by Nick Breeze
Part of the joy of drinking wine is the link between what ends up in one’s glass and it’s place of origin. The styles of many wines are protected by law under various systems of control, to preserve the authenticity and ensure that the winemaker doesn’t, in one generational gust of enthusiasm, cause permanent harm to a reputation established over many generations.
But to us drinkers, it is likely a less legal and more cerebral relationship with wine that helps us associate place, taste and pleasure in one sip. By visiting vineyards we see the landscapes, the soils, the climate, the people and cuisine that make up the culture of what enters our glass. If you have ever visited a vineyard, especially one whose wine you have drunk on many occasions, then it is likely that the relationship between you and that wine is cemented until the end of days.
I am saying this as I have just consumed some delicious wines sent from Azienda Agricola Montebelli in Tuscany, a small organic farm that produces wine and olive oil, whilst letting good-living-aficionados stay on the estate and indulge themselves in everything from the great outdoors, to the flamboyant fresh cuisine of the kitchen, in tandem with the delights of the cellared gains of the vineyard.
I have some tasting notes below to share, but most of all, I am also looking forward to visiting Montebello during the grape harvest in a month’s time. Enjoy!
D.O.C. Maremma Toscana
95% sangiovese 5% malvasia
The Fabula Bianco 2012 is a pale yellow colour with a fresh nose of summer flowers and fresh cut herbs. It’s nicely balanced and perfect for chicken, mushroom pasta dishes, or to enjoy with punchy bruschetta.
Young and fun 100% sangiovese. This wine goes with all the big dishes where red wine is must. It has silky tannins and a comforting blast of cherries, blackcurrants and redcurrants with a good bite to balance with the food. It’s pure Toscana all over!
Montereregio Di Massa Marittima D.O.C.
This is a young wine with rich ruby colour and a potent nose of ripe cherries and red fruits that tickle the imagination. This goes perfectly well with many cured meats, hards cheeses, fresh tomato and garlic drenched beef dishes, to name a few. Leave a glass to enjoy on its own. It's youth will ensure aging potential too so don't in too much of a hurry!
Fabula Riserva 2006
Monteregio Di Massa Marittima
90% sangiovese 10% montepulciano
This is a big wine for big dishes. A very rich and opaque ruby red in colour with overt plums and sweet cherry on the nose. To taste, the tannins are just right, biting into the food but also to hold the wine together for a fuller and enhanced experience of pleasure. More cherry, plum, and hints of thyme. Let this breathe and enjoy in the evening air with baked vegetables, roasted meats and discerning company!
These wines are all evocative of the great region that we British (and many others nationalities) are so in love with. I look forward to visiting Montebelli in due course, as part of the harvest season tour of Italy that will also include Puglia and Southern France. Visiting the places where the vines are tended, grapes are grown and wine lovingly made, is a special element in the pleasure of wine. Add such visits to your own itinerary to enhance your pleasures!
Short introduction of our produce with in depth view of the Fabula Riserva. Presented by Alessandro Tosi:
by Nick Breeze, Twitter: @NickGBreeze
Wine Tasting in Abruzzo - tasting notes
Winemaker and owner Nicola D’Auria greeted us at the entrance of this fascinating cantina. The winery and cellars have been designed by Rocco valentini in the shape of a vertical barrel in order to immerse the tasters senses in wine.
Abruzzo: fine wine in an Italian idyll
East from Roma to Abruzzo
From Rome we headed east to Abruzzo, a region of Italy that rises up like a burly landlord to greet the traveller. The Apennine mountains at their tops are stark and beautiful, lonely, yet fulsome. Rustic doesn’t quite do this landscape justice. It’s a place for pilgrims, peace lovers and, of course, we followers of Bacchic and gastronomic pleasure.
Watch: Wine Tips from the Grape-Pickers Party
After days of picking grapes in one of the world’s most famous wine regions, the pickers get together to drink, chat and enjoy the drinks they are meticulously involved in the making of.
Also check out local winemaker, Nico’s, top tip for a white Burgundy from Saint Aubin that you don’t have to travel to Burgundy to get!
From Picasso to Pecorino Wine (not cheese!!)
What started in El Quatre Gats tapas bar in Barcelona, soon became an adventure in the Marche region of Italy, that lies along the east coast facing Albania across the Adriatic Sea. El Quatre Gats is famously where Picasso had his first solo exhibition as a young edgy artists in the Catalan capital and I was there dining with Dr Pia Casarini Wadhams, Director of Italy’s only Polar Institute, Il Polo.
Fermo and the genteel pleasures of the Palazzo B&B
The Palazzo is located in the centre of Fermo, a small Roman hilltop town with a rich history dating back to antiquity. Flying from abroad, Ancona is the closest airport, 67km north (about an hours drive) along the coast of the Adriatic sea.