We've all come to know Chianti as the archetypal Tuscan wine; some is great, some not so great so how can we tell what to look for? Let's turn the clock back three centuries to when Chianti was first defined as a wine-making area in 1716. The original pocket of villages soon spread to encompass more and more villages and it wasn't until 1932 that Chianti was completely re-drawn into seven sub-zones that are situated in the original heartland of Chianti.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying a glass of Chianti on its own. However, in Italy, wine and food go together...
AHW Food Pairings:
With the arrival of autumn and the departure of tourists, this is a great time to visit Italy and experience a much celebrated tradition, 'The Alba White Truffle World Market'. It is set up as an open exhibition in Alba’s historic city centre, Il Cortile della Maddalena, where you can admire, sample and buy truffles from the Langhe, Roero and Monferrato woods. There are also numerous exhibition stands presenting gastronomic delights from the region: wine, spirits, liqueurs, cheeses, ham and salami, fresh and dry pasta, breads, traditional cakes, chocolate, products made with Piedmont IGP hazelnuts, mushrooms and of course loads and loads of truffles!
Open from October 7th - November 26th (weekends only).
Admission to the truffle market is €3.50pp
Children up to 15 years: FREE entry.
If you're lucky enough to bring some white truffles back with you, why not try this fresh pasta with white truffle recipe:
Serves 4 – 6 (as starter)
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
1 garlic clove
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large fresh sage leaves
500g fresh pasta
2 tablespoons cream
75g of fresh white truffles
1. Over low heat in a small saucepan, melt the butter along with the sage and garlic and gently simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Season the butter with salt and pepper and discard the garlic and sage.
3. Add the cream and keep warm.
4. Cook the pasta in lightly salted boiling water until it's "al dente".
5. Drain, then toss the pasta with the seasoned butter and cream and toss until mixed.
6. Serve in individual bowls with the fresh white truffle shaved on top.
7. Pair with our wonderfully rounded, expressive and food-friendly Barbera d'Alba for a traditional combination, designed to enhance the flavours of the white truffle of Alba.
8. Buon Appetito!
Griddled seasoned steaks
Often home-cooked steaks lack that ‘restaurant’ flavour and, no matter what the cut of meat, can be bland. However with some coaxing by way of skillful seasoning the perfect tasty steak can be achieved. Outdoors or indoors the method is much the same, in Italy they would usually cut a large griddled steak into several thick slices thereby producing many more surfaces to coat with the condiments and seasoning.
500g fillet steak
4 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 dozen garlic cloves
A sprig of fresh rosemary
Freshly ground black pepper
We are very excited to be taking part in Tom Cannavan’s London Festival of Wine held on 14th October 2017. Tom is a well-known wine writer, judge, broadcaster (BBC Scotland particularly loving him) and the pioneering internet journalist behind www.wine-pages.com (set up in 1995).
Tom organised the first Festival of Wine in his native Glasgow in 2002 and has subsequently expanded to Edinburgh and London.
This is our first time exhibiting with him and we look to be in fabulous company: the list of exhibitors alone is enough to get you drooling. The venue is the magnificent Grand Hall of One George Street, Westminster SW1P 3AA in central London, 2 minutes walk from Westminster tube station. In keeping with Tom’s easy but informative style, the festival’s ethos is ‘serious without being stuffy’.
We look forward to showing off –I mean, ‘showcasing’ - our best-selling sparkling rosé, bold new reds and interesting whites from all corners of Italy. I believe tickets sold out at the end of August but if you are one of the lucky visitors, find us at Table 33. Doors open at 12.00pm. Click here for Flyer.
As high summer draws to a close, we are usually granted a spell of late summer sunshine and I, for one, will be making the most of those sunny days or hours. I have promised myself that this year I will plant bulbs for the short, dark days of February – lots and lots of muscari grape hyacinths – so that I can enjoy their vivid, uplifting shades of blue in my bare, wintry garden.
Next, I intend to savour the sunshine with a couple of our recently arrived Italian summer white wines that you may or may not have heard of. The first is Lugana from an area found hugging the southern shores of Lake Garda and shared by both the Veneto/Lombardia regions. Hot and flat, with heavy fertile soils, you can expect wonderful floral notes of acacia and dandelion with a touch of acidity that lends this wine a kinship to the mountain wines of Alto Adige. If you have been to Verona and sat in a piazza drinking chilled white wine, chances are that it was a Lugana. The Italians love its refreshing quality. The second is Vermentino, which is more widely grown than Lugana, with the most obvious bottlings coming out of Sardinia, Tuscany and Liguria. Varying in styles, Sardinia and Tuscany are generally more complex and round with herbaceous and floral notes from Mediterranean shrubbery that's synonymous to both these regions, whilst the Ligurian Vermentino tends to be a lot leaner and fresher with a bracing acidity. Due to vineyard plantings being so close to shore, there's a natural sea-salt 'kick' that could easily transport you to a coastal taverna where the dish of the day would be the freshest of fish. Fingers crossed we get to enjoy them in their natural habitat of 'plenty of warm sunshine'.
