Friday, November 23, 2018

Il vino della Sicilia presso l'IIC di Bruxelles

Consegna della guida AIS al direttore Grossi
Oggi si è svolta una serata sul vino della Sicilia, organizzata dal Club AIS di Bruxelles presso l'Istituto Italiano di Cultura della nostra città.

Il Club AIS ringrazia l'istituto ed il direttore Paolo Grossi per la generosa ospitalità.

L'evento si è inserito nella "settimana sulla gastronomia italiana" organizzata da vari anni dal Ministero degli Esteri e della Cooperazione presso le sedi diplomatiche in tutto il mondo.

La manifestazione è cominciata con una presentazione di Marco Carnovale, rappresentante AIS a Bruxelles, sul vino della Sicilia.

L'evento si è svolto in lingua italiana, in linea con la missione dell'istituto, ed ha vista l'affluenza numerosa (tutto esaurito!) della comunità italiana residente in Belgio come pure di molti belgi ed altri espatriati che parlano la nostra lingua.

La presentazione è visibile online.

Calogero stappa per il pubblico

È quindi seguita una degustazione di vini siciliani, con la partecipazione dei seguenti produttori: Firriato, Planeta, Tasca d'Almerita, Regaleali, Villagrande, Feudo Arancio, Cusumano, Nanfro, Palari, Tenute Orestiadi, Tenuta Terre Nere, Morgante.

Il nostro ringraziamento va anche agli importatori di vino siciliano (e di  tutta Italia) in Belgio per la loro entusiasta e generosa partecipazione: Licata, rappresentata da Calogero Licata, siciliano, una colonna dell'importazione di vino italiano di qualità in Belgio da quasi 40 anni. 

Biagio Sorce, anche lui siciliano, ha portato i vini di Young Charly

Marian aiuta gli appassionati a degustare

Invece Roberto Marcon, che siciliano non è ma importa anche vini siciliani a Bruxelles, ha rappresentato Marcon Vini

Gianfranco Raineri importa vino italiano nel Limburgo ed è stato rappresentato da Marian Cansse.

Svariati produttori hanno anche condiviso un assaggio del loro olio di oliva extravergine a completamento della panoramica sulle eccellenze siciliane.

Biagio spiega il vino siciliano

Roberto e Roberto all'opera

Luca mesce per gli appassionati

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

New Zealand wine and Maori art

New Zealand wines in 2018

Beautiful room in the Royal Academy, set up by NZ Wines for the exhibition of Maori art, which we are allowed to enter for free. There I attended a wine tasting, starting with Sauvignon Blanc, and found that these best wines were from Marlborough. They also tried a variety of other wines, including Chardonnay, Viognier, Riesling, and Syrah.

I found that the Chardonnays were not particularly impressive, and that the Pinot Noirs were disappointing. The best Syrah they tried was from Elephant Hill, a winery in Hawke's Bay. The best Riesling was a botrytised Riesling from Pegasus Bay, a winery in Canterbury.

Overall a positive and enjoyable experience, and learned a lot about New Zealand wines.

Even though they offer us Riesling first, I started with Sauvignon Blanc. The first ones in the lower range are squeezed stones. I skip the details. Instead, going up the category here are the best ie best balanced.


Here some of my notes from the best tastings.

Rapaura, Marlborough the best so far great nose, figs and almonds perfect balance

Yealands single vineyard, Marlborough super sauvignon typicality, but not aggressive

Esk Valley, Marlborough the softest so far, but not complex, it declines in the end

Babich, Marlborough intense, very complex and persistent

Babich black label not as complex or long as the other Babich

Babich organic simple wine, they try it with the organic but it is not easy

Rapaura reserve, Marlborough explosive in floral nose complex and long the best so far, by far score 90

Jackson estate stich, Marlborough great nose moderate complexity

Saint clair 2017 wailau réserve Complex some caramel perfect balance

Te pa oke 2017 wairau valley impressive wine complex and long toasted notes score 90

I tried various Chardonnays but for me they confirm themselves as a sole, despite Jancis Robinson recently writing positive reviews about them. Maybe I am spoiled by so many Burgundy but these lack backbone. They try to charm but they do not convince.

A couple of Viognier without infamy and without praise, they still have to work on it.


babich family estated 2017 fruity good nose score 86

Felton road Bannock burn central Otago similar to the previous 19 gbp

Felton road block 1 a tad sweet ending good x fine meal score 86 33 gbp expensive


Pinot noirs present surprisingly are not up to par.

Syrah Craggy range, le sol, 2016 good wine esp nose way too expensive 70 gbp, they are crazy

Elephant hill stone Syrah 2015 Hawker Bay best so far not cheap 44 gbp

Pegasus bay, 2016 Canterbury encore noble Riesling, botrytized nice afternoon finish, minerality and softness in perfect balance, good length excellent end for tasting 21 gbp for half a bottle

Monday, March 26, 2018

Sake pairing master class with Isa Bal MW

Isa Bal is a friendly Turkish expert of sake.  Here is some points from my notes of his masterclass.

Sake imports increases 20pc in last 5 years in the UK, no longer esoteric, western consumers know more. 

Three old misconception gone: 
1. No longer drink only with Japanese food, 
2. people understand it is not distilled but fermented and 
3. it is not necessary to drink it warm. Now easier to sell sake in Europe.

