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  • When East meets West

    “Food matching is all about taking risks and thinking outside the box,” says Enotria&Coe Wine Director, Direu Vianna Junior MW.

    Last Wednesday we were able to bring this sentiment to life, with an event for a select group of customers, pairing a prestigious line-up of sparkling and white wines from the North East of Italy, with the sophisticated, contemporary Japanese delicacies dished up at Sake no Hana.

    With an Italian portfolio and set of producers that are second to none – vibrant, interesting and classic in equal parts – we wanted to break down the pre-conceived idea that wines from the boot are best paired with Italian food.

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    Indeed, E&C’s Italian Director of Buying, Sergio De Luca, believes the freshness and diversity of Italian wines – in particular white varieties –  means they’re a perfect match for Japanese cuisine.

    “The fragrance and elegance of Japanese food, is extremely well complemented by Italian wines.

    “Rather than aromatic or spicy wines, this range of white wines from the North of Italy have a beautiful freshness and subtle fruit, which can be successfully explored through Sake no Hana’s dishes,” Sergio says.

    Wednesday’s tasting journey began with Ruggeri, one of our most historic suppliers and a quality benchmark in the area. The success of Prosecco has opened the door to other sparkling wines from Italy, and next up we explored the most recognised bottle-fermented Italian wines from Ferrari. As for the whites, guests delighted in a selection of wines from Bertani and Anselmi in Venteto, to Colterenzio in Alto Adige and Jermann in Friuli Venezia Giulia.

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    After tasting a bounty of impressive sparklers and whites – true expressions of their terroir and that capture the elegance of Italy – guests were treated to an array of inspired Japanese delicacies, including white miso soup with nameko mushrooms, sea bass sashimi, smoked duck breast, and tempura sushi.

    Interestingly, the concept of pairing Italian wines with Japanese food isn’t a foreign one for premium sparkling producer Ferrari.

    “Japan is a historic market for Ferrari, not only for the blanc de blanc, but also for the rosé. It works very well with sashimi, for example,” says Ferrari Export Manager Dean Lapthorne.

    “In Italy we don’t generally tend to pair our wines with Japanese food, but when it is done, people generally go for something like a Barolo, which is fine if you have a fish like salmon which is quite fatty, but if you’re having white sashimi these clean whites and sparklers are ideal.”

    Considering Ferrari’s President Matteo Lunelli’s favourite cuisine is Japanese – with a glass of bubbly on the side – it’s no surprise that Alfio Ghezzi, the chef at Ferrari’s two Michelin Star restaurant does experiment with some sashimi elements. 

    IMG_-mgvf5qTAKE FIVE: Tobias Brauweiler, Master Sommelier and General Manager at Sake no Hana

    What do you look for in a wine for your list at Sake no Hana?

    As with all of our restaurants around the globe, Asian food is very challenging to match, yet very exciting. We run a very selective wine program where all wines are challenged to the limits, and really need to perform on all levels in order to make it onto the wine list. At Sake no Hana we hold a monthly ‘Oshuban’ tasting, which identifies wines which do particularly well with sashimi. These wines have a special place on the wine list; they are unpredictable, follow no pattern, and surprise all of us every time.

    Why, as a Master Sommelier, do you believe intimate events with producers are important?

    It is always informative to attend a wine tasting in a big event space, but to get the best from the winemakers and their wines it needs to be intimate and almost one on one. These small, individual, focused tastings are important for the relationship between the customer or sommelier and the winemaker.

    Share with us the most rewarding part of your job.

    Being with people who appreciate the same good things in life. Good service, good food, and good wine.

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  • What to drink this Valentine's Day

    We all love an excuse to splurge on bottle of something special, and what better occasion than Valentine’s Day? Choosing the perfect tipple can be tricky, so to help you avoid the cluster of cliché drinks on offer, some of our talented wine and spirits buyers have selected a collection that are sure to spark the romance.

    Whether you’re all loved up, or foot-loose and fancy free, wine buyer Harriet Kininmonth has you sorted.

