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Monthly Archives: November 2009

  • Planeta launches cask finish whiskies

    Renowned Sicilian wine producer Planeta has just launched three different limited edition whiskies, all finished in old Planeta wine casks.

    planeta-blu

    Last year, we showed various Planeta wines to Alex Bruce, renowned ‘whisky nose’ at the Adelphi Whisky Company, with a view to finding suitable mature malt whiskies to ‘finish’ in used (first fill) Planeta barriques.

    With Alex's help, we chose a cask of 18 year old Macduff partnered with a Planeta Chardonnay barrel, a 12 year old Jura with a Syrah barrel. Both of these whiskies had been matured in Bourbon casks, which is the norm in Scotland.

    The Enotria noses also partnered an 18 year old Mortlach with used Santa Cecilia barrels. Because the Mortlach had previously been in a double sized sherry butt, we needed two Santa Cecilia casks.

    Although quantities of each whisky produced are tiny, response to the whiskies has been phenomenal, with orders for over 500 bottles in Scotland alone. They each sell for £38 ex VAT.

    Here's a tasting note for the Syrah finish, to whet your appetite:

    "Notes of marshmallow, sugared almonds, touch of acacia honey, some nice baked apple and cinnamon nuances coming through with hints of orange barley confectionery, very inviting and complex. Palate is full and grippy with notes of orange zest, cloves and cinnamon..."

    Want to know more? Click here

  • More from Barolo - Conterno Fantino and Monviso

    monviso2_gAfter an extensive and truffle-tastic lunch with Chiara Boschis and her good friend Fabio Fantino at the superb Trattoria La Posta in Monforte d'Alba, we drove to the very top of the hill upon which the town lies, to Fabio's family winery, Conterno Fantino. At over 500 metres, this commands one of the best views in the whole of the region. Sadly the famous nebbia or fog was returning in the dusk, but visible high to the west was the pyramid shaped summit of Monviso (3800m).

    Such an inspiring place to work! Fabio says that some days he just stares, open-mouthed, at the view for half an hour when he gets up. Near the winery are some Chardonnay vineyards they have recently planted (it being too high for Nebbiolo to prosper). Meanwhile, down in their immaculate cellars, vintages of the mighty crus, including Vigna del Gris and Sori Ginestra, slumber in new oak barriques.

    The tasting showed the power of these wines, as well as the pedigree of 2006 as it begins to be released. This will be a vintage for long term, with masses of tannin to balance fruit, acidity and elegance. Guido, who is Fantino senior and co-founder of the winery, dropped by as we tasted and made suitably heroic gestures to show his opinion of the power of the vintage.

    Breathlessly we left CF and set the Sat Nav for Parusso, a (theoretical) 5 minute drive back down the hill. This was a mistake. Half an hour later we found ourselves up a dirt track without a winery (or anything much) in sight. A 17-point turn in the Passat later (not aided by button operated foot brake!) we headed to the true location of Marco Parusso's winery. Anna welcomed us there and confirmed we weren't the first to foolishly trust in GPS to find them. Anyroad, the Parusso methods were interesting - including letting the grapes 'rest' for 3-4 days after picking. Marco believes this gives much healthier, juicier bunches. He also produces two Sauvignon Blanc wines - something of a curiosity in the region - but very successful nonetheless. After tasting his Barolos, we decamped once more to Bra, and home of Matteo Ascheri.

