Sunday, 25 January 2009

Milan/Venice, January 2009

A premiere at La Scala with two of our artists was a great pleasure, but we managed to discover a gold mine in the short time between arriving and the opera. Thanks to that wonderful thing called the Internet, we found ourselves chez Adriano at the Enoteca 'per Bacco', Via Pecchio 4, 2031 Milano (02 7428 1110).

Now Adriano is an opera lover as well as a wine merchant of genius. He comes from Venezia and has a wonderful range of Vino Sfuso including


Cabernet Franc

12,00 %Vol

Rosso rubino carico, profumo intenso, erbaceo, vinoso. In bocca robusto, vellutato, giustamente tannico.

Merlot Base

10,50 %Vol

Rosso rubino con riflessi violacei. Profumi caratteristici di mora ed erba tagliata. In bocca vinoso morbido ed avvolgente, leggermente aromatico.

Incrocio Manzoni 6015


Rosso rubino trasparente. Tipici profumi erbacei uniti a sentori di frutta rossa matura. Elegante di stoffa sottile, persistente, tannico



Rosso rubino intenso, profumo erbaceo ricco di citazioni fruttate. In bocca asciutto, complesso fresco e dai tannini equilibrati

Pinot Nero


Rosso rubino non molto intenso. Elegante, molto profumato, delicato e speziato. In bocca beverino, fresco, floreale

Cabernet Sauvignon


Rosso rubino trasparente, Profumi erbacei e sentori di frutta rossa matura. .Robusto, di equilibrata aciditĂ .

Merolt riserva

12,00 %Vol

Rosso rubino brillante. Sentori di marasca, e di more mature. Vellutato delicatamente acidulo, giustamente tannico.



Rosso rubino acceso, brillante e trasparente. Profumi persistenti. In bocca secco, armonico con finale gradevolmente amarognolo.


11,5 % Vol.

Rosso con tendenza al violaceo. Vinoso fruttato, speziato. In bocca asciutto, fruttato e floreale, fresco e vellutato.




Giallo paglierino con riflessi verdognoli. Aromatico e delicato al naso. Ricordi di melone, peperone, banana. In bocca asciutto, elegante, carezzevole.



Giallo paglierino brillante. Sentori di mela matura, melone. In bocca complesso, mielato elegante e armonico.

Pinot Grigio


Colore da giallo paglierino intenso ad ambrato. Delicato e fine, fruttato con ricordi di pera. In bocca sapido delicatamente acidulo con finale appena amarognolo

Prosecco Spento


Giallo paglierino. Vinoso e fruttato leggermente aromatico. In bocca rotondo, sentori di mandorla, gradevole e beverino.



Giallo paglierino con riflessi verdognoli. Fresco asciutto e sapido, sottile ed elegante. In bocca asciutto, armonico e sapido.

Incrocio Manzoni 6013


Giallo paglierino scarico. Profumi mediamente complessi floreali e fruttati. In bocca fresco elegante e beverino

Prosecco frizzante


Vino da imbottigliare in primavera. Giallo paglierino con perlage abbastanza sottile e persistente. Profumi di crosta di pane, fiori di campo. In bocca elegante con una gradevole vena amabile sul finale.



Giallo paglierino con riflessi dorati. Vinoso, lievemente fruttato. In bocca armonico, fresco, persistente con gradevole nota finale acidula

Vini dolci

Verduzzo Ramandolo


Giallo dorato chiaro. Sentori di miele con delicata presenza di mandorla tostata. Sapore dolce, delicato, accattivante

We include the whole range because these wines represent not only the bargain of the century but also tremendous diversity and interest. We bouight the Refosco and Incrocio Manzoni. When we explained to Adriano that we were going to have to transport these bottles in hold luggage he sold us two beautiful bottles (which we subsequesntly used for olive oil) with metal caps which did the job of keeping in the wine without any leaks and maintaining its freshness.

Both vini sfusi were delicious. They were surely the new wine of the 2008 vintage which had just been distributed to these outlets. We asked Adriano how he kept the wine fresh in his demijohns and the answer was surprising; he doesn't use gas or vacuum. He know he can sell the contents of his demijohns each day.