    The date – romantic, cosy dinner at home on a cold, winter’s night. I’m thinking roaring fire, candles, and all things hygge. Impress your loved one with a rich, silky and brooding Malbec, sure to warm the heart. The El Esteco Estate Malbec is the perfect choice – hailing from the oxygen-starved, high-altitude vineyards of the Cafayate Valley in Salta, Argentina, it’s packed with rich and concentrated flavours of coffee, blueberry and spice, but is as fresh as they come.

    The party – who says that only couples get to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Don’t sit at home feeling sorry for yourself, invite some mates over and celebrate in style with a delicious bottle of boutique fizz from Spain. Franck Massard’s Mas Sardanas Cava Brut Nature is not your average cheap plonk from Spain. A hand-crafted, stylish, and premium fizz, drier than a prosecco and ideally paired with food – a girl’s gotta eat!

    For something slightly left of centre, and to spice things up a touch, spirits buyer Paul Hunter, nominates (with a generous lashing of tongue in check, mind you), the infamous tonic wine, Buckfast. “I like to drink two bottles of Buckfast every Valentine’s Day – it sets the tone appropriately for my romantic misadventures.”

    For those of you not in the know, Buckfast was first concocted by Benedictine monks in Devon, and is regarded as an aphrodisiac in the West Indies. However, it’s also recently gained a reputation as the drink of choice for debaucherous youths.

  • A brief sojourn in Ribeauvillé

    For two days last week Jon, Elisa and Bérenger packed their bags and headed east to the picturesque Alsatian village Ribeauvillé, for their annual visit to Trimbach. Over the two days, the trio tasted more than 30 wines from the classic range all the way up to Grand Cru. Here, Bérenger gives us a sneak peak of what to expect from the 2014 and 2015 vintages.

    2014 will be remembered as a cool vintage in Alsace with lots of problems due to the insect Drosophila suzukii (an Asian fruit fly). Some growers in the region lost up to 30% of their crop to the pesky fly, which penetrates the skin of the grape and spoils the fruit. However, 2014 was an excellent vintage for Trimbach, particularly for their Riesling.

    The Trimbach wines we tasted showed a focused, linear character, with beautiful balance and purity. They have excellent ageing potenial and their minerality and freshness will help them to develop gracefully over time, although this does mean they’re quite austere to drink now. My favorite wine was the Riesling Selection de Vieilles Vignes – an elegant, vibrant and very stylish wine.

    The CFE and and Clos St Hune did not lack richness, but were also marked by great tension throughout and a very inviting saline finish. Although the fruit flies hurt the Gewürztraminer and the Pinot Gris grapes more, the Trimbach wines made from these varietals are marked by elegance, balance and a lovely aromatic range.

    2015 could not be more different from its predecessor. This was an easy vintage; warm and sunny, which allowed Trimbach to produce phenomenal wines. The only problem was the severity of the drought and the heat. The region only had rain in June and very high temperatures throughout early July. The rain in August really helped the vines, while September was warm and dry. Because of these extreme summer conditions, the picking timing was key. Alcohol progressed very quickly in September, with potential alcohols growing by as much as two degrees in some vineyards.

    The wines produced by Pierre Trimbach reflect the generosity of the summer season, and they’re expressive, ripe and sexy. Jean Trimbach likes to describe the wines from this vintage as “envoutants!” (mesmerising). Our Master of Wine Jon could not disagree with Jean’s comment!

    The Riesling wines made from the Grand Cru vineyards, including the CFE or Clos St Hune, are very concentrated indeed with a glycerol feel, which should integrate with time in the bottle, and is counterbalanced by a surprising high level of acidity. The Pinot Gris is showing some tropical exuberance, with some complexed truffley notes for the Reserve Personnelle. The Gewürztraminer is marked by an aromatic intensity, opulence and concentration for the Ribeaupierre cuvée.

  • Top 10 winter cocktails

    Spirits

    From an updated sour to a seasonal take on the julep, we've compiled 10 of the best cocktails to drink when the temperature dips.

