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Sicily, a whole array of delights in your local wine shop in SW17…..Now serving 5 wines from the barrel from only £8.25 a 750ml bottle ( please bring one with you)

Mr Whirly is very excited to present you ten new wines from his recent trip to Sicily in May this year, from the small “Cantine Gulino” in Siracusa, where the boot of Sicily kicks the football of Sicily and the place where civilisation was born in 800BC, we have an abundance of grapes specific to this small wine region; then from Castelvetrano, famous for its olives as well as its vines  that are very close to Port Palo, an old destination for myself, Simon and Becky Thomas and Bob Parkinson ( Owns ” Food by Bob” in Cirencester) from a few decades ago, since it has a great beach and restaurant called ” Vittorio’s”, we have some delicious low alcohol wines that offer wonderful value for money for the 750ml bottled Vermentino and Syrah ( £11.95) as well as “Bag in Box” Cattarato and Syrah-Nero D’Avola from only £8.25 a 750ml bottle.

Pictured at the bottom of this post, the very special “Moscato de Siracusa” wines ( ” Don Nuzzo” and ” Jaraya”)  from this vineyard, grapes that are specific to Siracusa, sun dried off and on the vine and pure deliciousness in a glass, full of fresh figs and apricots but too syrupy at all, very fresh and acidic.  Then we have the ” Pretiosa” label, 100% Albanello, another grape specific to this delightful city,  this wine had really interesting palate of ripe Melon and Mediterranean sea salt and would be perfect with Scallops or some other shellfish. “Cantine Gulino” are the only producer that make the Albanello grape in a single varietal wine. Its beautifully different, therefore a great ” Whirly wine”. The Next white is ” Fania” a gorgeous Aperitif style wine, blending Fiano from Napoli and the ” King of Grapes from Sicily”, Insolia, to make a summer flower wine, perfect as an Aperitif wine. On a recent tasting tour of Scotland and Wales this wine was the most popular of the white wines we tasted. Two reds wrap up this array of wines, the ” Fanus” which is an un-oaked wine, Nero D’Avola and Syrah, very earthy and natural in its style, very much a wine that allows both grapes to express themselves as they are and the “Dru’s”, 100% Nero D’Avola, the main red grape of Sicily and again the home of  this grape is here in Siracusa; 12 Months on oak and seriously big yet refined juice. The reason why I am writing about these wines is because of this wine, tasted in London in January and now imported to the UK six months. Buy it and enjoy it. Needs a nice steak or possibly Grouse, now that they are in season.

From Castelvetrano and ” Azienda Marzuco” we have four more wines that also show themselves off in a sunset over Mendocino light, but at a price point of £8.25 and £11.95 a bottle. Their Vermentino, a grape originally from Sardinia, is a more linear and tight version of the mould found in the island a few hundreds miles north of Sicily, but with a little time once you pull the cork it really begins to open up and blossom, with honeysuckle and flowers on the palate and nose. Their Syrah is at £11.95,

another great find, since its extremely rare to find a Syrah at only 12.5% Alc vol. It has hints of white pepper spice, but the colour and taste is more like a richer Pinot Noir to be honest. It also had some lovely spiced berry fruit, cherries and blackberries and really expresses itself very brightly and happily. Then the find of all the wines at the moment in your local SW17 wine shop is the Nero D’Avola and Syrah from Cantina Gulino out of the ” Barrel”, another light wine in colour and alcohol at 12.5% alc vol, simply bright red cherries in a glass and quite the most drinkable wine you will find in London at the moment at £8.25 a bottle. Their Cattarato- Trebbiano out of the barrel is pretty damn good too, at the same price, spicy stoned fruit, clean and zingy and so easy to drink. So Whirly wine now serves 5 wines for you from the barrel at an affordable price of under £10 a bottle so please come in, taste before you buy and there are not many wine shops you can do that in, whatever city you are living in around the world, and support your local wines business. I am not in anyway expensive, no one can say that of Whirly wines and yet the quality of the wine, I can guarantee you, will far surpass anything from my supermarket friends around each corner of Ritherdon road. So come into your local wine business, support Whirly wines NOW….I need your support….


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Reduced Shop Opening Hours in August….

