Sunday, 24 March 2013

March 22nd and Italy comes to Freeland

The English love to discuss the weather, and this day in March was no exception with the forecasters confirming that this March is the coldest for over 50 years, all the more surprising given that 12 months ago we enjoyed a relative heatwave. How does this effect the members of the Wine Club?  A reasonable assumption would be that turnout would be way down with members choosing to stay home and keep warm.  Well that couldn't be more wrong, a full house welcomes the hosts to the evening, Mat and Hazel Coburn,

Mat and Hazel gave the membership a very good, interesting and thorough tour of wines and cheeses from that part of Italy we all know of but probably don't know.

The regions of Veneto and Friuli in the North Eastern part of Italy.

So, an behalf of all the Wine Club members a very big thank you to Mat and Hazel for all their considerable efforts of organising the evening - not least of all, quite literally carrying the many bottles of wine and mixed cheeses from Italy in their luggage that we are able to enjoy on the 22nd.

Italy is famous for many  types of wine and many, many grape varieties, I doubt if there are any experts so knowledgeable that all of the 1,000 plus varieties would be known by one person.  The country, unlike the rest of Europe, was not devastated by the fungal infection that decimated the major areas of wine growing in Europe in the later days of the 19 century.

So what of the wines?

As ever to drink Proseccco is always a boost to how one feels, and the first wine, a lively, fresh and crisp Prosecco was a joy to start our tasting with.   The vineyard (Ruggeri) produce about a million bottles a year with 40% of the production exported.  A Google search will bring up Tesco as a suplier of this wine if bought via their delivery service.  Incidentally I see that Tesco is the biggest supplier of wine within the UK supplying 1 in every 4 bottles of wine sold here.

This was accompanied by a rare treat, a cheese made form both Gorganzola and Mozzarella. Just gorgeous and a perfect match

Another white followed, this time the Manzoni Bianco, and this variety itself a cross of Pinot Blanc and Riesling, as they say..."Who'd have thought it?"  A fine, easy to drink white with low levels of acidity.   Produced by the Cecchetto Vineyard, the same vineyard that supplied three wines at our tasting.

Our third wine of the night was unusual, first it was described as a red but looked like a Rosé but then tasted like a white.  This was the Tai Rosso Riserva.  The wine from the Berici vineyard has been developed from one of the very oldest of Italian grape varieties. the Tia Rosso.

How was the wine? Well best drunk in the sun, in the evening with friends, the wine would be a delight under such circumstances, the Village Hall was really warm last night, we were with friends, so almost there.  So yes an enjoyable  'soft wine' that was very easy and good to drink. Possibly best with 'nibbles' or a light meal.

Then on to 'proper' reds, a fine collection, the last one being the one that caused the most comment, but more of that anon.

Wine number four was a Friuli wine, now if you come from Venito or Friuli this becomes very important, I can speak with some personal experience when I can report of the fierce local pride that those from the various regions of Italy describe the area in which the live and work.  Also the fierce pride that is given over to the local wines, cheeses hams etc.  So this wine was from Friulo, a fine red, but made from a  grape variety that you, Dear Reader, you may or possible not have heard of, it is the Refosco dal peduncolo rosso.  Very little tanin or astringency here, a super wine to have with a pasta dish.

Wine five, here another grape variety surprise, the grape that is famously produced so well in South America, the Carmenér grape.  From Italy it tasted very good.  No lingering astringency but a rounded and good depth of flavour. This was the most popular wine of the evening.

Our final wine is described by its producer as one like a fine horse but a horse that needs to be tamed.  For some that taming was not quite complete, for others the wine was superb. It was a more pricey wine but one that would sit well with a wild boar ragu. Again this wine from the  Cecchetto vineyard.

The Mystery wine was for all but two people remained a mystery, a wine that was said to come from Hungary, UK or Chile but if fact was from France and was the very same wine that was tasted by us at the tasting last Autumn when we were joined by the manager of the Montravel vineyard in France. It was the vineyard's Sec.

The NEXT meeting will be on the evening of MAY 31st, the wines will be chosen from those available sold under the Fairtrade label.

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  1. Thanks to Mat and Hazel for an informative and personal account of this Italian region. Thanks also to Bruce for the blog with photographs. I particularly liked the inexpensive Refosco red - agreeing with Mat's sister from the region.


  2. Adrian, good to get comments on the Blog so thanks, I hope the Blog informs and can be used for back reference if needed. B