniscule. In fact, I wasn't aware there was any Prosecco grow outside of Italy until this sample arrived.

"This is the first release of the Brown Brothers Prosecco. The wine is part of our limited release range and will be available at Cellar Door and restaurants for this first release. The Prosecco is another example of Brown Brothers innovation and experimentation as we bring more and more styles of wine to our portfolio. The Prosecco has a pale gold colour with subtle green hues and a delicate nose displaying citrus, apple and pear characters. These characters follow through to the palate which is fresh and crisp with tight natural acidity from the cool climate fruit. Prosecco is made to drink young while at its light and delicate best."

Champagne/Sparkling Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Brown Brothers Prosecco, 2008, King Valley, Victoria, Australia.
Available from Christopher Piper Wines £11.13 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
Delicate fizz of the first order.. Lovely deep colour and firmer palate than an Italian version. Fresh, bubbly, apple, a litte citrus and flowery. A fine aperitif. Stylish packaging too. Alcohol 12%.
Scribblings Rating - 92/100 [4 out of 5]

Bisol is one of the largest Prosecco producers in Italy; but a producer that retains quality and finesse in its large range. Has it really been two years since I enjoyed the Bisol dinner at l'Ortolan? Some superb Prosecco and Food matches that evening. Just added to the Bisol range is a rosé:

Champagne/Sparkling Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Bisol Jeio Rosé, NV, Veneto, Italy.
Available from Bibendum Wines £10.01. [More: Adegga / Snooth]
As with all decent rosés it is the colour that attracts; here its a firm rose colour with hints of orange. Delicate cherry and rose aromas and flavours and a great mass of refined bubbles. Light, fresh and delicate. Citrusy, a touch of sweetness countering the acidity. New to the UK. Alcohol 11.5%.

The Bisol was designed with food matching in mind; so recommended as an awesome match with shrimp, lobster, seafood in general and salami. For me though a vividly coloured Baked Beetroot Risotto made for a rather scrumptious match.
Scribblings Rating - 92/100 [4 out of 5]

UPDATE: Technically the Bisol is not a Prosecco; it is not made from the Prosecco grape but from a mix of Pinot Noir (95%) and Merlot (5%) which accounts for the colour! All the grapes are frm Bisol owned vieayrds and it is made in a similar way.

Italy Abroad recently posted details on Prosecco being bottled in Germany and the various DOCG/DOC labeling rules that now apply; if that is your bent.

Brief Notes from a Tasting: Vergelegen, South Africa

the gardens at Vergelegen, South Africa
A 300 year history permeates Vergelegen; one of South Africa's most prestigious, reknown and visited wineries in the Cape. The original homestead was built in 1700; originally a barren wilderness it was transformed into a vibrant farm with fruit orchards, orange groves, oak trees, vines, cattle and sheep. Passing through a succession of owners the estate was eventually purchased by Anglo American Farms in 1987. The last 21 years have seen a renaissance.

It is a wonderful spot for visitors; even if you have only a passing interest in wine - there's the oldest oak tree in Africa (a hollow Old English Oak believed to be 300 years old) and gardens aplenty (rose, herb, camellia, fynbos, hydrangea). The homestead is open to visitors and is full of classical Cape Dutch furniture and there are picnic areas too (although you don't bring your own food but buy pre-packed boxes at the estate) and, for posher-nosh, the Lady Philips Restaurant.

We were there for the wines though. A pouring of the Sauvignon Blanc was served alongside fresh oysters - to general acclaim of my compatriots, but not moi as I 'don't do' oysters. But my 'line fish' in the Lady Philips restaurant, later, was beautifully moist and accompanied the lightly oaked Vergelegen Chardonnay 2008 superbly [picture].

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Vergelegen Sauvignon Blanc, 2008, Western Cape, South Africa.
[More: Adegga / Snooth]
97% Sauvignon with the remainder being Semillon. Lovely crisp, frim fruit, fresh. Touches of fig, gooseberry and a pleasant leafy-ness (straw, green peppers, peas) Alcohol 13.5%.
Scribblings Rating - 88/100 [3.5 out of 5]

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Vergelegen Chardonnay, 2008, Western Cape, South Africa.
[More: Adegga / Snooth]
Medium bodied by design, 60% in oak giving a subtle oak-complexity, not too heavy either (medium bodied). Pear, cream, apple flavours; a typicla Chardonnay.
Scribblings Rating - 88/100 [3.5 out of 5]

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Vergelegen Reserve Sauvignon Blanc, 2008, Stellenbosch, South Africa
[More on Adegga / Snooth]
A single vineyard wine - the 2 hectare vinyard on the lower Schaapenberg. More complexity here with a little lees contact giving a creaminess to the flavour and a more rounded texture. Floral touches enliven the herbaceous palate. Minerals, peach stones and citrus play around too. Beautiful. Alcohol 14.5%.
Scribblings Rating - 92/100 [4 out of 5]

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Vergelegen Cabernet Reserve, 2005, Stellenbosch, South Africa.
Price: £9.99 [More on Adegga / Snooth]
Cabernet dominates here (91%) with Cabernet Franc and Merlot splitting the remainder. Superb berry aroma - very, very Bordeaux-like. Savoury depths, touches of herbs. Firm palate, but smooth until the great burst of tannin led blackfruits hits the tastebuds. The grapes were selected from Vergelegen's Stonepine, Rondekop, Rooiland and Kopland Vineyards. Alcohol 14.5%. Age worthy; a 2004 was also sampled.
Scribblings Rating - 92/100 [4 out of 5]

I've lost the original reference to this salad dish - but from the picture it comprises chickpeas, fresh tomatoes, parsley, rocket and goats cheese. The latter is of course a classic partner to Sauvignon Blanc. The Vergelegen Reserve Sauvignon was a superb match. vergelegen sauvignon blanc and a salad

Buying Vergelegen Wines: The Vineking offers a mixed case of Vergelegen wines for £105; otherwise check out the list of Top 5 South African Wine Retailers.

The Great South African Wine Trail 2009

South African Wine Trail Bus
Wines of South Africa is launching a new consumer marketing campaign, The Great South African Wine Trail. The wine trail, the centre piece of which is a carbon neutral, branded double-decker bus, will visit eight major city centres across the UK, offering samples of South Africa's leading wines to consumers and educating us all about the conservation initiatives in the Cape.

Featuring a cellar door, gardens of indigenous South African fynbos plants, living grape vines and a cluster of top South African winemakers, The Great South African Wine Trail will provide UK consumers with a real flavour of the Cape winelands, in their home cities. The tour beings on the 13th May at London's Excel (which is hosting the UK's major wine trade event at the time) before heading out, over two and a half weeks, to Edinburgh, via the Midlands, to the south coast, ending the trail back in London on 2nd June 2009.

Commenting on the activity, Jo Mason, UK market manager for WOSA, said:

"The aim of the campaign is to bring South African wine to life for UK wine drinkers, allowing them to taste the wide variety of wines the Cape has to offer, while developing a better understanding of the commitment the South African wine industry has to protecting the natural environment in which it grows wine - in particular to protecting and restoring the Cape Floral Kingdom. We expect The Great South African Wine Trail to reach over a million consumers, through PR and events."

No specific details on where the bus is actually stopping - apart from 'city centres' but the itinerary is:

Friday 15th May - Oxford
Tuesday 19th May - Edinburgh
Thursday 21st May - Leeds
Friday 22nd May - Birmingham
Tuesday 26th May - Bristol
Wednesday 27th May - Plymouth
Friday 29th May - Brighton
Tuesday 2nd June - London