Due to holidays and people being away in the local area Whirly wines will be running reduced hours at the shop since I shall be away on business seeing restaurant clients in Wales and Scotland. Please note the shop hours below for the next 2-3 weeks:

3-4th August:closed

5th: Open later at 3pm

10-22 August- closed

Except for Saturday 12th when open from 3pm to 9pm & open on Sunday 20th August when then shop will open from 12-3pm.

Apologies for any inconvenience caused but if you do require wines outside of these hours please call me on 07821 968111 and I can arrange delivery of wines for a small delivery charge from my warehouse.

Mr Whirly

 

 

 

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” Greece is the Word’: new Greek wines here in SW17!

We are going back to the roots of wine showcasing some really individual indigenous varietals. They bring to Whirly wines some quality wines at very clever prices which is a much required need nowadays ( fab wines at fab prices, the Ionos white and rose are only £8.50 here in the shop, yes £8.50!). So come on down and support your local small wine importer, there’s no excuse for you now not coming in and tasting some Whirly wines. You can even taste here in the shop before you buy, how many wine shops can you do that in? I have wines at the same price point as my illustrious competitors around both corners and the quality is so much better. In fact I have always had this. I have my wines from La Bouysse in Corbiere that are Organic and Bio-dynamic and they are only £10,50 a litre which works out at about £7.60 a 750ml bottle. So come on down local residents in the Heaver Estate,  come on down to Whirly wines and support your local wine business before its too late and I am gone. I need your support!

All the wines are from the Peloponnese Peninsula west of Athens. This wine region is an old historic region for wine, the Roditis grape that is the main component of the Ionos white wine, dates back to the 1st century. It’s great to have some new wines and some unusual indigenous varietals from this country, the oldest of the old wine making countries. Varietals like Roditis, Agiorgitiko, Mavrodafni, Muscat of Patras. It’s these grapes that emphasise the importance of Wine today: up until a few months ago Mr Whirly had not tasted these grapes before and they bring something new to the palate, which happens to be a delight, especially if you have some food that you feel would match the wine as I did a few nights ago ( matching the 100% Agiorgitiko Nemea with lamb and Greek feta salad, which was a joy! The menu this week shall show a little Greek feel, so do pop in for a home- made Greek salad with tomatoes and Oregano from my garden soon won’t you, its pretty damn good!

The new wines are:

Ionos White, NV, PGI Achaia: £8.50

Ionos Rose, NV, PGI Peloponnese: £8.50

Mega Spileo, Moschato 2016, PGI Achaia: £11.95

Mega Spileo, ” 111 Cuvee” 2014, PGI Achaia: £14.70

“Nemea”, 2010, PDO Nemea, Peloponnese; £13.50

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Whirly wine Menu 23rd June- 30th June 2017…..inspired by recent wine tour of Sicily

Menu

( Lunch is served from Thursday to Sunday, midday to 3pm)

( on Saturdays I serve street food from the barbeque from midday too! Siena sausage and fish kebabs)

 

Baby Courgette soup with Basil, Parsley and Parmesan: £4.50

Caponata with toasted Ciabatta: £6.00

Sicilian Salad: £5.00

Wild rocket, radicchio and Watercress salad: £4.00

Piedmontese Peppers: £5.00

Parma ham with Charentais melon: £7.50

Vignole Bruschetta ( Peas, Broad beans, artichokes and mint): £7.50

Sardinian Artichoke, potato and parsley stew: £5.50

Vanilla rice pudding: £4.50

Polenta cake with Almonds: £5.00

Gelata and Sorbetto: £2.00

 

 

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WHIRLY WINES NOW SERVING LUNCH THURSDAY TO SUNDAY, 12-3PM as well as Ice creams from Ice cream union now back on the menu!

Following a recent trip to Sicily, written up below I was inspired by the street food in Palermo which is the best in Italy, or so they say! So from the 1st June we are serving lunch from Thursday through to Sunday and we will of course be open for Mr Whirly’s Italian inspired farmhouse menu in the early evening too.

The Menu this week!

Piedmontese Peppers: £5.00

Sicilian Pepper stew: £6.00

Caponata: £6.00

Sicilian Salad: £5.00

Napoli Salami with Capers: £7.50

Pecorino Cheese with Truffles: £7.50

All the dishes are handmade by Mr Whirly and with some great Whirly wines by the glass that start from £2.00 for a 75 ml measure of Organic and Bio Viognier or Carignan from La Bouysse in Corbiere, the same wine you can fill up your 1 litre bottle for only £10.50, it really does go to show that Whirly wines is not in anyway an expensive place to eat and drink wines that have been carefully chosen for you from the smaller producer.

