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Monthly Archives: October 2010

  • Upgrade your wine thinking

  • Decanter at Colomé

    Christelle Guibert, Tastings Director for Decanter Magazine, recently visited Bodega Colomé high up in the Andean foothills in Argentina. Here is her blog from Colome I’m on my way to visit the highest vineyard in the world: Colomé. Getting there is both an ordeal (especially if you suffer from vertigo and back problems) and an amazing experience. The four-hour drive in a 4 x 4 goes up to 4,000 metres above sea level and takes us through a range of scenery – from wild open mountains, multi-coloured rocks, and dry river beds and vast fields of cactus. With over 300 days of sunshine and an arid 120mm of rain a year, Colomé is a world apart; the 39,000 ha at 2,000m above sea-level is planted with 75ha of biodynamic vineyards of which 11ha are pre-phylloxera vines, the rest is just desert. The estancia also has a hotel, a restaurant with food sourced from the Colomé farm, and 20 horses. Thibault Delmotte, the Burgundian resident winemaker, took me on a tour of the vineyards and cellar with a fascinating barrel tasting from the different plots. The Colomé range includes the first label, Amalaya, from grapes sourced in Cafayate; the Estate and Reserve lines, some special lots of Syrah and Tannat and some bespoke blends for Marks & Spencer and the Gaucho restaurants. Torrontes, when overripe, can be a “one glass only” wine but the 2010 Torrontes is spot on, no sickly aromatic characters but an elegant nose of delicate florals and a nice purity and freshness. The 2009 Amalaya is exactly what you expect from a first label –full of pure fruit, well-balanced and very enjoyable to drink. The 2007 Estate Malbec has deep fruit and complexity with a direct freshness, fine tannins and minerality. The 2008 Reserve Syrah is a step ahead, but don’t be put off by the16% alcohol, the wine has concentration and power with a richness of fruit but still an amazing freshness from the acidity to support and balance the alcohol. Over dinner, we tasted Colomé’s wines side by side with its neighbouring producers and I must say Colomé’s have an extra dimension; they showed much more freshness, minerality and purity of fruit. Is it due to the altitude or the soil? I’d say both. The day of my visit, the Colomé team was waiting for the arrival of four ant doctors. Ants are a nightmare at Colomé. They ravage the vineyards by cutting the young leaves from the vines – they’ve cost the company $500,000 so far. At the moment there are 11ha of vines are not producing because of ant damage. The ‘A-team’ is going to spend the next few weeks in the vineyards studying the ant behaviour and hopefully come up with a magic potion. The next day I went to see the new venture: Altura Maxima. At 3,111m above sea level, this is the highest vineyard on the planet, although not commercially in production yet. In 2003, Donald Hess added the 25,000ha of desert to his portfolio, two-and-a-half hours north of Colome. On my arrival, I was welcomed by Caspar Eugster, the Swiss-born viticulturist. He’s the caretaker of the 25ha vineyards which have just been planted with Malbec, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Tempranillo, Syrah, Torrontes and some Pinot Noir. This estate is even more secluded than Colomé, only 4 people live there with the local villagers, a few llamas and millions of cacti. The Pinot Noir plot, called La Joya (‘the jewel’) by the locals, is proving the most challenging. Caspar is learning to deal with vine threats such as wild donkey, wild hare but worst of all, ants and frost. This year, they managed to save some grapes and made six bottles of Pinot Noir; according to Caspar, the result is very promising. I guess that is what keeps him going. In 2009 Colomé opened the James Turrell museum – the first in the world entirely dedicated to the renowned American artist (fans make pilgrimages here just for the museum). It contains nine light installations including a skyspace and some drawings of his latest project, the volcanic crater in Arizona. The exhibition, a labyrinth of light, left me disorientated but strangely calm. Driving back to Salta, we were stuck behind a Colomé lorry. There is no way around it: every single bottle of Colomé wine has to survive that four-hour unpaved road journey before they are shipped around the world. My Colomé trip will stay in my memory for a very long time and next time I’m enjoying a bottle of the estate Torrontes, I will raise a glass to the dedicated team at the top of the Andes. Visit

  • Perfectly Franck

    Franck Massard is a sommelier-turned-winemaker. After a successful decade spent working at some of the best restaurants in London, Franck decided to set up with a friend and make his own wine. Here he describes what the fruits of their labours have become - Huellas. [flv: 300 200]

