Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Somewhere to store all your wine tasting notes

Shopify MicroStore Demonstration

Seagate Wireless Plus 1TB Portable Hard Drive


Thursday, 21 November 2013

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Great Food & Wine for Christmas 2013

Boxing Day

Turkey, leek and ham pie

Turkey, leek and ham pie

A great way to use up the Christmas turkey. Make the filling in advance then add the pastry top and bake just before serving.


Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Heat a large pan over a medium heat. Add a knob of butter and gently cook the onion until soft but not brown. Add the carrots and leek and continue cooking for five minutes until the carrots begin to soften. Cover with the cream and stock and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken. Add the turkey, ham, mushrooms, cayenne and herbs then season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and remove the pan from the heat.
  2. Pour the filling into a ceramic pie dish. Roll out the pastry to make a lid for the pie and strips to line the rim of the dish. Press the strips onto the rim, moistening them with a little water, then press down the lid firmly and brush with the beaten egg. Sprinkle with the parmesan and cook in the oven for 20 minutes until the pastry is golden-brown.

    The Ideal Pairing

    Feudo Montoni, Colle del Mandorlo Insolia The Colle del Mandorlo is comprised of 100 percent Insolia, a grape variety believed to be indigenous to Sicily. Once used primarily as a component of Marsala, today it is recognized for its ability to produce delightfully satisfying dry white wines. This bright, juicy offering from the 2010 vintage leads with aromas of melon, green apple, citrus blossom and a whiff of white pepper. Offering welcome structure and weight on the palate, this harmonious charmer is layered and intricate, with flavours of slightly under-ripe peach, white flowers, Asian pear and lemongrass. It finishes with a pleasing, dusty sensation that is reminiscent of the volcanic soils in which it is grown.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Angelo D'Uva

Central Italy’s Molise region got a huge boost when it was promoted to a higher, stricter category of wine
region (DOC) in 1998. Today this tiny slice of the Adriatic coast is a source of terrific wines, none more so than those from a family-owned estate near Larino, a hilltop village 15 miles from the sea.

Map of MoliseAngelod’Uva is a felicitously named vintner (d’Uva means “of the grape”) who manages his family’s 37 acres with his wife, Enrica. The d’Uvas limit their vines’ yields, hand-pick their grapes and use only estate-grown fruit. This careful selection shows in the wines balanced, mineral-edged flavors.

ECWC will soon be featuring the full portfolio of Angelo D'Uva wines from an amazing, crisp Falanghina to a Tintilia that is bursting with character underpinned with subtle, velvety tannins.

The Tasting Guide


— Pour the wine about a third full into a simple glass that curves inward.
— Holding the glass by the stem, tip it against a white background.

Examine the wine:

Is it clear or dull? This can tell you if the wine has a fault or not
What colour is it?
White wines: white-lemon-gold
Red Wines: purple, ruby, tawny
Rose Wines: pink-orange
Compare the colour at the centre of the glass (core) with the colour at the rim
What can the colour tell you?

Wine Tasting with Paolo Beretta at Fiorano in Le Marche 2008
White Wines: become deeper (more golden) with age.

Red Wines: the more purple the wine, the younger it is. In young wines, the colour is usually uniform. The more brown, tawny or orange the wine, the older it is. With age, the colour is not uniform and is lighter at the rim of the glass compared with the centre.

Generally, the lighter the colour of the wine, the cooler the climate.
However, certain grape varieties are characteristically light or dark in colour.


— Swirl the wine in the glass to increase the surface area exposure to the air. This helps it evolve.
— Take a quick sniff (remember, first impressions count the most)

Does it smell clean or unclean?
This can tell you if the wine is corked or not. If corked, it will have a musty smell.

Does it smell weak or pronounced?
This can tell you about the wine's origin. The more intense the nose, the more likely that the grapes were grown in a hot climate and the level of sugar and therefore alcohol is higher.

What does it smell of?
Fruity, Savoury, Dairy, Nutty, Spicy, Mineral, Sugary, Woody, Floral, Herbal.

What can the smell tell you?
Older wines tend to smell more savoury and spicy and less of fruit.
Younger wines tend to smell more of fruit.
Some grape varieties have very distinctive bouquets.


— Take a mouthful of wine (not too much) and swirl it around your mouth (so every tastebud gets a chance to taste it).
— Professional tasters draw in air at the same time to increase the contact with air and give the wine a chance to evolve in the mouth.
— Spit it out (optional, unless you've got 20 wines to taste!).

Can you taste the sweetness?
Sweetness is tasted at the tip of the tongue. It tastes sugary. It comes from the sugar in ripe grapes that is left after fermentation has finished. Is the wine dry, medium or sweet?

Can you taste the acidity?
Acidity is tasted on the sides of the tongue and tastes like lemons. It occurs naturally in grapes and is important to balance sweetness. White wines have more acidity than red wines. Does the wine have low, medium or high levels of acidity?