Adriano also sold us three wines otherwise unknown to us, two of which subsequently turned out to be old friends. They were

Franconia delle Venezie' = Blaufraenkisch

Terrano = Mondeuse

A third wine from the Vallee d'Aoste (where French still rules) was Mayolet which turns out to be the parent, together with Petit Rouge of Cornalin.

In Milano we trawled through Peck's wine department but were warded off by the prices. In Venezia we visited the Wine Nazi (Qv) but he has moved to smaller premeses and so the choice is diminished. Typically neither he nor the other sellers of Vino Sfuso had anything like the selection of Per Bacco in Milan. We did however find a litre of Malbech at 'Al Canton del Vin' (Castello 3156) for 1.95 Euros which was also very 'novello' and delightful.

Arriving at the Aeroporto Marco Polo early with the express intention of having lunch with our friends at the Wine Bar there (surely the best in any airport in the world, not that there is much competition) we got into an arguement with the delightful people serving there over what was called Traminer on the wine list and Gewurztraminer which is what was poured for us. When we said what we wanted was Traminer we were told it was the same thing. Slotovino maintained Traminer is something completely different and a good-natured arguement ensued. We are happy to say that in a sense we were both right. There is an excellent entry in Wikipedia on the subject.

Good buys at the Duty Free shop included a Pinot Bianco and a Fiulano from Proietti, and a Bardolino from Fratta Pasini.

Vin naturel

We hadn't come across this before. Vin naturel is a movement for not only Biodynamic vineyard practices but vinification with only local wild yeasts, non-filtration and many other refinements ("pas de tracteur sur le domaine"!). There is a centre for such wines in Paris described as a wine-bar. The name is Racine. The owner is Pierre Jancou and he runs a wine shop and cafe combining organic produce from the best producers. The address is

8 Passage des Panoramas, Paris 75002 (00 33 14 031 0641)

How did we find Racine's? We didn't. We came to it from an oblique angle (a good way to get there). On a recent visit to Paris, we printed out the 'Paris Artisan-Wines Cavistes' page from in order to find some alternative cavistes to our beloved Lavinia. Looking for wines from lesser known grape varieties as ever, we gravitated towards Le verre vole, 67 Rue Lancry, 10e. where we could have lunch and buy wine at the same time and La Cremerie, 9 Rue des Quatre Vents, 6e. where this so-called 'natural wine' was available.

After a delicious Betterave hors d'oeuvre and Saucisse et pomme puree dish of the day, not to mention a dodgy glass of Cabernet Franc d'Anjou and a much better Gamay de l'Ardeche we bought a bottle of Pierre Overnoy 2007 Arbois Pulillon Poulsard. Now what set bells ringing was the mec who was dishing the food and selling the wine told us to keep the wine 'au frais' which we did. It is original, delicious and excellent.

La Cremerie was even more interesting. Having declared our interest for 'cepages inconnues' we were introduced to a Chasselas from Eric Pfifferling in the Cotes du Rhone - L'Anglore Cuvee des Caprices 12.5%, we went on to buy a Clos du Rouge Gorge Pays des Cotes Catalanes (Macabeo, white) by Cyril Fhal, another mainstay of vin naturel ad a Domaine Navarre Vin d'Oeillades 11.5% From Roquebrun. Oeillade turns out to be a hybrid between Pinot Noir and Hermitage (Cinsault). That sounds very much like Pinotage, surely? We can't wait to try it.

At Lavinia (how could we forsake it?), we found a Cot (Malbec) from the Loire, a Menu Pineau (white) called Le Brin de Chevre. The producer seems to be called Sari and the wine also bears the inscription 'Le Clos de Tue-Boeuf, 41120 Les Montels which we think is in the Languedoc.

There were two other bottles from Lavinia, our first Slovenian wine, a Tocaj Gredic from Brda 'since 1820' (sic) 12% and not for the exorbitant prices we have previously seen on wines from Slovenia and an Arbois Traminer from Stephan Tissot in the Jura.

