What we are drinking now

I have been wanting to talk about wine on my blog, with the help of my sommelier husband, Marco Lami, and now, off the back of our very successful White Truffle and Wine Retreat a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d share some of the wines we enjoyed that Marco chose for us.

“My idea [during the retreat] was to give another perspective of Tuscan wine,” Marco told me, “Tuscan whites tend to be fairly neutral. Trebbiano for example is a neutral grape which is why it’s usually blended with Malvasia, an aromatic varietal. But measured use of macerating on the skins is a way to bring out the character of the wine.”

If you macerate a white grape long enough, allowing skin contact (and therefore colour extraction from the skins), you’ll end up with a so-called “orange wine”, with varying degrees of orange-ness — a white wine made like a red. Marco prefers to call them macerated whites, than “orange” (I have written more about Tuscan macerates whites for Life & Thyme here).

One of such wines that we love is Castello dei Rampolla’s Trebianco. This beautiful, historic winery, located in Panzano in Chianti in the heart of Chianti Classico, was one of the first to experiment with international grape varietals, especially for their reds, and has been biodynamic for the past twenty years. Their ‘Trebianco’ is made with Chardonnay, Traminer, Sauvignon Blanc and Malvasia grapes that are fermented, skins on, in terracotta amphorae for 10 days, before being aged in the amphorae a further year  — something that gives the wine a savouriness and softens the tannins, “It makes it a really versatile wine,” says Marco, who pairs it with, “Honestly, anything! You can drink it like a red wine, pairing it with cheese, liver, pork or veal, roast fish.” We drank it during the retreat with a hearty dish of handmade egg yolk and ricotta ravioli covered in melted butter, parmesan and white truffles.

The Chianti Classico “Bucciarelli” sangiovese is one we like as a table wine — an every day but elegant wine. We served it together with pizza cooked in the woodfired oven after a particularly wet day out exploring the Chianti Classico region (below, in all its autumnal glory!). It’s a typical Chianti Classico, that is, savoury on the palate, notes of sour cherry, bright acidity and good tannins. It would also go really well with a bistecca alla fiorentina – or any steak really. This producer, Antico Podere Casanova, is organic and is based in Castellina in Chianti, where they also run an agriturismo).

The dessert wine is produced by Paterna, who make also a delicious white, a combination of white Malvasia, Trebbiano and Orpicchio, an almost extinct indigenous Tuscan varietal, partially fermented with skins (we drank them all before I could get a photo of the bottle!). They are based in Terranuova Bracciolini, which is a 15 minute drive from where we were based for the retreat near Montevarchi so it was nice to have an extremely local wine to taste. Paterna are a Cooperative, a winery and a farm, organic since their beginnings in 1982. Their vin santo (pictured here) is a classic Tuscan dessert wine made with Malvasia and Trebbiano grapes that are picked in September and hung to dry for a few months until they become sugar-concentrated raisins (the photograph below is from another winery we love and visit during the retreat, Cosimo Maria Masini, of their San Colombano grapes drying for vin santo), then pressed, fermented and left to age in small Tuscan barrels called caratelli for 3-4 years. “It’s rather like a sweet sherry in that it has oxidative notes, since the caratelli are entirely sealed and they don’t get topped up,” says Marco. I ask him to explain what this means and he adds, “Over the years there is evaporation and therefore there is oxygen in the caratelli that gives nutty, sherry-like notes to the vin santo.”

Of course the classic pairing of vin santo is with biscotti (almond cantuccini). But this is so delicious that Marco prefers to pair it with something more important than humble biscotti: chicken liver, black or white truffles, a cheese platter, chestnut desserts like castagnaccio, pillow soft Sienese ricciarelli biscuits and spicy panforte. Basically, it’s perfect for the festive season.

I hope you like this little snippet of a few wines we love, I’m thinking to make it more of a regular thing — what do you think?

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Comments

  1. Katy says:

    Yes! Please make this a regular thing 🙂

  2. Mit says:

    Yes! I love the idea of you adding “what we’re drinking!” to your site. It’ll allow us to increase our knowledge of Italian wines – and also encourage me to add a bottle here and there to my cart.

  3. Gary Francis says:

    We stumbled upon Castello dei Rampolla a few years ago. Knew nothing about it and I agree – the Trebianco is excellent. One of our favourite wineries to go back to.
    Love the blog.

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