Saturday, 21 December 2013

Enoteca Ronchi, Milan's oldest wine merchant

You have to be in the know just to find Enoteca Ronchi and then a bit of experience at burglary would not go amiss in actually gaining access to the premeses.

Nil desperandum: the locals and those in the know will help even when the first time visitor could swear the place was closed and probably out of business.

Not a bit of it. Enoteca Ronchi is in rude health with welcomimg, knowledgeable staff and a raft of well-chosen and fascinating bottles. Its discretion and self-confidence only go to encouraging the punter once he or she gains access to the inner sanctum.

Our guide was a Breton from Brittany whose knowledge of wine could hardly have been acquired locally (this is the chap pouring over some reference book with a colleague). Once we had spun our usual line about the rare grape varieties he pointed us unerringly towards these beauties;

L'Acerbina (principally known as Lumassina) is yet another interesting grape from Liguria grown, like those of the Cinque Terre on the cliffs and mountains going down to the sea. It originated around Genova according to Wine Grapes and is now grown mainly around Savona and most frequently used in blends. This example is Lumassina in purezza and went down a treat as an aperitif at one of our recent Slotovino orgies. Note: modest alcohol at 11% did not preclude lovely and pungent aromatics a-plenty.

Next was an equally obscure red from Lombardia made from 100% Moradella. Never heard of it? Join the club! Wine Grapes has, though and tells us a fascinating story of the Rise and Fall of this variety.

Once prolific in Oltrepo Pavese and Pavia, its popularity has declined in favour of Barbera. It has never been included in the Italian national register of varieties and is not therefore mentioned in any of the DOC regulations. 'Wine Grapes' goes on to say it is now found only in old vineyards but is prised by growers (despite high susceptibility to powdery mildew) and is used incognito with Barbera and Croatina in blends. Real cloak and dagger stuff! We love it.

There were more bottles with fascinating  stories to tell including a Barbarossa from the only producer in the world to make a wine exclusively from this grape.

The vines of this vineyard were taken as cuttings from 100 year old plants.

There are only so many bottles Slotovino can take home in cheched luggage but Enoteca Ronchi had enough for several trips. We shall return!

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