Now hereby hangs a tale. In our next blog you will read about our little contretemps at the wonderful wine bar at Marco Polo Airport in Venice. It turns out Traminer is not our old friend Gewurztraminer but Savignin which in the Jura is seriously salty and dry as hell. We will see why Stephane Tissot, one of the Jura's leading producers decided to label this wine Traminer instead of Savignin which is in commen usage in the Jura (it is responsible for 'Vin Jaune' after all). This bottle was not cheap (17 Euros) so let's hope it is something enjoyable rather than just wierd.

A Colares Evening

This did not turn out as hoped for but we had a very jolly evening and so perhaps this is something to be said in favour of the Colares wines which were drunk exclusively that night (10.1.09).

There was a very distinguished line up for what turned out to be some very disappointing bottles: in alphabetical order

Carla Capalbo
Paul Levy
Penelope Levy
Jeffrey Tobias
Rebecca Willer
Robert Willer

The main mistake was to have relied too much on Colares' reputation as ageworthy. Whether due to poor storage or any actual inability to age, the old wines were all more or less kaput and although of interest to some in a geriatric way they did nothing to establish enthusiasm for the Ramisco grape or Colares itself.

There was mild enthusiasm for the 2004 Fundacao Oriente and 2005 D'Areia. A venerable Tinta Chao ('Red Clay') NV was downright corked. The 1967 and even the 1995s from Chitas and D'Areia were past their best to say the least.

Oh well, as stated a very enjoyable evening thanks in no small degree to Jill Slotover's cooking.

Hungary - an update

We have worked our way through about half the plunder from Hungary and the results have been mostly fair to disappointing so far. As a reminder here is the list. Comments on the bottles opened to date follow in blue.

Harslevelu (Tornai) 12.5%. Clearly Harslevelu is a sweet variety only of interest as a component of Tokaj. This was a well made wine but need not detain us in purezza.
Harslevelu (Tornai) 13%
Furmint (Tornai) 12%
Very good indeed! Drier as well as less alcoholic than other Furmints we have encountered. Perhaps not surprisingly we have found this wine in London imported by Zelas Wines and Sprits and available albeit at a rather hefty price from 'Wine of Course', 216 Archway Road, N6 5AX (2028 347 9006).
Leanyka (Toth Ferenc) 13% Turns out to be the same as Feteasca (Romania). Pleasant but off-dry. No 'ethnic' notes (in other words 'individuality'). Not unlike a Vinho Verde.
Cserszegi Fuszeres (Gelbmann Pince) 10.6% Quite pleasant but again off-dry. Reminiscent of Riesling.
Keknyelu and Olaszrizling (Badacsonyi Tomaj Cuvee) 12.5%

This is a find. We were beginning to think Hungarian white was all off-dry to medium sweet. This was refreshing and interesting. Not a sensational discovery but let's say worthwhile importing provided the price was right (£6?). Better than anything Chapel Hill has to offer!
Juhfark by Pantlika at 12.5%
Slightly petillant, less aromatic and perhaps less characterful than the example tasted in Buda but pleasantly drinkable. Sadly not an essential candidate for export.

Kadarka (Duzsi Tamas) 12.5%
More enjoyable but less 'ethnic than the Kadarka tasted at the Kiraly Borhaz cellars in Buda. Akin to a light Beaujolais. By the same token a bit 'international' and so less interesting.
Cabernet Franc (Tamas & Zsolt Gere, Villanyi) 13% This was "good enough but not enough good" as my dear artist, the great Russian bass Evgeny Nesterenko used to say.
Egri Bikavers by Tibor Gal for Gundel at 13% and the other by Thummerer (13.5%) The first should be passed over in silence and the second soon forgotten.
Bock Kekfrankos from Villanyi (13%). Again pleasant while it lasted but to be honest - unmemorable.

There are surely better Hungarian wines to be had but it is beginning to become clear why they are not very much in evidence internationally, with the exception of Tokaj of course. We will have to find another pretext to return there and perhaps come back with a mixed case from the (more expensive) wine merchant, Bortarsasag.