  • Upgrade your wine thinking

  • Tre Bicchieri champions

    As ever at this time of year the Gambero Rosso, Italy's foremost wine publication, releases (tantalisingly, one region each day) the coveted 'Tre Bicchieri' (three glasses) awards. The Gambero Rosso team taste each year over 2300 wines, and this year 402 won the highest distinction. We are really pleased to have 16 wines which were awarded Tre Bicchieri in our range. From the whole length of the country, we hope it shows how consistently excellent our Italian range is. Everything from top class Barolo to Nero d'Avola and 3 different Fianos made the grade. Roberta Ursa, of Mandrarossa in Sicily, has just returned from picking up their award for Cartagho in Rome. She says "I felt good sharing the same stage as Franco Biondi Santi, Angelo Gaia and Sassicaia!". A worthy champion indeed. Here are the winning wines: North West Gavi di Gavi Nicolas Bergaglio 2009 Lugana Superiore Molceo 2008 Ottella Nino Negri 5 Stelle Sfursat 2007 North East Il Rosso dell Abazia 2007 Serafini e Vidotto Prosecco Extra Dry Giustino B 2009 Ruggeri Amarone Classico Bertani 2003 Vintage Tunina 2008 Jermann Central Italy Conero Cumaro 2007 Umani Ronchi Castello di Fonterutoli 2007 Chianti Classico Riserva della Famiglia 2007 Cecchi Vino Nobile Asinone 2007 Poliziano Vernaccia di San Giminiano Riserva 2007 Panizzi South and Islands Fiano di Avellino Colli di Lapio 2009 Fiano di Avellino Pietracalda Feudi di San Gregorio 2009 Planeta Cometa 2009 Mandrarossa Cartagho 2008

  • Jason Atherton pops up

    Claire, Enotria's very own Master Sommelier, reports from a unique restaurant experience... Last week was the second edition of the London Restaurant Festival. The highlight of the first edition was the comeback of Pierre Koffmann and this year saw a Jason Atherton Pop up @ Binney street. After leaving Maze in may, Jason was much awaited for with his first solo act in London. This restaurant was only opened for 2 nights and all the profits went to Streetsmart, a charity helping the homeless. Having worked in the industry for over 10 years, I am still very attached to restaurant life and buzz, but I am now enjoying it sitting at a table! So when the opportunity arise to support Jason for this charitable evening, I couldn’t say no. Getting a table there was a bonus. Finding the place was a little bit tricky as we didn’t know what to expect. I was only told that Jason put his name above the door… well Yes… he tagged it! And this has set the scene for the evening, a kind of underground restaurant combining a building site, my grandma's dining room, and an open kitchen! I was briefly told what the menu was going to be, in order to find the right wine match, but knowing what Jason can produce from a humble tomato, I was patiently waiting to see what it was going to be like! We started with a perfectly cooked Orkney Langoustine, with Lemon peel puree and Brandy head dressing. Langoustine and lemon… simple but well executed, the bitterness of the puree balanced the sweetness of the langoustine and the dressing served hot from a decanter into a brandy glass, was ideal match with Rias Baixas Albarino 2009 Bodegas Valminor. Limey, Zesty and mineral, with a touch of roundness on the palate. The Albarino was also paired with Colchester dressed crab, brown meat vinaigrette, pickled radish, sea herbs and sea lettuce. The iodine in the crab and the pickles went really well with the tangy acidity and minerality of the wine. The main consisted of 35 day aged Speyside beef fillet, braised cheek, organic carrot, garlic snail and creamed Linconshire potatoes. When I eat beef, I like the meat to melt in the mouth, it goes better with earthy wine! And this was great with the Chianti Classico Fonterutoli 2008. speyside beef What I liked about this pairing was the wine respecting the dish and every single flavours was going great together.the wine was full of youth, great tannins with a touch of earthiness. Jason is quite well known for bringing beetroots back on restaurant table so when I saw it as a dessert, we had to give it a go! Served in Carpaccio style with apples, pears, blackberry and a herb granita. Matching it with a muscat de saint Jean de Minervois Domaine Barroubio 2009 was a bit of a challenge at first but the flavours dominating in the dessert was more fruity and fresh rather than earthy and it went really well to finish such meal. After dinner we had a good talk with Jason about the organisation of opening a pop up restaurant, which he did for fun! His own new adventure with the opening of his restaurant early 2011. He told us in secret all the innovating ideas he has for his own place around food, wine and socializing. I know you all love a gossip, so I’ll share one with you… It’s going to be amazing! One our way out we saw the kitchen pilling up the plates into boxes, so this was really it.. A big thank you to Jason and all the team for great support over the years. See you very soon. Claire Thevenot MS

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