The glass exhales its aromas of dark and red fruit compote. Keep swirling and sniffing… it is pleasure in a glass. Deep carmine in colour and silky smooth tannins on the palate. One sip leads to another and so on. As one might expect, the distinct flavour that leaves its impression is dark chocolate. 

 

The Chocolate Block is a wine that will impress you and your friends. It’s an occasion wine for sure. It would be ideal next to a slow cooked shoulder of pork or rich piece of venison. Late summer evening barbecues spring to mind. 

This blend of 5 grape varieties including Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Grenache Noir and Cinsault, offers a unique wine at great value considering the quality. I’d certainly suggest buying a case, working through a bottle or two per annum and letting the bottles age gently over the next five to ten years.

The Chocolate Block, 2013
Boekenhoutskloof

RRP: £19.99

Buy it here from Hard To Find Wines

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.

 

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.

 

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!

 

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.

 

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.