Have you watched the Netflix series Money Heist? This wine box is going to make you want to sing Bella Ciao out of pure unfiltered happiness!
The intersection between travel and wine is the Tour de Vino, a monthly wine box subscription presented by Commonwealth Wines and Spirits. More on this in a bit. Let’s talk wine!
There are many ways to explore the world, and many worlds of wine to explore. January starts us off in Italy. Italy is a very sentimental place for me. I have visited Italy a few times and have always had a great appreciation of Italian food, wine, culture and women (given that I dated an Italian woman for a while, and two of my closest friends are also Italian). Trust me, everything Italians do, they do it with passion.
Italy definitely produces the premier Pinot Grigio and if you’ve ever tried Soave (which is pronounced “swah-vay”) then you’ve gone into the depth of flavour of the Garganega grape; sexy like a good chardonnay. Uniqueness is the hallmark of Italian wine, and each region has a different signature. The Tuscan hills give you tradition, earthy and organic notes; Sangiovese is a lovely dark grape that hails from Umbria (along with some amazing black truffles). There is a lot to uncork in a bottle of Italian wine.
So, this month’s wine box has three lovely Italian wines: Caposaldo; a 2017 Chianti; Le Bruniche, a 2018 Tuscan Chardonnay and the Greco Di Tufo Villa Matilde which was a brand new grape varietal for me!
Caposaldo Chianti is a blend of Sangiovese (about 75%), 10% Cabernet, 10% Merlot and 5% Malvasia. On the nose you get lots of dark berries; blackberry, ripe plum are prominent, along with a hint of spice. This wine has an incredibly smooth texture. It is almost like liquid silk as you sip it and get the first knock of the dark berries on your taste buds.
Chianti’s can be a little peculiar in terms of profile, so it is important that you let this wine breath, and drink it at the appropriate temperature. It has a lot of the earthy notes of the lime and clay soil that Sangiovese grapes thrive in. On the finish, it reminds me of a dark cherry dusted lightly in white pepper. For me, this wine would go well with a tomato-based pasta dish (arriabitatta, or a good bolognese actually), but would also favour red meat like roasted lamb, or a pan-seared beef tenderloin. A terrific red, and great addition to the tasting table.
Chardonnay hardly impresses me. I usually find them too consistent, you know what I mean? Chardonnay is just chardonnay. Not this chardonnay. Tuscany makes me think of handmade gnocchi and basil pesto, or tagliatelle al tartufo (pasta covered in truffle sauce); very simple dishes with exquisite flavour. Le Bruniche was made to compliment Tuscan food, very clearly. The nose has a lot of lime and green citrus, you get hints of sunset-coloured ripe peaches and a little green apple.
Just smelling this wine was euphoric, then I tasted it and I had to put the damn glass down for a minute. The flavour is so bold. This wine is moreish. If you could taste warm sunlight shining over the Tuscan hills this is what it would taste like. As this is an unoaked Chardonnay (not aged in oak barrels), you find the buttery smoothness expected of chardonnay, and then exotic fruits: passion fruit, kefir or calamansi limes, and ripe summer pear with a light finish of a honeydew melon. I’d pair this beautiful liquid masterpiece with a pasta dish featuring langoustines or scallops, or pan-seared wahoo for the perfect compliment. I have never found myself so impressed by a chardonnay.
While I may know a fair amount about wine, I don’t know every grape, every varietal or every region so I am always geeked to try something new. I give you: Greco Di Tufo Villa Matilde.
I had to do a little research into this grape; the grape is called Greco by the way, and it seems the Italians were being a little cheeky and snagged a grape from the Greeks. Explains the name, right?
We can unravel the origins of the grape later, let’s get back to the wine itself. The first thing is the colour a very bold yellow. I was trying to pin precisely what fruit comes to mind when you take a whiff of it, and literally, as I was writing this review and thinking about it, my aunt handed me a starfruit. Talk about serendipity. It has an attractive fragrance of starfruit and apricots with just a hint of an almost pomelo essence.
Swirl it around in the glass and it’s complexity struts its stuff. The legs are long-standing, and when you take your first sip you are in for a treat. You get an earthy taste of almonds and a macadamia-nut-nuttiness aligned perfectly with heavy citrus coming up the lane behind it. The summer fruits, strawberries, blood oranges and grapefruit, poke through. This wine finishes beautifully with a lingering mineral flavour that is refreshingly bright. You are going to want to drink this wine with a veloute-based pasta, or a lobster pizza (maybe I’ll give you guys that recipe, who knows).
Now if you will excuse me, I am off to have a glass of wine!