Thrilled to announce now that our Sicilian Etna Rosato has been voted 'Best Rosé in Italy 2017'.
What is it?
I bet the recent spell of wonderful summer sunshine had you reaching for the pink-coloured wine variety, you know, the one with the small window (usually June to September). Well, I enjoy them all year around and feel they shouldn't all be dismissed as frivolous summer quaffing, especially given the versatility on offer. Below are 4 key styles of rosés that we have in our online wine boutique and what makes them so different from one another:
Lucciole 2013 - Our best-selling sparkling wine, this fantastic sparkler (gold winner at the China Wine and Spirit Awards 2016) is a real crowd pleaser! Pale rose petal in colour, it's made up of Corvina and Syrah grapes, both very generous in the fruit stakes, think wild berries, blueberry, raspberry, red and black cherries, cranberry, all of these bright flavours, combined with the freshness and delicacy of the Spumante style; let's just say it works! Full in flavour but light in style, it can be enjoyed as an opening glass at a garden party or with food: imagine lunch at the beach (spaghetti with shellfish or risotto allo zafferano) or in the garden (cotoletta di pollo) and a glass or two of Lucciole, it'll bring the dishes to life without being too intrusive. In Italy it's always (and I think) best served with a single basil leaf to enhance flavour and aesthetics!
Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo 2015 - Abruzzo's classic DOC red, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, becomes known as Cerasuolo when it's vinified in a rosé style. Cerasuolo, meaning cherry-red, is an apt description for the deeply colourful rosés produced from the Montepulciano grape. The wine-making process involves a short maceration of the juice with the skins, after which the lightly coloured juice is separated and vinified much like a white wine; however, because the Montepulciano grape is high in natural colouring pigments, Cerasuolo rosés tend to go well beyond pink in colour and flavour. Some of the heartiest rosés tend to be found in Italy -expect hints of strawberry, dried cherry and orange peel. Rosé with food is often overlooked but the Abruzzesi know better than to not use the potential of flavours on offer to create some wonderful food pairings, most commonly with the use of small chilli peppers (peperoncini) such as pasta con aglio olio e peperoncino, or if you're feeling more exotic and brave, polpo in purgatorio - octopus cooked in oil, garlic, tomato and chilli peppers!
Etna Rosato 2014 - A wonderful vintage in Sicily, this rosé has a shimmering copper metal colour which is derived from the richly volcanic soil in which it is grown. It is made entirely from the Nerello Mascalese grape, which is rapidly becoming one of Italy's most elegant and sought- after varieties currently being produced. Found only on Etna, there has been much development over the past 5 years, with some winemakers queuing for a plot of land in which to cultivate this newly invigorated and majestic grape. Unlike most rosé wines, this particular offering has the ability to age thanks to the nature of both grape variety and soil used to cultivate it. Expect a generous helping of Mediterranean herbs and flowers, along with raspberry and cherry scents, hints of clove and a texture that's particularly enticing. We are proud to boast of its much deserved ‘Winner of the Best Rosato from Etna 2016’ award. A foodie’s dream rosé, if you see swordfish (pesce spade alla siciliana) on the menu, this is the wine to pick with it.
Chiaretto Rosé 2016 - From the shores of Lake Garda, just a stone’s throw from the charming city of Verona, comes the very pale pink Chiaretto. Displaying the primary aromas of the Corvina grape, its fragrances range from flowers to herbaceous tones, from citrus fruits to apricots and wild berries. There's also a hint of clove and vanilla extract that comes with Chiaretto; however its signature quality is most probably its mouth-watering freshness. A perfect aperitif rosé chatting with friends as well as a formal food companion, Chiaretto pairs delightfully with delicate pasta dishes such as ravioli and tortellini, as well as even the spiciest Asian food.
Here's to more of that sunshine and, of course, more rosé!!
With a long weekend rapidly approaching, an ok weather forecast, and the need for some uplifting times, Arthouse Wine are getting the picnic basket ready so whether it's the local park, sitting by the window box, out on the patio or at the beach, eating outdoors and washing it down with a glass of wine or beer makes it summer. And sometimes the simple things can help you enjoy the moment and forget the sadness.
Make it the night before for extra flavour!
Stuffed Ciabatta Loaf
1 Ciabatta long loaf
1 mozzarella thinly sliced and drained on kitchen towel of excess milk.
Tin/jar of Tuna
2/3 beef tomatoes thinly sliced
Extra virgin olive oil or basil flavoured oil
Bunch of basil leaves or rocket.
Place the loaf on a flat plate or bread board. Slice the ciabatta in half and pull out the ‘fleshy’ bread both top and bottom (save the breadcrumbs – cook them in a tiny amount of oil and a smattering of parmiggiano and when they're crispy you can add them to fried eggs, asparagus, pappardelle, scrambled eggs...the list is endless!) Drizzle a tiny amount of oil over the bottom half of the ciabatta, drain and spread the tuna, top with the mozzarella and tomatoes, salt, pepper and basil leaves or rocket. Drizzle some oil inside the top half of the ciabatta and place it on the filled half. Cover the top with clingfilm, weight it with a plate or breadboard and put in the fridge to chill, preferably overnight. In the morning take off the weight, keeping the clingfilm in place and turn it over, slice into approx 8-10 cms (3 inches) - any smaller and it will fall apart.
