One of the most intriguing aspects of importing Italian wine directly from the producers themselves, is the amount of indigenous grape varieties you come across; some that are so obscure and in such limited production that they are rarely seen outside their region of cultivation, let alone exported. Generally, you only come across such wines by finding yourself in the very midst of particular pockets of wine country, where they’re served in many of the local, authentic trattorias alongside deliciously prepared regional cuisine. As travel has become far more universal, accessible and advertised, as an Italian wine importer we are asked by more and more clients about those indigenous varieties that they have come across by venturing off the beaten track. They’ve discovered something new, which in today’s world is a rarity, but when it comes to wine, specifically Italian, there are still some fantastic discoveries to be enjoyed. In this blog, we’re going to run through a few that you may or may not have heard of, that we think merit a shout-out from the rooftops and are an absolute must-try for those who enjoy quality wine and are tired of drinking the same old, same old. And let’s face it, we are living in an age where the ‘undiscovered’ is king
Ribolla Gialla (dry white) - meaning ‘yellow ribbon’, perhaps due to its light, delicate character, has been generating a lot of attention in Italy as well as internationally and it’s easy to see why. A Friulian hidden gem, this white wine is alpine-clean crisp and has a harmonious balance of green citrus fruits such as apple and lime that’s wrapped up in a bright acidity, perfect for delicate hams and coastal cuisine such as lightly dusted calamari, whitebait or seafood risotto. A popular lunchtime wine.
Malvasia (dry white) - One of Italy’s go-to spring/summer wines due to its heady aromatics and perfumed notes. Malvasia is, by far, one of Italy’s most fragrant varieties and even though its origins are firmly rooted in Ancient Greece, its modern-day love affair with both Sicily and Friuli-Venezia Giulia is clearly evident. Its versatility is used to make wines that range from dry or off-dry to sweet and unctuous. This one is pale golden in colour and offers an abundance of white flowers, fresh jasmine, acacia, peach, dried apricot and Turkish delight. Enjoy it with oily fish dishes such as an octopus salad or a thick cut of tuna fillet or bake a chicken breast wrapped in prosciutto.
Schiava (red) - Schiava is a dominant component of Alto Adige’s vineyards with more than 50% of the vineyards planted to the light, fragrant red grape that can be reminiscent of Pinot Noirs or well-constructed Beaujolais. It’s widely enjoyed in the summer months due to its violet nose and wild berry and red cherry scents. A perfect summer red, Schiava can be enjoyed slightly chilled, allowing those fresh, juicy forest-fruit flavours and alpine acidity to burst into life. Food companions are easy and uncomplicated, such as tomato-based pasta dishes, or warm goats cheese and red onion tartlets.
Pignolo (dry red) - a rare and romantic style of wine, which has deep black cherry flavours, tarry tannins and notes of tobacco, cocoa and liquorice that lean towards similar characteristics of a powerful Brunello. With only a handful of Pignolo-based wines in Friuli, this really is a limited-production wine, cultivated with meticulous detail and producing some exhilarating wines without the price tag of its Tuscan counterpart. Intense ruby-red in colour with dark purple reflections, the aromas are typically tertiary due to long ageing, lending complex and heady notes of tobacco, vanilla, coffee and ground spice. On the palate, its rich, velvety texture gently envelops the mouth leaving long and persistent dark fruit flavours on the finish. Roast lamb with rosemary and garlic, a hearty beef and lentil stew and aged cheeses will bring out the best of its complexity.
As with every passing year, we are in constant search of those hidden cantinas that are off the beaten track and under the radar. At AHW we don’t want to import wines that are already imported as we feel we would merely be passing on wines that have already been discovered and, for us, the joy and uniqueness of what we do is to offer our customers something apart from everyone else. We like to see ourselves as your very own, personal archaeologists of the Italian wine world, digging deeper and further into unfamiliar territory, where we can bring you something exclusive. With this in mind, we’re super excited to announce some new wines that we’ve recently imported from Alto Adige, home to the snow-capped mountains of the Dolomities, and Colli Euganei, a parcel of volcanic terroir that lies in a sleepy hamlet nestled on the eastern part of the Veneto.
Expect racy, floral, aromatic whites such as Pinot Bianco and a tantalising Sauvignon that will leave your tongue tingling with delight whilst layered, rich, earthy reds such as Cabernet and fleshy, ripe Merlots pave the way on the red front!
Available from late March 2018, exclusively at AHW. You heard it here first...
So, the question that remains is which shade of pink?
It has been a really positive year for AHW and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank every one of you who stopped by our table at various wine tasting events and engaged with us. It is safe to say, you all appeared to be enjoying yourselves! We take great comfort in seeing people enjoy wine in general and when it’s ours we are overwhelmed! We will be at more wine fairs and tasting events throughout 2018, as well as importing more Italian wines, currently being lined up for arrival. With that, we hope to see you again soon at the AHW table for some spills, thrills and a jolly good time!
So far, we will be attending:
Introducing a highly esteemed wine from a tiny pocket of land located in southern Tuscany called Brunello di Montalcino and its younger, less expensive brother Rosso di Montalcino.
Not everyone likes turkey at Christmas and if you are thinking of celebrating with a fine cut of beef, read on as we may just have the perfect wine.
Brunello di Montalcino
Rosso di Montalcino
Sparkling rosé is one of the most versatile, food-friendly wines in the world. While the grapes used in these wines often vary by region, sparkling rosés have a great affinity with food. Pink sparkling wines have a real depth of flavour, but there's also a wonderful acidity to them which is important when looking to pair these with more complex food styles.
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.
Very enthusiastic wine lover who loves a party!