Saturday 31 October 2009

Torn' a Venezia

In September 2009 we wrote about ‘Al canton del vin’ in Castello, Venice. In early October we made a new and lengthier visit to this most interesting wine shop selling Vino Sfuso as well as some very interesting wine in bottle.

Effortlessly, the diversity on offer is huge: perhaps more than in any shop anywhere in the world not actually trying to offer as large a range of grape varieties as possible. Consider first the Vini Sfusi on offer:


Cabernet Franc
Cabernet Sauvignon
Incrocio Manzoni Rosso
Pino Rosso (Pinot Nero)


Incrocio Manzoni Bianco
Pinot Bianco
Prosecco Spento
Ramandolo (Verduzzo Dorato)
Sauvignon Bianco
Tocai (sic)

We bought a litre each of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Raboso which were amazing for their freshness given the fact it was toward the end of the season with the new wine about to arrive soon.

On the shelves we found a 100% Gropello called ‘Maim’ by Costaripa (12.5%)

Gropello is a pseudonym for Rossignola which is a variety permissible in Bardolino and Valpolicella as well as a Brescia equivalent of those wines called Valtinesi Rosso. On tasting (27.12.09) this turned out to be a surprisingly meaty, savoury and chewy wine for its low alcoholic content. Certainly something to beef up the Corvina, Rondinella etc. of Bardolini etc. We also bought a 'Malbeck' by Musarango from the Veneto Orientale (12%).

The helpful Monica gave us a tutorial between serving regulars who came in to fill their empty mineral water bottles and a chat on the way home from work. These regulars were mostly elderly with decided tastes for one or other of the Vini Sfusi and endless gossip despite others waiting to be served.

Monica didn’t stint on telling us all about the business of selling wine on draft in Venice. She said there were now only about 3 more such shops in the city. The season begins with Torbolino which is still-fermenting grape juice, presumably something like ‘Federweisse’ in Hessen. This can be from various of the above grapes: Prosecco and Cabernet Sauvignon have been mentioned.

On the shelves was another rarity; bottles without any label. These turned out to be sweet Fragolino which at 4% was too low in alcohol to be sold as wine. Monica gave us tastes of this and various other Vini Sfusi, something other proprietors are very loath to do. We told her about what we had heard concerning the difficulties of selling draft wine in the UK. The problem there seems to be that such wine, if cheap enough would attract people who would drink it in the shop or on the pavement and get drunk. Monica said that never happened in Venice.

As a footnote to our visit to ‘Al Canton del Vino’ Castello 3156 (Salizada San Francesco) we would just mention the leaflet offering courses by the Federazione Italiana Sommelier Albergatori Ristoranti (F.I.S.A.R.) dedicato a tutte le persone che desiderano conoscere, capire e degustare I vini. Maybe on our next visit?

On to the Enoteca Vino e…vini (3566 di Castello, Salizada del Pignater. Tel/Fax 041 521 0184, They sell a much smaller selection of Vino Sfuso, excusing themselves by saying they only sell the good stuff. On this occasion we found a true rarity, a bottle of Osoleta in purezza. The only mention of this grape we had seen so far was as a component of Masi’s ‘Toar’, a blend of Corvina (75%) and Osoleta (25%). Our bottle was called “Oz” 2006 and is made by Azienda Agricola Zyme of S. Pietro in Cariano, Verona and weighs in at 13.5%.

We were assured this was a luscious wine. We look forward to checking this assertion. The price was almost as high as our expectations.

We also bought a 100% Canaiolo (Canaiolo Provenzano by Azienda Agricola Marciano, Toscana (Siena)2006, 13%) which is almost as difficult to find
and a bottle of our runner-up to the 2008/9 Slotovino Best Red award, Antico Terren Ottavi’s 100% Vernaccia Nera “Pianetta in Cagnore” from Le Marche which we had previously found in Rome.

Like Venice’s artistic treasures, the wine of the Veneto seems to hold an inexhaustible number of secrets waiting to be discovered. Today one of the British Saturday wine columnists writes

‘Wine: The great unknown
Avoid the star names of the grape world, and you may well stumble across a bargain’

And the grapes mentioned? Zibbibo, Syrah, Grenache, Chenin, Colombard and Primitivo. If these are the great unknown, what chance is there for Osoleta?

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Fraser Jamieson of Corney and Barrow

In a talk at the Royal Society of Medecine Fraser Jamieson made two interesting statements. The first, that when we buy a bottle of French wine we are not buying grape varieties but a slice of land (terroir). And the other point was made by his choice of wines, all from Burgundy. How can it be explained why the same grapes made in the same way produce wines as different as Chablis and St. Aubin in such a small geographical area?

Good points, well made but it would be interesting to know how much microclimates and clones contribute and surely the vinification and cellaring can't be identical? Apart from anything else, those who make Chablis know they are making Chablis and those who make St. Aubin have a different goal in sight. Fraser Jamieson has worked in Burgundy so is certainly aware of all the variables.

Red Champenois at Rogano's.

Rogano's restaurant in Glasgow have Chalons en Champagne - Coteaux Champenois Cumieres Rouge, Joseph Perrier NV AT £57.50 on the winelist. They explained to us they are changing the list but might have a bottle left for anyone that ambitious to try a still red wine (presumably Pinot Noir) from Champagne. This is a true rarity getting very few mentions even on the internet. If anyone has any experience of this wine, we'd be very interested to know more.