    Winter Julep

    Served warm, this recipe is a twist on a much-loved classic, using warm peppermint tea to provide a refreshing lift.

    Ingredients

    Peppermint Tea

    50ml Bourbon

    20ml Gomme Sirop (or brown sugar syrup)

    Mint

    Method

    Make peppermint tea in a glass cup (latte glass or schooner), stir in other ingredients and garnish with mint sprig.

     

    Arnaud’s French 75

    A French 75 warmed with cognac instead of gin.

    Ingredients

    25ml Cognac

    10ml Lemon Juice

    5ml Gomme Sirop

    Top with Champagne

    Method

    Shake over ice without champagne, pour into flute and top with champagne. Garnish with thin lemon peel slice.

     

    Apple of Eden

    Cynar, an artichoke liqueur, will highlight the woodiness and spice in the sherry.

    Ingredients

    50ml Apple Brandy

    12.5ml Manzanilla Sherry

    12.5ml Cynar

    Method

    Blend all ingredients together in a mixing glass, strain into a chilled glass, and garnish with a slice of apple.

     

    New York Sour

    A wintery twist on a classic sour.

    Ingredients

    50ml Rye Whiskey

    25ml Lemon Juice

    1 Egg White

    10ml Red Wine

    Method Shake over ice without the wine, strain into an ice filled rocks glass, float red wine over the back of a bar spoon.

     

    Smoked Rosemary Cider

    Can also be served warm by heating the cider and adding it after shaking the other ingredients.

    Ingredients

    50ml Mezcal

    25ml Lime Juice

    10ml Agave Nectar

    100ml Cloudy Cider

    Sea Salt

    Rosemary

    Method

    Muddle rosemary leaves in the bottom of the shaker, then stir in other ingredients. Add ice and shake. Strain into an ice filled rocks glass and garnish with a rosemary sprig and slice of red apple.

     

    Coconut Cream

    Ingredients

    50ml Aged Rum

    25ml Coconut Cream

    12.5ml Lemon Juice

    25ml Orange Syrup

    Black Walnut Bitters

    Method

    Shake all ingredients over ice, strain into chilled coupe and garnish with star anise on top of foam.

     

    Hot Toddy

    Jameson Irish Whisky is a smooth Irish classic which lends itself easily to Hot Toddies, Irish Coffee's and as a sipping Whiskey.

    Ingredients

    50ml Jameson Irish Whiskey

    1tsp Honey

    3 Cloves

    1 Cinnamon Stick

    1 Lemon Slice

    Pinch of Ground Nutmeg

    125ml Simmering Water

    Method

    Pour the honey, boiling water, and whiskey into a mug. Spice it with the cloves and cinnamon then add the slice of lemon. Let the mixture stand for five minutes so the flavours can mingle, then sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg before serving.

     

    Hot Buttered Rum

    Make your Hot Buttered Rum cocktail with delicious Havana 7yo, melted butter and a touch of spice.

    Ingredients

    1 ½tsp Butter

    1tbsp Muscovado

    Sugar

    1 ½tsp Icing Sugar

    50ml Havana Club 7yo

    2tbsp Vanilla Ice

    Cream

    Pinch of Ground

    Nutmeg

    Pinch of Ground

    Cinnamon

    125ml Simmering

    Water

    Method

    Combine butter, sugar and icing sugar in a large coffee mug; stir the mixture together until well combined. Pour in the Rum, add the ice cream and cinnamon and fill the remaining mug with hot water. Mix the drink with a fork until the ice cream and butter have melted together to make a creamy topping. Sprinkle with a dash of nutmeg and serve.

     

    Absolut Espresso Martini

    A delicious recipe for everyone’s favorite after dinner cocktail made with espresso, Absolut Vodka and coffee liqueur.

    Ingredients

    45ml Absolut Vodka

    45ml Espresso Coffee (freshly made and hot)

    15ml Coffee Liqueur

    Method

    Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with three coffee beans on the surface.

