Thursday 22 December 2016


The latest in our miscellany corner. After Valderi Valdera, Potpourri and Gemischter Salat comes Salmagundi meaning Gemischter Salat more or less.

On the menu today are some real finds;

Roesler, Roesler, Roesler rot! What else but an Austrian hybrid? Antecedents include various Seyve-Villards and Seibels, Blaufraenkisch, Klosterneuberg and something called Subereux. There are about 137 ha. in Austria and one lonesome producer in Switzerland. This example came from 'The Sampler' in London. Hats off to Jamie Hutchinson.

 'The Sampler' also has a marvelous Frueroter Veltliner from the same producer, Schmelzer. At only 10.5% it may be drunk without fear.

Jeroboams were the source of the next rarity, Rossese Bianco from Piemonte. This was surprising because Jeroboams is not the first place we would go to for obscure grape varieties. Rossese bianco certainly is one of those although D'Agata tells us it was once more common than Rossese rosso to which it is probably unrelated. Just to make life more interesting there are other Rossese biancos also unrelated called Rossese Bianco di Arcola and Rossese Bianco di San Biagio. Never mind, just go to Jeroboams while stocks last; this Rossese Bianco  'Amalia' by Cascina in Langhe is delightful.

We haven't exactly been waiting for the last few decades for a Gragnano to come along but nevertheless not one but two did come along all of a sudden and we are tempted to say "where have you been all our lives?" 

'Tutto Vino' (nearly 900pp) with Band Aid box for scale.
In Enoteca Italiana's indispensible 'Tutto Vino' there is only a sketchy entry mentioning this sparkling red wine from the Penisola Sorrentina DOC which says "Nella doc sono previste 3 sottozone di provenienza: Sorrentino, Gragnano e Lettere." Further on it mentions 'Penisola Sorrentina Rosso Frizzante Naturale' and says this is made from the same grapes as the Penisola Sorrentino Rosso which are Piedirosso, Sciascinoso (called Olivella locally) and Aglianico. Like Lambrusco which it doesn't resemble, Gragnano may be secco or amabile.

We tasted the above, dry version thanks to Sangi Shop, an online wine-merchant from Basilicata who stock some interesting wines. As often happens, we turn to some merchant for that spacial bottle we are looking for and check the stock for other ideas to amortize the shipping costs. We found all sorts of favourites at Sangi Shop which are difficult to find in the UK so as well as Gragnano frizzante we ordered a Bonarda, a Grignolino, an Aglianici vinificato in bianco from Mastroberardino, a Torbato, a Coda di Volpe, a Refosco, a Piedirosso, a Lambrusco and a Bardolino - inexpensive wines for everyday drinking, not always easy to find in the UK.

They say Gragnano is a good Pizza wine. We think it is good for more than that.

If the name Gragnano rings a bell it's because you may have seen it on packets of Pasta. 

Gragnano pasta logo and description, below
Since 2010, Gragnano Pasta is recognized as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI)

Since 2010, Gragnano Pasta is recognized as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). On July 30, 2010 a public hearing was held for the approval of the PGI Pasta di Gragnano. With the Protected Geographical Indication, Gragnano Pasta can be protected from counterfeiting and abuse. The PGI is a brand that guarantees the origin and quality of the product. In the case of Gragnano Pasta, it also testifies a secular tradition. In Gragnano, since the sixteenth century there were factories for the production of dried pasta. The art of making pasta from durum wheat was handed down from generation to generation for centuries, right up to the present day.

Gragnano pasta has to be made with bronze frames and local water and must be packed in recyclable cardboard boxes or other recyclable materials.

At Restaurant Richer, Rue Richer in Paris we found this comparative rarity - an Alsace Auxerrois in purezza. They say this is usually blended with Pinot Blanc. It may take part in other re-incarnations such as Edelzwicker but here it was on its own and very good too. 

The reds at Richer were no less interesting. Here was our first chance to taste Mavro Kalavritino, a rare Greek variety from the Peloponnese. It may be seen from the stains on the label that this was a wine to drink with abandon.

Finally a rarity indeed. Wine made from a grape called Tamurro Nero is produced in purezza by Tenuta Le Querce, a large estate in Basilicata and nowhere else in the world. The story is that this grape was imported into Italy from France in the reign of Duke Filiberto di Savoia (1530 - 1588) who was said to prefer something less alcoholic and structured than Aglianico. Originally known as 'Coll Tamurr' meaning neck of a bull (apparently one of the first growers fitted that description). 

Tamurro was thought to be extinct but was re-discovered by Leonardo Pietrafesa, the owner of Tenuta Le Querce after an extensive search. He re-activated the variety on his estate and here it is. We found it by the most unlikely route; Tenta le Querce participates in the recently established Farmers' Market in Primrose Hill, London because the owners also have a place nearby. Indeed we struck up an instant friendship with Valentina Buscicchio Pietrafesa who has also several other wines from the estate on offer and who has written this lovely book of Traditional Basilicata recipes 'La Cucina della Basilicata' available in English. How serendipitous is that?

On a trip to Rome, we discovered Bellone, one of the major constituents of Frascati, hitherto unknown to Slotovino.

We had registered Malvasia Puntinata on a previous visit. Frascati is rather fascinating. Like Lambrusco or even Chianti at one time, it became a victim of its own popularity and is now climbing its way back up the slippery pole.


This was an excellent example we had at the famous Ristorante Piperno in the Ghetto.

