Spring has sprung… and the corks are off… by Gordon Lawrence, Head Sommelier
Here in Cornwall we’ve been seeing the first signs of spring. After several poor months it’s time to think about coming out of our shells. For me this time of year means a trip to Verona to visit Vinitaly the annual wine fair for the Italian wine industry and a fantastic opportunity to catch up with loads of friends and their wines. We try new stuff and get up to speed with all the business gossip.
The main thing I came away with this year was how much the wines at the cheaper end of the market (wines retailing for £8-£10) have improved over the past few years. Our favourite smart Tuscan and Piemontese wines are also getting better and better, but this year I felt that the cheaper end of the spectrum is at a really interesting point.
Wine making skills and techniques have improved more in the last 20-30 years than in the previous 2000. These techniques are being adopted all over Italy and the resultant wines are showing great promise. Super fresh whites perfect for this time of year, most of them made with indigenous grape varieties which, I believe, we will all become a lot more familiar with in the future.
Living proof of this is a great friend of ours named Mark Shannon. We sell a lot of his bianco, a wine based on the grape variety Fiano, I think we will see a lot more of this grape variety this year. When carefully vinified the wine shows a voluptuous floral perfume with a dash of bracing acidity. Mark trained as a winemaker in California and this clearly shows in the crisp, pure nature of his wines. He allows the fruit to shine through, making a wine perfect for lighter seafood and shellfish. Read more about Mark and his wines here www.amanowine.com
I also tasted fantastic white wines made with grape varieties such as Grillo, Greco and Catarratto. All indigenous to southern Italy and Sicily and really worth looking out for.
My top tips – look out for wines made from one of the following to move on from Sauvignon Blanc. All these wines work well with fish, shellfish and salads…..
Grillo, one of the most important grape varieties from Sicily. Makes a lovely savoury wine when well cared for.
Fiano as I mentioned above, this grape makes a floral aromatic white wine with loads of depth.
Also check out a white wine grape from the North of Italy, Arneis can make a really interesting white wine with structure and attractive fruit. It comes from Piedmont and I have seen a few good examples recently on the shelves in UK supermarkets.
If you are dining with us in the evening we offer a 3, 4, 5 or 7 course wine tasting package where you get to try some of the fantastic wines we have on offer. Each wine course is specially selected by our wine team to compliment each food course and we will tell you more about the wine while we pour it at your table. Alternatively we can also help you select a bottle of wine to accompany your meal, we’re here to help and hopefully introduce you to some wonderful new wines.