Tasting room at Boroli overlooking the Nebbioso (foggy) valleys in Barolo 
Can you taste the tannin?
Tannin is tasted at the back of the tongue and tastes bitter like a strong cup of tea that makes your mouth fur up. It also has the sensation of an underripe or green banana. Tannin comes from the skins of the grapes and from oak ageing. It is mainly found in red wines.

What flavours can you taste?
Fruity, Savoury, Dairy, Nutty, Spicy, Mineral, Sugary, Woody, Floral, Herbal
Are the flavours weak or pronounced?

Can you feel the alcohol?
Alcohol is sensed at the back of the throat and gives a warming sensation. The higher the level of sugar in the grapes before fermentation, the higher potential alcohol the wine will have, i.e. hotter countries tend to produce wines higher in alcohol.
Are there low, medium or high levels of alcohol? You can also see this from the 'legs' left on the sides of the glass. This is also an indication of sweetness.

How 'long' is the wine?
This is a term that describes the length of time you can taste the wine once you have swallowed (or spat it out!). Is the length, short, medium or long? It gives an indication of quality. The longer the length, the higher the quality.

Tasting on the BNS stand
at the Hong Kong International Wine Fair in 2009
What can the taste tell you?

Quality: A good sign of quality is balance. A wine is balanced when all of the wine's components (e.g. sweetness, acidity, tannins) blend together. The balance or potential to be balanced after ageing is a sign of quality.

Maturity: Older red wines tend to taste more savoury and spicy. Older white wines tend to taste more honeyed and yeasty. Younger wines tend to taste more of fruit.

Origin: Hotter countries mean riper grapes and more overtly fruity wines (and a higher degree of alcohol).

Grape Variety: Certain grape varieties taste of certain flavours, e.g. Sauvignon Blanc typically tastes and smells of gooseberries, Cabernet Sauvignon of blackcurrants.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Vinitaly 7 - 10 April 2013

For those of you lucky enough to be attending Vinitaly in Verona next week I'd like to urge you to visit these fantastic folk and taste their marvelous wines.  Please also send my warm regards to all as sadly I will not be able to make it this year.

Vittorio Navacchia of Tre Monti in Hall 7 stand E9
Antonio Fattori and Giorgia Costa of Fattori Wines in Hall 5 stand E5
Piero Brillado of Terre Astesane at the Consorzio Tutela Vini d’Asti e del Monferrato, in Hall 9 Stand 2 b3
Marco Tamborelli of Boroli in Hall 9 Stand H2
Susanna Crociani of Cantine Crociani in Hall 8 Stand B14
Fabio Sireci of Feudo Montoni in Hall 2 Stand F99
Monika and Klaus Pfitscher of Pfitscher in Hall 6 Stand B3

Feudo Montoni and Poderi San Lazzaro wines mixed case for the Spring as follows:

Insolia (6 bottles)

Vivid flavors, supple mid-palate and mouthwatering crispness are the hallmarks of carefully crafted dry Insolia.  These characteristics ensure that it will pair flawlessly with many salads and vegetarian dishes, as well as fresh, simply prepared seafood, most notably shellfish.  The wine’s mineral backbone and brisk acidity will serve as a counterpoint to richer fish dishes, while also standing up to higher-acid preparations,
such as those incorporating tomatoes or citrus juices. Consider ceviche or a Mediterranean-style seafood salad.  Serve chilled (10°C).

Rosso Piceno Podere 72 (4 bottles)

Made from a blend of 50% Montepulciano and 50% Sangiovese grapes grown in predominantly calcareous clay soil with a vine density of 4000 vines per hectare, this Rosso Piceno has pure and clean aromas with a prevalence of berries, especially red berries. A wine of good structure and elegance with excellent equilibrium on the nose and the palate, it is intense ruby red in colour. The wine is aged in oak barrels for 6 months where natural malolactic fermentation occurs and this is followed by a further 6 months aging in the bottle.

Grifola Montepulciano (2 bottles)

Made from 100% Montepulciano grapes this is a deep, rich wine with a plush core of sweet, dark fruit that gradually emerges as the wine sits in the glass. This mouthwatering, full-bodied red offers notable elegance and balance and is a truly powerful and delicious wine of great character and fruity abundance.  The wine is aged in French barriques for 16 months where natural malolactic fermentation occurs and this is followed by a further 6 months aging in the bottle. Total production <5000 bottles.

March Tasting Tip

Your sense of smell is most acute and least influenced by food just before lunch or dinner. Because most of us are not at our best in mid-afternoon, believe it or not mid-to late morning is actually the ideal time to taste.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Fabio Sireci & Feudo Montoni

In the heart of Sicily where the borders of the fertile lands of Palermo, Caltanissetta and Agrigento converge lies the lush greenery of the Feudo Montoni estate.  Dating from 1469 it is one of the oldest and most highly regarded vineyards on the island. Extending for roughly 180 acres in the region of Montoni Vecchi  at an altitude which ranges from 400m to 750m above sea level, the estate is quite breathtaking.  

