Cantine Carpentiere, Pietra Dei Lupi 2005

IMG_1112I am not sure why, but this wine triggered my desire to write about my wine drinking experiences again.

I came across it last year, at an Italian wine tasting hosted by Reserve Wines* and curated by Rob from For The Love of Wine. FTLOW, for short, are one of Reserve Wines’ supplier of fine Italian wines, mainly from the Puglia region. Cantine Carpentiere is one of the wineries they represent and their wines are just fantastic.

The Cantine sits at the foot of Castel del Monte, a UNESCO World Heritage site, within the Alta Murgia National Park. Have a look on Google Street View, the flora and fauna look so splendidly wild and rich. Definitely my kind of destination for a holiday.

The Pietra dei Lupi is made from 100% Uva di Troia or Nero di Troia which basically means Trojan grape, allegedly imported from troy by Diomedes whilst in exile. In this part of the world, on low rolling hills, at 450m altitude, not far from the sea but quite far south in latitude, the diurnal range (difference in temperature between night and day) reaches high amplitudes. This is generally a good thing as it prolongs the ripening period of the grape and allows it to retain freshness and biting acidity, achieving optimum balance between flavour ripeness, alcohol and acidity. The grapes are hand-harvested at the end of October, then fermented in stainless steel where the new wine stays for another 3 months before going into huge Slavonian oak casks for a bit of oxidative ageing (approx. 12 months).IMG_1113

And here’s another piece of trivia – you never know, it could come up at your next pub quiz. The pietra dei lupi (in plain English: the wolf stone) is a piece of stone locked into the wall, or cantilevered, that hangs over the wall thereby preventing predators and rodents from jumping over and entering the pen. Well, at least it used to; I reckon it’s a bit more sophisticated nowadays.

When we tasted this wine last year, I remember thinking at the time that the tannins and presence of fruit along with the bright acidity warranted further cellaring. Based on recent reports of some bottles of that vintage having failed however, I thought I’d waited long enough.

At first it was fresh and crunchy with wild strawberries and red cherries, a hint of herbs and liquorice and a touch of those tertiary aromas that come with bottle age. Very elegant but the fruit was lacking a bit. After a little air time though, it really came to its own, developing towards more bramble fruits and black cherries, with more depth and a certain brooding character. Clearly that extra year in bottle was all this wine needed to fully come to its own. I’m so glad it made it here safe and sound.

Like in all things in life, taste is highly personal. But if you extract some form of pleasure from an experience that is proportional to the attention or effort you are putting into it, then you’re a winner.  This is an elegant, but most importantly, approachable wine. It didn’t require all that much effort in order to extract all its olfactory components yet the little attention I gave it rewarded me with a comparable amount of pleasure and that’s all a wine drinker should really ask for. To me, that’s the definition of a good wine, not its price point or its name. It’s a well made wine with no arrogance but a story to tell on the label and in the glass.

*Disclaimer: I became a full-time employee of Reserve Wines in May 2014. I do not believe this affects my judgement of the wine or any other wine I taste and discuss here but you are allowed to think differently. Happy to discuss.

Previously, on OfMustAndMash… #MWWC9

Wine and oliveThis blog is starting to look like an old hut in an abandoned vineyard. Shame nature cannot take over the digital world as brilliantly and fascinatingly as it does in the real world. A blog wasteland is just not as poetic nor does it have any purpose.

On the plus side however, there isn’t much tidying up to do when I come back to it. So what has happened since the last time there was any light in the cabin I hear you ask…?

Continue reading

Bruwer Raats – Family Cabernet Franc 2010

Bruwer Raats - Family CFI discovered Bruwer’s wines from South Africa about 7 months ago following the Naked Wines’ Tasting Tour back in June. I had picked up on raving reviews from some big wine guns and when I sampled his wines at the tasting it was pretty special so I bagged myself a Dolomite Cabernet Franc to start with. The Dolomite is Bruwer’s entry level and a perfect place to start in my opinion. It’s like a lighter version of the family.

Quote from my review on Naked Wines’ website at the time “one quick pointer to how good it is is how quickly we’ve downed it despite its 14% rating. It is sooo drinkable it’s like fruit juice”.

But on Valentine’s night, which we decided to spend at home with some cured meat and cheeses, it was the perfect excuse to try something a bit more special. Continue reading

Blind tasting #1

blindfolded-man

Over the last 2.5 years, through the use of this blog, twitter and other social media, my network has considerably extended. The various means of communication on offer today are mesmerising. Speaking a second language is also an enjoyable bonus as it creates even more opportunities to extend your reach.  I can communicate directly with journalists, bloggers, winemakers, wine critics….. politicians… Anyone who speaks French or English. In the Mondovino, Continue reading

Beer of the week – Siren Craft Brew Undercurrent

DSC_0058I found this little treasure in the veg drawer of my fridge when I started putting my Lancashire Hotpot together earlier. Whilst we will be trying out a Gigondas from Aldi with the hotpot, I thought “what the hell, the chef needs a beer”.

I first heard of and tasted the Siren Craft Brew ales shortly after their official launch at one of the Craft Beer Co pubs in London back in March this year. I loved their beers straight away, they were clean, flavoursome, unique and refreshing and a few more adjectives could surely be used.

Most recently I had the keg version of the Undercurrent from Brewdog in Manchester. It was crisp but malty with a good hoppy finish but I thought there was something missing.

Well I am now enjoying the bottle version and nothing is missing for sure. Even the dead yeast (is it called lees as well in the world of beer ?) is still there. It pours a hazy brown/copper and smells of orange peel and grapefruit, exotic spices and – let’s get lyrical – orange blossom. It’s bodily on the palate with some sweet oaty malts. A bitter citrus pith together with some floral notes keeps the midpalate fresh and sharp. The caramel malts make their way down softly, leaving a biscuity finish. It’s a pretty damn fine beer.

This Siren Brew Co Undercurrent bottle came from the Chorlton off-licence where you can get it for £2.50…who said craft beer was expensive?

Dog Point Vineyards Tasting

I don’t know if one should find a correlation between the Food & Drink programme on BBC 2, co-presented by Kate Goodman earlier this year, and the increasing stream of wine “celebs” who have been turning up in her little shop, Reserve Wines, in West Didsbury. Last week, Margaret and Ivan Sutherland from Dog Point Vineyards came to introduce a bunch of South Mancunians to their wares from the other side of the globe.

Dog Point Vineyards was born out of friendship and common values between James Healy the oenologist and Continue reading

#Beerbods 2: Salopian Brewery – Darwin’s Origin

DSC_0003bThis is one from the Beer Bods selection and since Thursday was Wine of the Week day, I am enjoying this beer tonight on a quiet and homely Saturday evening.

Gold, light copper, nice carbonation and a thin frothy head. An inviting sweetly spiced, honeyed aroma, grapefruit and orange peel and hints of tropical fruit. Soft and sweet malty body but a tight pithy structure from the bitter hops. Very clean citrus finish with a hint of spice.

A bitter in style, but a very flavoursome and well-crafted one. Definitely one of the best I have had recently despite IMBC (I guess I was concentrating on the bolder, lesser known styles). And at 4.3% I’d happily down a few of these if I were to find it in the local pub (there is unfortunately very little chance of it happening).

Salopian Brewery are based in Shrewsbury, Shropshire and the Darwin’s Origin has won several gold SIBA awards over the last 3 years.

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