Say goodbye to cold, dark, bleak January and spring into a brighter February, when we’re bringing some of our more niche bottlings to the forefront! So, if you’re feeling open minded and fancy something fresh, quirky, and a bit more alternative, then read on..
Aglianico - Head to southern Italy, specifically the region of Campania and you will find the explosive, expressive and rather brooding ‘Aglianico’ grape. Concentrated red and black fruits arrived at by the long ripening seasons under constant Mediterranean sunshine, erupt on your tastebuds, giving way to a brisk acidity and a white peppery spice on the finish. The high tannins (especially when young) envelop the gums and can leave a rather bitter and dryness sensation; however they will soften overtime and are fundamental for the ageing of Aglianico which in most cases can cellar happily for 10 years or more. This wine is a perfect match for slow roasted meats, hearty stews and ripe marbled cheeses.
Arneis - Since the turn of the century, the Arneis grape has risen from relative obscurity to become, what many consider, the most interesting white grape in Piedmont. The very adaptable Arneis grape seems to produce its best expressions in the Roero’s white chalk and sandstone soils containing small amounts of marl. Typically straw yellow in colour with shimmering green hues; expect fragrant aromas of white flowers, camomile, white peach, grapefruit, sour green apple and zesty lime. At around the 3 to 4 year mark in bottle, Arneis begins to take on more complex, herbal notes that are equally interesting and welcoming. A perfect match for butter and sage risotto or spinach and ricotta ravioli. For cheese options look at creamy, soft cheeses such as Burrata or Stracchino.
Ribolla Gialla – Friuli’s best-kept secret, Ribolla Gialla is fast becoming known the world over for producing a white wine of great finesse and florality. It is hard not to want to reach for a bottle when faced with milder weather, its delicate and subtle aromas give you a sense of how a wine can make you fall in love, without trying too hard. Straw yellow in colour, expect aromas of lemon citrus with golden apple and grapefruits. Naturally high in acidity and racy clean in its style, this wants to be happily paired with coastal cuisine such as a lemon drizzled fritto misto, spaghetti vongole or if you’re lucky to be in the north east of Italy, try it with baccalà mantecato, it’s heavenly, take it from us! Light cheeses such as ricotta and robiola would be more than suitable for Ribolla’s delicacy.
Vernatsch - The Schiava grape remains 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. Widely enjoyed in the summer months, this light ruby-red wine with violet reflections has scents of wild berries, cherries and a hint of spice, whilst on the palate it is delicate and harmonious and has a bright, lively acidity that lends to a pleasantly persistent finish. A versatile accompaniment with food, it is particularly well-matched with light pasta dishes such as spaghetti alla carbonara or penne all’arrabbiata, risotto alla parmigiana and baked white fish with tomato and caper sauce. Soft cheeses such as brie and alta badia would pair nicely.
Pignolo - Pignolo is a rare and romantic style of wine, that has deep black cherry flavours, tarry tannins and notes of tobacco, cocoa and liquorice that lean towards the similar characteristics of a powerful Brunello. With only a handful of Pignolo-based wines in Friuli, there still isn’t much bottled evidence to back up the claim that, according to the Friulians, Pignolo is their great gift to the world of wine, much like Sangiovese and Nebbiolo are from the Tuscans and Piedmontese. 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 flavours on the finish. Look to pair this wine treat with hearty, wintery cuisine such as leg of lamb with rosemary and garlic, a rich beef and lentil stew, roast pheasant or a premium cut fillet steak. Cheeses: chunks of parmigiano reggiano, dolcelatte or aged pecorino.
Very enthusiastic wine lover who loves a party!