If you’re a regular here at Katy’s Table, you will know that from time to time I have been known to enjoy a glass or two (or three) of wine. A big part of my love for wine, and its allure, is that no matter how hard I try – there will always be more to learn, discover and experience. I’ve met many well-meaning gents, self-styled Wine Masters who will try to convince you that they are the keepers of all wine knowledge. I just don’t believe that such a deep, complex subject such as wine can be entirely understood in one lifetime. Which is why I firmly follow the rule that when in doubt, defer to the Locals.
During my adventures in Livorno, I came across Cantina Nardi – a small enoteca or wine bar, spilling out onto the pavement, serving lunch, dinner and aperitivos. The walls are lined with an overwhelming display of wines, champagnes, liqueurs and spirits and the shining shelves form an optical illusion of potential intoxication. I start chatting with the owner’s son, who helps me tremendously by being able to communicate with me in English. I immediately see the familiar and delicious Super Tuscans, although the €80+ price tag forces me to take a step back, and consider other options. Following advice from my new-best-friend-in-wine, I leave with three bottles of Bolgheri reds, all three from illustrious estates although from their middle-priced ranges (between €18- €20).
Il Bruciato 2010, is produced by Tenuta Guado al Tasso in Bolgheri, which is part of the Antinori stable and is, I am assured, the most popular wine at Cantina Nardi with the locals fighting to get their hands on a precious bottle. At around €19, this blend (50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 20% Syrah) is packed with juicy strawberries and red fruit with just a touch of spicy cinnamon on the finish.
Le Serre Nuove 2009 is another delicious blend, and for once I agree that the label says it all – “ ‘Second vin’ of Ornellaia, and produced primarily from the Estate’s younger vineyards, the wine combines the pedigree of the flagship wine with accessibility and the vigour of youth”. Nice of them to put in English too.
Guidalberto 2009, is the mid range offering from the Sassicaia Estate. Following the juicy, heavily Cab-Merlot based blends of the earlier two I was pleasantly surprised by the Sangiovese (10%) influence on the finish that added spicy basil and liquorice flavours that I was not expecting. A bit heavier than the two previous, but still a knockout wine.
So perhaps you are wondering to yourself, how is that Katy manages to sound so knowledgable when she is a self-confessed boozer? My new favourite drinking companion is my Moleskine Wine Journal – given to me as a gift and now indispensable! Not only is it a great way to remember the details of that great wine you once tasted when you were out to lunch, at that place, you know? With whats-his-name and you both had the risotto? No, you won’t remember. I never remember, which is why I have this amazing journal.
The layout was obviously designed by a person far cleverer than me, because as you record all the details, you are forced to follow a sequence of steps that really help you to enjoy your wine to the full. I find that if I open the bottle and pour a glass of wine, by the time I’ve worked my way through all the details, just enough time has passed to let the wine settle and breathe in the glass. Then by moving through Appearance, Nose and finally Taste, I have a well-rounded understanding of the wine’s personality. Be warned though, carrying your Wine Journal around with you will give you a Food Geek rep faster than making your own Master Chef audition tape. Consider keeping your journal for quiet evenings at home.
Moleskine Wine Journal is available from my new favourite website, www.yuppiechef.co.za for R235 with free delivery within South Africa. It is packed with very tempting gadgets that you never thought you needed. Just this week I’ve conviced myself that I need a Mellerware Home Biltong Maker. Of course I do. The website is also a great resource for finding gifts for your beloved foodies (Christmas will be here soon).
Livorno Now, local tourist information Website
Yuppie Chef – Premium Kitchen Tools Website
Tenuta dell’Ornellaia Website
Tenuta San Guido Website
Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Antinori Website
Cantina Nardi, Livorno Website