Monday, 2 February 2009

Roma, Lazio, January 27/28, 2009

Enoteca Costantini is in the Piazza Cavour opposite the Corte Suprema di Cassazione in Roma. It is a venerable and institutional temple to wine. The art nouveau (or perhaps 'Liberty' as the Italians will have it) grills and door handles suggest up to 100 years' pedigree.

Red jacketed gentlemen floor walkers in the basement will gruffly direct you to whatever you are looking for. Laconic but indubitably knowledgeable, mine produced a contender Cesanese which I needed to prove whether or not there was any merit in the regional grape of Lazio (the jury is still out), a Vernaccia Nera in response to my request for an 'uvaggio sconosciuto'

and a Piedirosso which ended up as one we have already had from Ischia - none the worse for that.

Now the story of the Vernaccia Nera has an interesting epilogue. We opened our bottle of Pianetta di Cagnore 2003 from Antico Terreno Ottavi of San Severino, near Macerata, Marche to console ourselves on returning home after being thrown out of LHR Terminal 5 following the cancellation of our BA flight to Delhi on the snowy 2nd of February. We reported thet the wine tasted 'rustic and assertive'. On our return almost 2 weeks later we removed the Vac-U-Vin to discover the wine was not only in great shape but had evolved into something very delicious indeed: something reminiscent of a good Douro red. Further research on the internet show this wine is well known to connoisseurs in Germany and Italy. A palpable find!

All three were between 10 and 15 Euros and especially the Vernaccia Nera was worth the Schlep. Fiumicino was more disappointing than I remember it for the purchase of wine: no discoveries to be made there!

In the restaurants of Rome there were some pleasant experiences. In a new and very idiosyncratic outfit called 'Methodo Classico' (but without any name outside), Via Guglielmo Calderini 62/64, 063244262, there is cultivated and original cuisine of a high order dispensed by a Romanian, a Slovenian and an Italian. The wines are chosen with enormous flair. We had a Cuvee including Sauvignon Blanc and 'others' from an appelation we had not encountered previously ('Dolomiti') and mirabile dictu an extraordinary Montepulciano d'Abruzzo chosen by The Maestro who had enjoyed it already the previous evening and wisely stuck to what he knew was good.

This was the first Italian restaurant where we have seen Grange Hermitage on display and maybe even available to order.

The other pleasant discovery was in the Ristorante Amatriciana opposite the Teatro dell'Opera where the vino della casa is a Cesanese/Merlot blend. Surprisingly good.

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