Junmai-shu (rice only; no adding of distilled alcohol)
Honjozo-shu (little distilled alcohol is added)
Ginjo-shu (highly polished rice, with or without alcohol added)
Daiginjo-shu (even more highly polished rice, with/without added alcohol)
Koshu (aged sake, only a small % of production)


rice, different kinds, main by far is the Yamada Nishiki

water, main component to characterize "terroir"

kojo (fungus transform rice's starch in fermentable sugar)

yeast (ferments sugar into alcohol, carefully selected, never indigenous)


Polishing: want to keep only core of rice. 70% polish to remove fat and proteins means only 30% of rice grain is left to ferment.

Parallel fermentation, yeast and Kojo work simultaneously very complex to master by brewery

Serving temperature can be anything between 5 to 55 degrees Celsius.

Depend on personal taste but also season. Best sake should not be heated too much or lose aroma.

Traditionally served in square wooden boxes or porcelain cups but depends on style of location, glass ok in modern setting. Not so fussy like in wine about shape and size of vessel.

Alcohol content significant, about 15pc but not more than a strong wine.

Can make sake anywhere and call it sake but not "Nihon shu" which is literally "Japanese sake".

Can keep open bottle for a week or more and oxidation is very slow.


Today's tasting included 10 sakes, 9 newly bottled and 1 aged from 1992. After initial tasting we matched with beef meat balls in tomato sauce, Parmigiano, artichoke in olive oil and goose liver paté.

Meat balls difficult match.

Artichoke easiest, best pair with all sakes good match also in relative terms because virtually no wine will do, best with fruitier fresher sakes from north of Japan

Parmigiano and goose liver paté more flexible and can be matched with different sakes, especially the more full bodied ones from the south

about 50 Sommeliers at tasting, we came up with wildly different opinions on paring, because it's new and different for most of us but lots of fun trying! need to be adventurous and brave!

A lady who works to promote sake in Europe, I think at Japanese chamber of commerce, said that sake is like Japanese people : easygoing, don't like fighting (sic) prefer to go smoothly together. Sake is therefore a forgiving generous drink that will adapt to lots of different kinds of food.

She also said that sake is like the Japanese who adopt the Buddhist view to enjoy the present without thinking too much about the future so sake is made to drink soon, no aging. I asked why we tasted today an aged sake (vintage 1992) which in my opinion was the best of the 10 we tasted, complex sweet but toasted, ok with torta della nonna, apple pie, even grilled meat with caramelized sauce like pork chops. She said that one can age some sakes and the result can appeal to Europe taste because Europeans are used to aging wine, tertiary flavors.

Sake can last longer when you open bottle, oxidation slower, she said she keeps open bottle in fridge for over a week (which means she must be a lonely drinker in the evening...)

Water essential, Japan gets lots of rain, no problem for now, yet even now use deep sea water with low salinity.

Terroir not as important as in wine, most important the hand that makes it. Can transport rice and yeast across the country. Water only local ingredient. not so important good year and bad year as in wine vintages because the ingredients do not change appreciably from one year to the next.

North Japan sake is usually more crisp and dry, in the south rich and sometimes a bit sweet, both go with local food.

At the end of the tasting a reporter for a Japanese radio interviewed me and asked if I thought it might be possible to make good sake in Europe. Some are trying, including in the UK. I said I did not know if it would be as good but it would probably be different unless the European brewers import all ingredients from Japan, like the Japanese do when they make whisky, with excellent results. Water however would be more difficult to import so the end product will be different.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Tasting Piemonte

Some impressions from a tasting in London. Mostly 2011 to 2014, many Barolo and a few Barbaresco. 

Tendency is a return to traditional wine making approach, American excessive globalized taste of too much wood no longer in fashion though many still like it. 

Chinese buying land in Piedmont, even if follow rules and traditions it is not the same because locals...take the money and run. Now it becomes strictly business, passion is lost. Some Chinese buyers buzzing around at tasting today. 

Overall, UK Rrp for single vineyard Barolo start at 50 gbp and up. Barbaresco 35. nebbiolo generico da 15, Dolcetto 10.

2010 e 2013 ottime annate, solo il 2016 supererà, grandi attese. 2011 e 2015 buone, 12 e 14 difficili. 

Migliori produttori di oggi sono Conterno e Scavino.

Conterno ci ha anche aperto un 2008 (RRP 58 GBP) e un 2010 (fuori di testa a 122 GBP), entrambi in via di maturazione ma ancora giovani.

Scavino grande gamma, Bric del Fiasc si conferma, ma non c'era rocche dell'Annunziata perché 2014 non lo hanno prodotto. Il "Novantesimo", blend del 2011 per 90° anniversario fondazione della casa, non vale RRP 212!! Ci ha aperto un 2006 Cannubi, e un 2006 Carobric, quasi pronti, il Cannubi vale i 64 GBP. Il nebbiolo langhe base di Scavino a 17 GBP è un affare.

Fratelli Brovia buon lavoro, il brolo villero 2013 a 65 GBP è caro ma molto armonioso.

Voerzio troppo caro, RRP oltre i 180 GBP!!

Buono il Monvigliero di Verduno 2011 a RRP 54 GBP

Ottimi i Barbaresco 2014 di Piero Busso sui 40 GBP. Barbaresco can be much better value than Barolo.