I look forward to welcoming you to the Whirly wine shop soon!

 

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Whirly tour of Sicily, 11-14th May 2017

Day 1, Thursday 11th May

I love coming to this island. Its people are very different from the mainland I find. Thats all I am going to say on this front. But the island is full of passion, history and wonderful architecture too. Oh and quite old temples. I am here on this trip to find wines at that crucial £10 mark that I talk of at the end of my last tour to Croatia and Slovenia in March. So its a big trip. Will I succeed? Buono Fortuna amico mio.

First stop is Alcamo and an old friend or two. Not wines for the £10 sticker but wines that are natural and a little more expansive shall we say. Bosco Falconeria are an Organic vineyard and they now make natural wines. Yeah, here we go again, on the  ” Natural wine world trail!‘ They are located high above Alcamo in the rolling hills and to get there the drive is along a dirt track and some crazy corners. But when you get to Bosco its heavenly and tranquil, a massive contrast to the rubbish and abuse of the environment that one experiences on the S113 to get here ( this is my one gripe about Sicily I am afraid, its worse than SW16 where I live). Natalia and her family live I feel a very special life that they have created. Sadly Mary her mother is in New York, her birthplace so I missed her ( she came here in 1969 met Tony fell in love and stayed, just like that!)

We taste 2015 wines. All are almost sold out and the 2016 are not ready to taste but they will be ready for Whirly to import in September this year. First we taste the Cattarato 2015 white label. I have imported this wine before but back in 2012. Its evolved a great deal as a wine since then though. totally natural yeasts; does not stay on skin contact at all, a very little sulphite in the beginning. Natalia explains to me,

” I d0n’t like the definition of natural so much.I don’t think its the best definition. I prefer a wine that respects the grape and the terroir. What we do with the wine depends on the year.” She goes on to explain that they use bentonite, a form of clay to clean the wines, but again not every year. The wine has great depth and character, a great deal richer than all other Cattarato’s I have tasted. Next wine is the ” Peregrino” ( the yellow label below). Three days maceration on the skin. This is a red wine version of the Cattarato, but picked at the same time as the first Cattarato. ( 13% alc vol) Lastly Nero D’Avola (15% alc vol) very expressive, much more so than I can remember in the past, this is a very “bright and happy wine,” I remarked at the time. Nine months in tank, ” It’s better for the wine’ says Natalia, ” the earlier you bottle it, it will need sulphites since its not stable.” I say goodbye to Natalia and Tony and drive back down the gravel track with a happy smile on my face.

Next stop, Castelvetrano, just north east of Marsala. I know exactly where to meet Gaetano and Sebastiano and as I walk into the bar opposite McDonalds just off the the A29. They spot me and are very surprised to see me. I could not call on the way and had emailed  that morning to say could we meet earlier at 1.30pm. Gaetano could not be more different from Natalia and Tony, he is as far away from the ” Natural” set up in Alcamo as one could be removed: he’s a local farmer, hard working and eager to sell to me and he owns 42 hectares of vineyard land as well as olive groves, so a substantial area of land. We race around in Geatano’s beaten up Fiat Punto and he shows me his vineyards, on a road I have travelled many times on the road to  Porto Palo, a windy and also beaten up road, that passes across a long valley of flat farmland with a bridge of enormous proportions taking vehicles east to Agrigento and west to Marsala. Under this bridge is where I find myself in the vineyards of ” Donna de Coppa”. We then visit his olive groves and where he packages the olives and finally his bottling and winemaking plant. Its a middle sized set up, larger than most wineries I work with but in tasting the 2016 wines out a tank I am convinced they are wines that I can sell to my customers at around the £10 mark and they will be enjoyed. They are very good wines indeed. This is what Sicily can offer, some really fab wine at fab prices. We taste ” Bianco Siciliana” 2016, a blended wine of Trebbiano and Cattarato and probably some other white local grapes out of the tank, then a Vermentino 2016 out of tank, a Syrah 2016 and finally a Nero D’Avola-Syrah 2016 blend. All are bright and expressive and well made. I manage to finally get back to me car ( Gaetano wants me to stay for dinner)  and say farewell with another big smile on my face. I have achieved what I came here to do. Four hours later at 8pm I arrive in Siracusa on the east coast of Sicily, just in time for dinner. If you have never been to Siracusa go. Ortigia is the most wonderful place and as I discover over the next 2 days the birthplace of civilisation as we know it.