  • Black swans, little rascals, and truffles

    piemonte Just returned from a great trip to Piemonte with three journalists. Enotria has a wide selection of Barolo producers on our books, and it is a real eye opener to spend a couple of days visiting them all! Jane Parkinson (Drinks Business), Amy Wislocki (Decanter) and Victoria Moore (The Guardian) joined me as we braved the November fog and trusted our sat nav to take us down the A6 to Fontanafredda. This mighty Barolo house is located on an estate which includes an old hunting lodge favoured by Victor Emmanuel, King of Savoie. These days they are a throroughly modern operation, with 120 hectares of prime Piedmontese vineyard - and a few black swans in their pond too! At Fontanafredda we tasted their 3 cru Barolos, Vigna La Villa, Vigna La Rosa, and La Lazzarrito from the two great vintages of 2004 and 2001. Each wine had a really distinct character - easy to see why Barolo is often called the Burgundy of Italy - the terroir is so important. La Rosa 04 was a popular favourite , all silky, smooth, velvety fruit and finish, but La Lazzarito 01 also found favour thanks to its musky, muscular power - quite different in style, and all due to the Serralunga soil as we were told. After this we all piled into the hired Passat and made the short journey over to Barolo itself and E. Pira. Chiara Boschis has run this tiny winery almost single handed (of which more later) and her wines reflect a single minded devotion to purity, nature and character. She took us through a fascinating vertical of her two cru wines, Via Nuova and Cannubi; starting with the current juice which was undergoing its malolactic as we stood next to the barrels! After 09, 08 and 07 we started to see how a small producer can be faithful to the terroir, even if they risk alienating those who would prefer to taste the same wine year on year. Chiara for me is like a dressmaker; her creations vary from season to season, but there is no mistaking her handywork behind this level of craftsman (or rather craftswoman)-ship. To be continued...

  • Urlar!

    logo_urlarGrowing sustainably - Urlar joins Enotria's New Zealand portfolio

    New Zealand's Annual Trade tasting at Lord's on 12 January 2010 will see the latest exciting addition to Enotria's portfolio. Joining the likes of Trinity Hill, Lawson's Dry Hills and Quartz Reef is biodynamic winery Urlar.

    Urlar, whose name means 'The Earth' in Gaelic, is located in Gladstone, on the southern end of the North Island, and is the brainchild of Angus and Davina Thompson, who emigrated from Scotland in 2004.

    The ethos of the winery is economic and environmental sustainability. This includes organic practices such as recycling through composts and liquid manures and increasing plant bio diversity through inter-row crops. The winery expects to achieve organic certification in 2010, and joins the Enotria range with their 2009 Sauvignon Blanc and 2008 Pinot Noir.

    Owner Angus Thomson says: "We are thrilled to appoint Enotria, with their very strong on premise position, as our distributor in the UK.

    "Our wines are made to be drunk with food. Like most chefs, we feel the better the ingredients, the better the final product, and with that in mind we hope that the quality of these young wines will speak for themselves, and grace the finest of wine lists across the country."

    Daniel Hart, New World wine buyer at Enotria, says:

    “We're delighted to be representing Urlar from 2010 as they add a new dimension to the successful and growing sustainable section of our portfolio.”

    For more information on Urlar wines, please visit www.urlar.co.nz

  • Tooma River Brut NV

  • Fizz from the volcano

    Most interesting wine tasted lately has to be a sparkling Carricante from our friends at Planeta. The story behind the wine goes like this: Planeta planted vineyards on the slopes of Mount Etna just over 4 years ago. The first grapes were harvested from there - a very small crop - in 2008. Alessio Planeta, who heads up the winemaking for these Sicilian innovators, decided that as the quantity was small but the quality encouraging, he would make an experimental sparkling wine. The grape variety is Carricante, which is indigenous to Etna. Francesca Planeta poured the wine from unmarked stoppered bottles. What were we expecting? To be honest, I had no real idea what to expect, but the wine was a revelation. Made by the methode traditionelle (with second fermentation in the bottle), the wine had light, quite low intensity of bubbles, similar in my mind to a vintage Champagne with a few years of development behind it. On the palate, it was well balanced, with nice lemon fruit, good acidity and plenty of character. Had I been served it blind I would have guessed at a mid priced Grande Marque vintage Champagne. Certainly not a wine in its first ever vintage from a volcano located some 1800 kms further south! Planeta's first commercial release from the Etna vineyard will be a still white wine, but this is an amazing and intriguing foretaste of the Etna project.

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