This wine was unknown to Winesearcher so we called the vineyard and were told that it was only available at the cellar door.

Across town we had an outstanding Bonarda dell'Otrepo Pavese ('Vaiolet' by Monsupello) at the equally famous and venerable Ristorante Felice.

Initial doubt was dispelled by the many who volunteered to give this a try. One sip and they were converted.

At Trimani we bought a bottle of the Pecorello we had seen at Lamezia Terme Duty Free earlier in the year and a Croatina from the Colli Tortonesi.

Also at Trimani a Croatina 'fermo' (still). Increasingly difficult to find.

At Enoteca Costantino we found this Chambave by La Crotta de Vegnaron. The label tells us 'comopsto da almeno 70% da Petit Rouge, il vitigno rosso piu coltivato in Valle d'Aosta, mentre del rimanente 30% fanno parte altre varieta rossa tradizionali della nostra vallata.' Now what could they be? The Crotta de Vegneron (a small cooperative) mention Fumin and Vien de Nus as well as Gamay and Pinot Noir, but another site states with some confidence that the accompanying varieties are the two latter ones.

From Enoteca Lucantoni in another part of town we bagged a Nieddera, native Sardinian rarity

and an Aglianico Rosato from Paestum (a DOC new to us)  which was a big hit back at the ranch.



At Lucantoni we spied a bottle of Nero Buono 2014 by Baccarossa for E.17.70. A 2009 vintage of the same wine was sold to us in London for £39.99 Caveat emptor indeed.

Saturday 17 December 2016

Hungarian Haul

Here's a fun thing to do. Take a look at the websites of the Budget Airlines that fly into Budapest. Choose a day when the fares cost less than the trip to the airport. Fly out in the morning and back in the evening. While in BUD (Liszt Ferenc Airport, Budapest) spend your time at the Hungaricum shop in Departures (you'll need up to 3 hours) and buy as many bottles of unique Hungarian wine that may be carried onto the return flight.

You don't actually need any luggage but take a cabin bag with plenty of bubble wrap. You don't pay to take this on the way back even if it is stuffed with bottles. Make sure you can lift it above shoulder height in order to put it in the overhead bin. The entire cost will be less that shipping a case of wine bought on the internet from Hungary.

While at your exercise you will most probably have the pleasure of being served by a very helpful and well informed person who can tell you all you need to know about any bottle you may wish to investigate.

On our visit Angela was one such authority.

Some of the wines at Hungaricum are not that cheap but all are interesting. We bought;

Cserszegi Fuszeres is a successful Hungarian cross between Irsai Oliver and Savignin Rosé. It is quite commonly found in Hungary and thanks mainly to Hilltop, also abroad. The name is pronounced Chair-Segi Fiw-seresh. We have never really clocked this variety although we must have tasted it at some point. Now's our chance to decide if it goes into the Slotovino Hall of Fame.

Cirfandli is of course the Austrian Zierfandler, probably a cross between Roter Veltliner and Savignin. Zierfandler is the kind of grape that you hate at first but could get to love. An acquired taste we are hoping to acquire. Maybe this Hungarian version will help.

Actually there was another such wine we bought - a Keknyelu. This really tasted undrinkable to start with but a few days in the fridge under Argon gas and with some spicy food, it was really rather good. We had bought this on an earlier trip to Budapest (May 2014) and wrote "a Keknyelu from Matias (also 10.5%), not hugely impressive but again, hitting the spot as a refreshing food wine,"

We have had excellent and less than excellent experiences with Kiralyleanyka. What was aromatic at 13% one year was neutral the next AT 12.5%. Angela promised this one wasn't neutral. Hopefully it doesn't taste of Zebra or Rhino.

Olaszrizling is Grasevina, Welschriesling or Riesling Italico. Not related to Rhine Riesling, Riesling Renano or Rajnai Rizling. It's one of our favourites being characterful and interesting. We like Gere as a producer. We like Richard Gere as an actor. Could they by any chance be related?

Blauburger is an interesting variety. Like Cirfandli/Zierfandler it is actually Austrian but Austria and Hungary were one for many years so we'll not worry too much about that. It's a Blauer Portugieser x Blaufraenkisch cross or Kekporto x Kekfrankos if you prefer. When the Soho House restaurant in London chose a Blauburger as their House Wine we thought that was such an enterprising idea we bought 6 bottles and have been happily ploughing our way through them ever since. Now we can have a Blauburger tasting.

We just had to have a Kadarka even if this one couldn't possibly be any better than one from Oszkar Maurer. Maurer's wines are beginning to infiltrate the UK thanks to the Winemaker's Club and Isabelle Legeron MW but he is just across the border in Serbia so none of his wines are available at Hungaricum unfortunately.

What is available at Hungaricum, miraculously is the Menoire from Lajos Gal we have so enjoyed. this is a real rarity. Hats off the Hungaricum for carrying not only this but another Menoire too. An amazing thing for an airport duty free to do.

On previous forays we had bought Blauer Portugiesers from Frittman and Gere. Both absolutely delicious. Angela recommended this one.

The 'Menza' restaurant at midnight with the last customers eating their Székelykáposztas (Honey Cream Cakes).
No, we didn't do the Booze-Cruise to Hungaricum at Budapest airport suggested above. We were in Budapest for a concert, after which on strong advice we went to an Etterem (restaurant to you) called 'Menza.'

Duck livers!

Here you can eat wonderfully and try Hungarian wines by the glass.  It makes the trip into town worthwhile.