Day 2, Friday 12th May

I am here to meet Simona at Cantine Gulino. It turns out that the vines are just at the back of the hotel I am staying at. I meet Simona and Sabastiano Gulino, the family owner who explains to me, after a walk around the Muscato Bianco and Nero D’avola vineyards ( 7 hectares) both famous for being varietals with their origins in this area. This is the home of both grapes. The vineyard has been in the ownership of the family since about 1600 but in the 20th century with the onset of the industrial revolution, the discovery of the the natural springs  that meant vegetables were planted and vine ripped out, the vineyard site fell away and very much into disrepair. In 1995 they started to restore the buildings and its now the way it is now. They show me, high up above the floor the original vats where they would press the wines with their feet. The picture below of the arch shows the pipe in the ceiling where the juice would run free.

The first wine we taste is called ” Fania”, 60% Fiano and 40% Inzolia, from grapes in ” Contrada Burgio” near to Noto. Inzolia is a native grape to this land, the Fiano’s homes is Napoli. Inzolia is ” the king of grapes”. Simona explains,” Its very difficult not to produce a wine here without structure. The structure here is bigger.” She means that its the perfect place to grow Fiano and other grapes, the sun shines and it rains very little. The soil is limestone and very fertile. Its all about sun, weather, limestone soil. “The land here was part of the African plate “ Simona goes on. The soil is full of marine sediments full of calcium and this mountain range  is called the ” Monte Iblei”. There are three other mountain ranges in Sicily: Madonie near Palermo, Pelottaani near Messina and Etna near Catania. All four form Sicily. Back to the wine. They make 30,000 bottles of Fania, its very dry with great acidity, very citrusy. “ Wines of the African plate are full of acidity and therefore keep fresh and last for at least 3 years in the bottle”. Good news. the grapes are de-stemmed. no skin contact, pressed, 24 hours maceration then seperate tanks for 6 months. Next wine is Chardonnay 100%, the only wine I don’t like. Made for a commercial export market and not indigenous.

The third wine we taste is the Albanello 2016 a grape typical of the Siracusa wine region and SE Sicily. Cantine Gulino are the only producer of pure Albanelle in Syracusa, the wine is very different with 24 hours on their skins, very quick and notes are both sweet and savoury with a little melon. I like it. Next ” Fanus” a red wine, blend of Syrah and Nero D’Avola ( 60/40). As I taste this the swifts are flying in and out of the barn where the wines are stored. Syrah loves Sicily and Sicily loves Syrah. A grape that Alessio Planeta used to put Sicily on the wine map almost 20 years ago flourishes in this hot, dry dusty land. This wine is macerated for 2 days on the skins, then 6 months in tank before being blended. No oak. Crimson red in colour and light on the rim, 30,000 bottles made, ” simple yet delicious”. Then a wine I tasted in London in January this year, and the reason why I am here, their 2014 Nero D’Avola, 12 months on oak, dried on the vine then a small percentage under the sun. This is a big juicy Nero D’Avola, a really exciting wine that needs time and will age well with plums, rich blackberries and a little sweet spice. 6,000 bottles made, delicious. The last two wines we taste are the Moscato bianco wines from the vines on the property that we walked a few hours earlier ( see picture below). The Don Nuzzo is made by drying some of the grapes under the sun. Its a fresh wine, full of figs and dried apricots. This is indeed a special wine in Italy and Sicily as Simona explains to me. The Jaraya is lighter in colour,as you can see from the picture below. The grapes are totally dried under the sun as well as on the vine, its a great deal sweeter than the first wine and also richer and full of apricots. Supremo Quality.
In the afternoon I decide to take a wee drive over to Noto to meet Theresa who I met in London in January when she was looking after the wines from Cantine Gulino and who now runs a new Enoteca called Enoteca della strada de Vino del val Di Noto”. The business in only a few weeks old but in a great site in a lovely square off the main street running through this gloriously beautiful town. Its not as old as Siracusa, so does not have the depth of time in its architecture, nevertheless the buildings are stunning and its so very well kept indeed. Below is a picture of one of the many churches in the town.

