A mainly Italian themed weekend

Last weekend was very Italian-esque for my fiancée and I. Okay, so we weren’t exactly enjoying gelatto in the blistering Sicilian sunshine, more like pints of Beamish in a bitterly cold beer garden in Rochestown, but on the wine front there was plenty to keep us dreaming of an Italian honeymoon.

I didn’t plan it, but five of the seven wines we enjoyed over the weekend were Italian. And just in case you think we drink too much, that was over three full days (we took Monday off work) and we had some help from family and friends.

When I’m deciding which wines to take home on a Friday evening I almost always go for wines I have yet to try (with Mike being our Chief Taster the odd one skips me initially), or failing that, something I haven’t tried in a long time.

Poggiobello Sauvignon Blanc: We’ve had this Friuli Sauvignon for as long as I can remember. It’s a quietly brilliant wine, certainly not of that typical Sauvignon style that can perhaps be a little repetitive in the New World. It’s undergone some light oak ageing adding an amazing dimension to it, but it’s also matured since I tried it last, and for me it’s a better wine now than it was the first time I tried it. The acidity has softened ever so slightly, allowing more subtle and interesting flavours to shine through.

Farina Montecorna Valpolicella Ripasso: We currently have the 2009 in stock, which will being going live on the website in the next day or two, but I had the 2005 stashed away from the previous batch we received. I love Ripasso for its elegance and lightness, yet it has a concentration and depth aided by a very distinctive dried fruit Amarone-like richness. The Montecorna has a sweetness, yet the finish is dry, and it went superbly with a two year old cheddar we’d purchased at the Midleton market on Saturday morning.

Bricco dei Guazzi Albarossa: Most definitely the “funkiest” wine of the weekend. The nose was intriguing, not for everyone, but Bronagh and I loved it. It had me reminiscing of some sort of berry cordial I had when I was a kid, and then those lashings of licorice (again, not for everyone) evoked more childhood memories. A fascinating wine and grape variety, Albarossa is certainly one for the curious wine drinker.

Tabali Late Harvest Muscat: The only non-EU wine we had at the weekend, this Chilean dessert wine was chosen as a less expensive alternative to Sauternes. I needed something to go with a big hunk of Cashel blue cheese, also acquired from the market. It was a marriage made in heaven. The strength of flavour and the creaminess of the cheese mingled beautifully with the musky honeyed sweetness of the wine. “You can take your Sauternes…”, I can hear the Chileans shout.

V8+ Sior Lele Rosé Brut Spumante: My first taste of the pink from the V8+ range. A sexy and tantalising bottle it might be, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts, and it didn’t disappoint as it was the perfect aperitif before we got sat down for an Indian feast on Sunday evening. It goes to show once again that sparkling wine shouldn’t be brought out solely for special occasions. Open one and make the wine itself the occasion.

Dignite Viognier: We sold out of this Frenchie just before Christmas but Mike pulled one out of a hat and we made quick work of it over our Indian meal. Time has been kind to this wine, mellowing out the acidity and, not unlike the Poggiobello, bringing forward the best of the oak yet retaining good varietal expression. It complimented the relatively mild Durban chicken very well I thought. A very accomplished wine.

Marsala Superiore Riserva Vito Curatolo Arini: A lovely way to finish the weekend. Light, refreshing and palate cleansing, this Marsala has tons of character and finishes with a distinct nutty savouriness. Marsala is savagely underrated here in Ireland, but I believe every fridge should either have a good Marsala or a good sherry sat next to the milk carton.

There’s 20% off Italy until the end of April, including the above Italians, so there’s no better time to experience the spice of life…

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