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Monthly Archives: April 2013

  • Paving the way to greendom


    The Ivy Club seemed an apt location for the Drinks Business Green Awards 2013.  Well, it was when my impression of the Ivy was a restaurant covered in ivy. I soon realised however, that my normal office attire put me well into the “under-dressed” category as we proceeded up the swanky glass staircase and got ourselves lost in the depths of the stained glass-clad club before locating the top floor bar where the Awards were being presented.  


    Yealands, our top sustainable producer, had been nominated for two awards (The Drinks Business Green Award – Green Company of the Year and the Drinks Business Sustainability Award).  Thus I found myself at the Ivy Club with Giles James, Yealands’ Business Development Manager, and Ryan Hanson, River Cottage’s Front of House Manager (both pictured below) awaiting the results with perhaps not enough apprehension...

     Yealands’ awards list is already rather extensive including “Producers of the World’s best Sauvignon Blanc” from IWC (International Wine Challenge) and winner of the International Green Awards 2012 so without getting too confident, we were crossing fingers for perhaps one of the two nominations.  Nevertheless, as the awards rolled out, it became clear that we had been pipped to the post for both the nominations firstly by Miguel Torres for Green Company of the Year and then by Esporão for the Sustainability Award.

     In the end, we decided not to be too disheartened by the results.  Our competitors were worthy; working on a smaller scale can often throw up greater challenges in becoming entirely sustainable and their effort was well worth the awards.  Yealands, carbon neutral from day one of its existence, has helped pave the way for green wineries worldwide so it’s only right that those who now follow in their footsteps deserve some of the credit.

     The whole experience drew me to the conclusion that the phrase “It’s not the winning, but the taking part that counts” is perhaps at its most relevant when it comes to being green.  So I walked all the way to Victoria instead of getting a taxi.

  • Under the volcano

    Mount Etna: 3,400 metres high, Europe's most active volcano, and its highest. A symbol of Sicily since ancient times (when a Cyclops was reputed to live in a cave on its flanks), and one of its most exciting wine regions nowadays. When the vine-louse phylloxera tore through the vineyards of Burgundy, Bordeaux and down through the rest of Europe, decimating crops and destroying livelihoods, Sicily, thanks to its island state was one of the last to be hostage to it. For a period, the wines of Sicily were much in demand. Etna, thanks to its proximity to the port of Catania was a popular source of wines for a thirsty Europe.

    And so it is that there exist vineyards up to 1,000 metres up the slopes of this vast volcano which are planted with ungrafted vines, some over 100 years old.

    Planeta, in their quest to understand and reflect all the different terroirs that this island has to offer, bought and planted around 16 hectares of Carricante (Etna's great white wine grape) and Nerello Mascalese (its red counterpart) a few years ago.  Last year opened their new winery on the slopes, Feudo di Mezzo. Whilst the winery was under construction, they came across this incredible vineyard of old Nerello vines (above). Some are certainly over 80 years old, a few are clearly ungrafted (so pre-Phylloxera). Etna erupting
















    As if standing in this amazing, beautiful vineyard wasn't enough, whilst we were there, the mighty volcano began erupting. Although the craters from which the explosions come are about 5 miles from this vineyard, the sight of huge columns of ash being blasted into the air is still quite awe-inspiring.

    As Etna continued to rumble like a distant thunderstorm, we checked in at the local wine bar, 'Ox', and asked the owner if he was worried. He laughed; "this is normal. we'd be worried if these small eruptions didn't happen, then we'd have something like Vesuvius on our hands!"

  • Have chef, will travel


    This week was artichoke week in Sicily (what, you mean you didn’t know? Ed) where Mandrarossa’s head chef Bonetta dell’Oglio rounded up an elite brigade of Sicilian ladies from Menfi to teach people how to cook seasonal produce. Enotria got in on the action and invited some of our top Mandrarossa customers to send their chefs out from the UK to share their knowledge and to learn with “le signore della brigata”. Anyone who’s been lucky enough to visit Sicily will tell you that the local traditional cooking is some of the best food you will ever eat, so the visitors were pretty excited to be there. Martin Henley, Head Chef from Cedar Court Grand in York, Chiara Massone, from Aberdeen restaurant Rustico, and Gary Bell from Enotria stalwarts Salvo’s were all put to work in the very rustic kitchen at Mandrarossa’s cookery school. Lunch in the Sicilian sunshine was a very happy affair and the UK team didn’t let the side down, faithfully following the local recipes. They didn’t have much time to pause though, as they were on cookery duties for Settesoli head honchos in the evening too! The cookery school is one of the ways in which Mandrarossa demonstrate that their company is all about the community which it such a big part of – some 70% of Menfi families are involved in some way with the winery. There is no better way to appreciate what Mandrarossa stands for than with a delicious plate of home prepared Sicilian food - and a glass of something cool and refreshing from the winery!

  • "A sizzling Syrah"

    Jane MacQuitty of The Times has chosen Domaine Robin's fantastic Cuvee Alberic Bouvet in her Saturday column. Ms MacQuitty says "Four generations of Ronins have lived at this estate and Gilles took over 17 years ago, immediately reducing yields, spurning fertilisers and building a gravity-fed winery. Such dedication has paid off, with Domaine Robin now making some of its best syrahs yet from 40 year old vines. This beautiful Alberic Bouvet blend is a mix of early and later maturing plots, creating a sizzling syrah with some gorgeous, bold, violet, blackberry and bramble fruit, plus a peppery, perfumed finish. Surprisingly good now, or put it away until 2018 for rich, spicy, gamely flavours to emerge."

    For full details on the wine go here.

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