     

    Winter Mojito

    Ingredients

    50ml Havana Club 3yr

    25ml Lime Juice

    10ml Monin Gingerbread Syrup

    1bsp MuscavadoSugar

    2 Sprigs Mint

    Soda Water

    Method

    Add sugar, syrup, lime juice, mint sprigs and a splash of soda to hi-ball glass and muddle gently. Add cracked ice and rum. Stir all ingredients together. Top with cracked ice and another splash of soda. Add straw and garnish with mint sprigs & cranberries.

  • What we're drinking this Christmas

    With Christmas mere days away, we quizzed a collection of our food and wine loving staff on what they're cracking open on the big day. Here are their top picks from an impressive line-up of wines in the Enotria&Coe portfolio.

     

    Jon Pepper MW, Buying and Retail Director

    Jon_WWDMy Christmas drinking – a set of alternatives to the “classics” as a chance to enjoy the variety of our amazing portfolio:

    Ferrari Perlé 2008 (86386108) – beautiful alternative to Champagne with that lovely complexity that comes from extended lees ageing and time in bottle.  Ultimately decadent pre-lunch drinking.

    Kooyong Faultline Chardonnay 2013 (68026113) – amazing value compared to top white Burgundy, the Faultline Chardonnay has a lovely tension between its mineral, elegant fruit, perfectly judged oak and refreshing acidity.  Incredible quality for the price.

    Stargazer Pinot Noir 2014 (B3966114) – a great example of what top quality winemaking can achieve in this exciting up-and-coming region, the joy of the Stargazer Pinot is its vibrant fruit and wonderfully integrated oak.  It’s still young but already sings in the glass.

    Anselmi I Capitelli 2015 (24230615) – forget port with the cheese, sweet whites are a fantastic match.  I Capitelli has that elusive combination of freshness and intensity which makes the greatest sweet wines.

     

    Sergio de Luca, Director of Buying, Italymike_WWD

    Christmas is a joyful reunion of my family. We will celebrate at home in a traditional way with roast turkey. I am going to open few wines, but I will nominate “King of the Day” the Amarone Classico Bertani.

    It is interesting to see how this beautiful traditional wine has developed over the year. The vintage is 2007, the current one for Bertani, a pretty good one, too!! I love the smell of plums, Morello cherry, and marzipan – all characteristics of this wine. It is the perfect Christmas wine, and if we’re not be able to finish the bottle (I doubt it very much!!!!!), we will drink it with the panettone as well……maintaining the Italian tradition of Christmas.

     

    Troy

    Troy Christensen, CEO

    As an American, I am partisan about my Christmas tipple and lucky that Enotria&Coe has a spectacular array of wines from my home country. This year will be particularly special, as I’ll be able to open a bottle of Stag’s Leap Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon, the winery notable for winning the best red from the 1976 “Judgement of Paris”. This blockbuster red will be paired with a spice-crusted butterflied leg of lamb.  

     

    Mandy Stevens, Wine Training Manager

    Mandy_WWDPicking the right wine for my family’s Christmas is a fine balance between selecting something for traditional drinkers and experimental foodies. This Christmas, I’ll be opening the Anselmi San Vincenzo to kick things off, and to pair with our nibbles and cracker pulling. This wine has pear and baked apple flavours, a citrus backbone and subtle nuttiness. There is an incredible balance of richness and freshness to this wine making it very versatile and a real crowd pleaser.

    The next bottle we will crack open will be the Stargazer Pinot Noir. The winemaker, Samantha Connew, is a great friend who inspired me to work in wine so I am thrilled that her amazing wines are available in the UK, and for our Christmas lunch. This Tasmanian Pinot has lovely smooth tannins and mouthfeel, a mix of red berries and hints of earthiness. The perfect accompaniment to Turkey with all the trimmings. Substitute it for the cranberry sauce too and claim another cheeky glass!