Feudo Montoni, September 2010

Fabio Sireci,  2010
Current proprietor Fabio Sireci vividly described to Martin and I how for hundreds of years the grapes were carried along the dusty lanes by horse-drawn carts to the farmhouse cellar where the best were meticulously selected and made into wine.  Nowadays the old press has, of course, been replaced with the latest machines but it is clear to see that the enthusiasm and passion for these traditions still remain and hence the wines are produced with the very same cultivation techniques and methodologies as ever. Fabio explained that despite the challenges of the torrid Sicilian summer, the ripening of the grapes is largely protected by the altitude ensuring that the wines produced have just the right alcoholic strength and complexity. 

There are 23 D.O.C. regions in Sicily.
Feudo Montoni is part of the D.O.C. Contea di Sclafani in the centre of the island.  

In 2011 I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to present some of my wines from small family producers to the New York Times Wine Society.  As the competition was fierce and the tasting panel famed for being extremely tough I didn't hold my breath!  Nevertheless I received a call to confirm that the Feudo Montoni Insolia had sailed through and was to be the first selection of their 2011 portfolio.  With the shipment to New York on its way I decided to import the remaining 2010 vintage to the UK and I am now delighted to make the final few cases of this delicious white wine available exclusively through the Ex Cellar Wine Club (to purchase please click on the link below).

Tasting notes courtesy of the NY Times Wine Club
2010 Feudo Montoni Colle del Mandorlo Bianco
The Colle del Mandorlo is comprised of 100% Insolia, a grape variety indigenous to Sicily. Once used primarily as a component of Marsala, today it is recognized for producing delightfully satisfying dry white wines.   This bright, juicy offering from the 2010 vintage leads with aromas of melon, green apple, citrus blossom and a whiff of white pepper. Offering welcome structure and weight on the palate, this harmonious charmer is layered and intricate, with flavors of slightly underripe peach, white flowers, Asian pear and lemongrass. It finishes with a pleasing, dusty sensation that is reminiscent of the volcanic soils in which it is grown. 
~Martin Reyes - (June, 2011)

February Tasting Tip

When blind tasting, very pale green in a white wine may indicate Riesling, while a pink tinge suggests that the wine was made from pink-skinned grapes such as Gewürztraminer and Pinot Grigio. 

Further reading

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Paolo Capriotti & Poderi San Lazzaro

The Capriotti Family September 2008

Montepulciano vines at Poderi San Lazzaro, September 2008
Along a dusty road up in the hills of a tiny corner of the Comune di Offida lies the Azienda Agricola San Lazzaro, home to the Capriotti family.  Martin and I had heard talk of a very special Montepulciano being produced by Poderi San Lazzaro. Upon our arrival the unassuming Paolo Capriotti greeted us with a warm smile and proceeded to give us a wonderful insight into his organic, traditional wine-making techniques and the story behind the wines that he so carefully creates.

Paolo drove us down this very steep hill in between the neatly spaced vines in his 4x4 Fiat Panda.  If you look closely you can see the dark bunches of grapes strewn on the floor as he would discard certain ones to allow space for the selected few to flourish. The vineyard is spread across two adjacent farms measuring around 35 acres with a total annual production of approximately 40,000 bottles.

Le Marche is situated in the centre-north of Italy and is dotted with beautiful cyprus and olive trees and vines which spread across the hilly landscape, alongside an untamed Adriatic coastline.

Flying in to Ancona airport allows easy access to the surrounding wine country. My only suggestion would be plan your trip well in advance and be wary of relying on a navigation system to guide you! 

Despite producing a large selection, including 13 varieties carrying the D.O.C. label, Le Marche’s wines remain little known outside Italy.

Poderi San Lazzaro produce four wines typical of the region; a fresh and light Sangiovese, a classy oak-aged Pecorino, a fabulous classical Rosso Piceno Superiore and the flagship wine, the 100% Montepulciano "Grifola" Marche Rosso. I currently have 3 cases of the excellent 2009 Rosso Piceno Superiore which I am making available exclusively to our club.  To my knowledge there are only 4 cases of the 2007 Grifola (total production was <4000 bottles) available anywhere in the world.  Paolo has one and I have one locked away in my cellar (for personal consumption!) but I have a further 2 available.

Reviews for Marche Rosso, "Grifola"
2007 Poderi San Lazzaro Grifola - 92 Points - Robert Parker
The 2007 Marche Rosso Grifola emerges from the glass with layers of dark black fruit.  It is an imposing, huge wine literally bursting at the seams.  Despite its richness the Grifola retains plenty of freshness and verve all the way through to the intense, building finish.  This is a decidedly virile wine that will require patience, but it is shaping up to be a jewel.  Anticipated maturity:  2015 - 2025. Poderi San Lazzaro is one of my favorite under the radar producers.
~Antonio Galloni - Robert Parker (June, 2011)

January Tasting Tip

I find that the easiest way to consider the acidity of a wine is to think about an apple. Some apples are overly ripe, they can taste a bit flabby and bland with no back bone or structure.  Others may be too sharp, hard and cause you to wince. The perfect apple however is crisp and balanced with a delightful crunch.  A wine with good acidity will strike the same balance and have much the same effect.

Further reading