I taste some wines from local producers picture belkow and the Organic wines from Giasira and Riofarra stand out. What I am finding is that each grape, whether its Grillo, Cattarato, Fiano, Albanello or Nero D’Avola all show themselves in a very different yet exciting way depending on the where they are grown and due to the various soils in Sicily that are part of the four different mountain regions discussed earlier. This means we have a very exiting prospect for importing wines from Sicily in the future and one could have say 4-5 Cattarato’s that all show themselves to be very different from each other.

Day 3 Saturday 13th May

A drive back to Palermo then the most splendid Passajata for 4 hours around the town, ending in dinner at my favourite restaurant, Piccolo Napoli. Street food ( Palermo possibly has the best street food in Italy) old town Palermo, The Opera house , what a joy this place is. 

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“Whirly’s gig”, 30th April 2016, 2-10pm: Book tickets online in the Voucher link at the top of the home page.

 

 

So What’s It All About?

On 30th April we kick off what I hope will be a series of summer music events here at Whirly Wines Shop, 22 Ritherdon road, Tooting. A few months ago I met Kinvara Jenkins at a wine tasting here at the shop. She was indeed a bundle of fun and during the evening I discovered she was a singer and actress. After a little chat (and a little wine) Kinvara revealed to me that she is the youngest of 7 children. She spoke about her father, Nigel, and his impressive career as a guitarist and about her mother, Marie-Eve , a music publisher. So it’s a family affair! Nigel and Kinvara will play two acoustic sessions, 45 minutes each with an interval between.

A few details…

  • Things will kick off at 2pm for a 3pm start.
  • Mr Whirly shall provide some fine wines, a lot of fun and a BBQ too!
  • Maximum tickets available: 50
  • Price: £30 Includes: 3 glasses of wine, BBQ and music! Please click on the link below to book tickets online.
  • Children are welcome as long as they are supervised. No children inside the shop for health and safety reasons.

 

 

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Wine tour of Slovenia and The Istrian Peninsula, Croatia, 23-35 March 2017

Day 1 Thursday 23rd March

After a fraught time at Marco Polo airport in Venice ( told by hire care company that the car I had booked through Car Rentals.com could not be taken out of Italy! Great! So be careful, you really do need to read the small print with car hire nowadays, they are changing their terms and conditions all the time) I grabbed another car and headed in the long curve east around to Trieste, whirled down the steep descent to this glorious city as fast as I was allowed to, stopped for a quick lunch and beer and then skipped across a little piece of Slovenia into the brown hills of the Istria where I am discovering some beautifully made wines.

Its all about one grape here really, Malvazia ( with a Z not an S here) which might sound boring but its not since they vary so much from vineyard to vineyard, but they do have one thing in common, they are dry, dry dry. Very much a style I like but i think they are very much food wines and are not in anyway like the Malvazia made just north of here in Collio in Friuli where I will be tonight.

Having ditched my Michelin map 736 that covers the whole of Slovenia down to Macedonia, so far too small a scale for Whirly’s liking, I found some lovely people in a garage who sold me a very large scale map of the Istrian peninsula ( we don’t use Sat Nav on whirly tours BTW) and a little advise we popped over a few hills to the most lovely little town called Groznjan. What a find this little town is, little cobbled streets, no cars and some more helpful people, Sasha and Tanya that were in running a wonderful hand made furniture shop as well as a cafe, who delight in telling me about their favourite little vineyards. From here I followed my fab large scale map to Momjan where Marino Markozic makes Organic wines of subtlety and finesse. I first of all tasted their RE Brut sparkling wine, made from a assemblage of 80% Malvasia, 10% Pinot  Noir and 10% Chardonnay. Bone dry, 6 grams of sugar, dried and candied stone fruit, but unlike anything I had tasted before. Next was a 100% Malvazia, so so dry, exquisite, refined, great strength. 100% steel fermentation, 2015, again stunning quality: dried, candied lemon peel, bitter fruits, needs food.