     

    Richard_WWD

    Richard Lecoche, Retail and Corporate Business Manager

    The Christmas Day refreshments in our house are a smorgasbord of fizz, sweet treats and after dinner tipples – but the star wines are always those that go with the main event. We’re going for turkey this year, and will be drinking Bernard Defaix’s Premier Cru Chablis Vaillon – the taut mineral backbone is the perfect foil to its waxy, ripe fruit – perfect for white meats and the rich, tasty flavours to be found in the trimmings!

    Our red will be a guaranteed stunner, the Kooyong Massale Pinot Noir, from Australia’s Mornington Peninsula. It’s a spicy, sappy Pinot with cherry and raspberry and gentle oak in support – made in a cool climate region that ‘does Burgundy’ better than the French I think. I know this will be a wonderful match to festive fare and be a Christmas hit with all.

     

    Junior_WWD Dirceu Vianna "Junior" MW, Wine Director

    We usually share cooking responsibilities at home. I will stuff, roll and roast a Turkey breast that will be served with wild mushroom sauce. Whilst we are preparing this, I will get celebration underway with a bottle of Gobillard Cuvee Prestige 2009.

    It is lively, characterful, refreshing, and offers exceptional value for money. This is as close one gets to a bottle of Dom Perignon without spending a small fortune. Thierry Gobillard is a very good producer who owns 26 hectares of vineyards around Hautvillers, many of which belonged to the local Abbey where Dom Perignon worked and lived. Great Champagne and great story to tell your friends!

     

    Les

    Les Somerville, Director of Sales, Scotland and North England 

    For Christmas dinner I like to start with homemade chicken-liver pâté. This is something I can make in advance and also the process gets me unwinding about the festive period ahead. To make the pâté that bit more special, I flambé with Skillogalee Liqueur Muscat. This is a fantastically rich dessert wine that adds a lovely raisin character to the dish.

    When having this on Christmas Day, I match it with Trimbach Pinot Gris Réserve Personnelle; what a wine. The texture of this wine is amazing: rich, dried fruit, but with a line of acidity that follows all the way through the palate. To be honest, I could just have this for the full day but a touch of tradition has to be adhered to. On with the next wine and over indulgent food. 

  • A festive favourite

    Nothing best describes Christmas in a glass, like mulled wine. Steeped in tradition, this seasonal staple has origins stretching as far back to the time of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. Now hallmarks of this classic treat, herbs and spices were originally added to mask the taste of unpalatable wine. Luckily, as winemakers have perfected their art, wines these days don’t need their flavours masked with a gamut of spices. However, the tradition of mulled wine has withstood the test of time – something we’re incredibly thankful for.

    So loved is mulled wine, that the tradition permeates across a raft of countries and cultures around the world. In Germany it's called Glühwein and is occasionally made with fruit wine; head north to Scandinavia and you'll find Glögg, which is usually served with a homemade spiced biscuit or cake; and in Quebec they mix in maple syrup and hard liquor and call it Caribou. Now a global phenomenon, iterations of mulled wine can include everything from red and white wines, to sangria blends and those calling for vermouth and port.

    Remember, when you’re shopping for plonk for your scrumptious holiday treat, look for a big, bold, and full-bodied red – think Syrah and Malbec. Delicate wines with nuanced flavours, such as Pinot Noir and Tempranillo, will be overpowered by the punchy spices in the mulling process.

    So, now you’ve got the background, it’s time to whip yourself up a steaming mug of mulled wine.

    Ingredients

    2 bottles of red wine

    2 shots of port

    2 oranges cut into 5 segments and stuffed with cloves

    1 lemon (peel only)

    1 cinnamon stick

    1 teaspoon of nutmeg

    5 cloves

    5 cardamom pods

    2-5 tablespoons of brown sugar

    Method

    Heat all the ingredients in a pan on a gentle heat for 20 minutes. This will allow the spices to infuse into the wine; but remember, don’t let the liquid come to a boil as this will leave behind a bitter taste. Plus, it’ll mean the alcohol in the wine will boil away. Slow and steady is the way to go.

    Once the mulled wine is warm – not piping hot – strain the mixture and pour it into a jug ready to serve.

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