AHW serving tip, don't forget the kitchen roll and napkins!
Now, what to drink with your picnic loaf?
How about a beautifully crisp Falanghina from the Campania region in Southern Italy. Brimming with minerality, bright citrus fruits and a long refreshing acidity, this will sit nicely alongside all the ingredients used in the ciabatta, slicing through unctuous oils and the mozzarella texture. And if you're looking for something slightly more adventurous then look no further than our Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo, a famous rosé made from Montepulciano grapes from the Adriatic coast of Abruzzo. This deeply colourful rosato is one of the heartiest to be found in Italy, with hints of strawberry, dried cherry and orange peel. Rosé is perfect, as we know, for our summertime aperitifs but the versatility of a rosé with food is often overlooked. No longer. Salutè
With the change of season (always optimistic) around the corner, it's that time of year where gardens, patios, parks and anywhere that allows sunshine to beam in, are filled with smiling people with woollies shrugged off and sleeves rolled up. We spend most of the year waiting for this very window of sunny disposition, so it's critical we enjoy it to its fullest, and that means being prepared (cue wine!). I'm going to run through some of our best-selling and uniquely individual white wines that will be sure to keep the thirst quenched and the party spirit flowing.
Firstly, Langhe Arneis, a wonderfully 'under the radar' white wine from Piedmont, north-west Italy bordering France, an area that's more synonymous with the likes of Barolo and Barbaresco. The Arneis grape has risen from relative obscurity to become what some winemakers consider to be the most interesting white wine grape in Piedmont. Back in the 1970's, Arneis was actually used as a decoy to keep the birds and bees away from the prized Nebbiolo grapes. Now, with over 2000 acres of planting around Langhe and Roero, this grape gives off beautiful scents of white grapefruit, mango and sour apple, mingling with those of white flowers. For the adventure seeker who takes the long way round in the hope of discovering something new, this is for you! A thrill of a wine that seeks to be found, and more importantly, enjoyed for all of its uniqueness and exoticness.
For our next wines, we're headed to the north-eastern part of Italy, wherein lies the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and which has a particularly international wine scene. It's widely agreed that Friuli’s winemakers set the modern standard for making white wine in Italy. How? With the introduction of stainless steel tanks and the temperature control it permitted, everything changed, bringing about a new style of wines designed to preserve the pure flavour of the grapes. The prototype was, and still is, a crisp bright wine with pure varietal character. Let's talk about 2 white grape varieties that are indigenous to this region:
Friulano - The region’s signature contributor to the world of white wine; Italy’s answer to Tocai, a typically full-bodied wine, fruity and aromatic aromas. This wine is perfect for combating salty and fatty meats such as gammon and Parma ham. The sweet and salty ham is matched by the fruity and minerally wine, the fattiness of the ham checked by the wine’s brisk acidity. This is an award-winning wine, collecting bronze at the 2016 Decanter World Wine Awards.
Ribolla Gialla - This wine, literally meaning yellow ribbon, is currently in vogue in Italy; I mean, it's being poured in virtually every Trattoria and Osteria even outside of north-east Italy which, by Italian standards, speaks volumes about its popularity and demand. It pairs extremely well with oysters and grilled fish on account of its floral aromas and lovely citrus palate which is rounded off by a lingering and refreshing acidity. Also, a great lunchtime wine with its lower than average alcohol content of 12.5%. That reminds me....
All three of us at Arthouse Wine are rugby fans with partners who are rugby fans so this Saturday is a big springtime event: Super Saturday when the final matches of the 6 Nations Tournament are played out. Starting around 12pm and ending some 3 x 80- minute matches later and watched with friends, you want to have some drinks and snacks on the go – it can be thirsty work, believe me!
This year, I am making pizzette – little pizzas about 8cm across – in the morning and will dress them and put them in the oven during the 3 half-times. Couldn’t be simpler (famous last words). I have taken the dough recipe from Paola Bacchia’s ‘Italian Street Food’’ cookbook and ordered some Italian pork and fennel sausages and scamorza (smoked mozzarella) from Fratelli Camisa's website. I am aiming to keep us all going on various combinations of toppings including Paola’s: small sweet tomatoes, mozzarella and basil; Gorgonzola, sautéed mushrooms and thyme; Italian sausage (remove the skins and mash the meat with a fork before cooking), mozzarella and courgette. Drink whatever you like – it’s going to be a long day/night - but my mouth is watering at the thought of drinking our lovely Chianti Classico with these. Our Nunzi Conti Chianti Classico is produced in one of the seven sub-zones of Chianti and can therefore be labelled Classico. It will have spent more time in the barrel and the vines, having lower yields than other Chiantis, are able to produce higher quality fruit. The Sangiovese grape here is markedly black cherry in aroma and flavour, has a distinctive taste that is very Tuscan and pairs beautifully with pizza (big or small!).
Click "Read More" below for Paola’s pizzette recipe.
Very enthusiastic wine lover who loves a party!