There were no reds made in 2015 due to lack of rain, so I could not taste the locally grown Teran grape which is a shame. The last wine I tasted was their Muscat Momjanski 2015, a great here only find here in Momjan, hence the name. Intense orange peel and zest on the nose, so intense with a little spice and kumquat. Again refined and so well made, 13.5% alc vol, quite spicy and punchy. I am heading back there this morning to try to taste the Teran out of the tank, 2016 with the owner since he’s back at the helm today.

Last night was spent in the coastal town of Umag at a wine restaurant called It Istria, run by 7 winemakers of the region. Top wines again tasted, the highlight for me was the wines from Coronica, both the Malvazia and Teran were poured from a newly opened magnum, right up Whirly’s straza and they were mind blowingly gorgeous. So you will forgive me I have to whirl and email Moreno form Coronica, Marino from Kabola and make tracks. I have to be in Slovenia soon after lunch so the map is going to come in great use for short cuts. Break a leg whirly and over and out! More soon, pictures to follow!

Day 2…Friday 24th March

Big day ahead, tastings planned in three countries, Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. After the wonders of Coronica last night I found the little village of Koreniki just south of Umag on my “very large scale map” and off I went at 8.30am to find the first of many vineyards today. In a little village with a circle of olives trees and perfectly manicured grass in the  foreground, I found the HQ of Coronica and Eva who went through the wines with me. I had already tasted their Malvasia 2015 which was more aromatic than other samples tasted so far as well as their ” Gran Teran 2012″ which was superb. Eva explained, the Gran Teran is two years on oak and has only just been released; it takes 4 years to get it ready for the market and is only produced in certain years. In 2014 there was too much rain and not enough sun, which is difficult to comprehend yes, so none was made. The 2015 Malvazia is finished here in the tasting room and I tasted the new 2016 which was good but not as rich as the 2015, I would imagine it needs some more time in bottle. Mareno is the third generation winemaker, his father started making modern technology winemaking in 1990 ( which means bottling of the wines). I also tasted here their ” Gran Malvazia 2015″ which has 1 year on the yeast and a few months on oak. I prefer this style of Malvazia, the oak helps open the wine up and since we are only 3000 metres from the sea here, there is a different feel to the wines from their terroir with a little salt at the end of the wine. “ We plough the field and scatter, the good seed of the land” is what sprung to mind this morning as I drove through the small patches of vineyards here and saw the red soil that had been newly ploughed up, incredibly rich in minerals.

On the way back to Umag I stopped at a little village on the coast and watched a sailing boat motor in and anchor. The apple blossom was was out on a tree and the bee’s and hornets were buzzing around it, the smell of the Adriatic combined with the blossom was evocative and joyful. I quick drive north to the corner of the peninsula to Savudrija and Degrassi proved fruitless since they were shut so I followed my large map back to Kabola and managed to meet Marino the owner very quickly, who is a winemaker of repute ( Kabola is the only Organic vineyard here in Croatian Istria) as well a truffle hunter too! Truffles! We love truffles. It was on the way back to Groznjan to say thank you to Sasha & Tanya for their help that I once again saw this old man tending two rows of vines in a village called Marusici. I asked to take a photo and this was the result: I am not holding a gun up to him don’t worry, just my i phone but the result is the same! What a lovely man, a lovely face and  notice, from his trousers at the back he has the cuttings of the vines hanging that he is pruning. Next stop the crazy Rojac from just across the border in Slovenia making stunning natural wines. Yes you heard it, the penny has dropped, Deeee- dunngg! Mr Whirly’s view on this style of wine has been changed forever.

Uros asked me to call him when I reached the first roundabout after the the Croatian border crossing. But I ignored this and almost found his vineyard myself until he whizzed around the corner on his scrambler motorbike. Yes I would say Uros lives life to the full was the first impression that he made on me. On the you tube video is the first wine we tasted, click on it and have a look please, its pretty exciting stuff, hand disgorging of his ” Moia” wine, ” Mine” into an ice bucket full of water, oh the theatre and excitement of wine and winemakers! He says to me as we taste the fizzy, frisky pink juice, “ I want sincerity, I want the grape variety, I want the terroir.” This wine showed me that winemaking this way can be exciting, fresh and vibrant and simply enjoyable to drink not something I have come across before with most natural wines. Next up was a 2016 Malvazia, selected yeasts and a delight! No label. I want it. Next a 2013 Orange wine, all about maceration here, indigenous yeast so that means natural from the skin like in Roman times man! Next, we are moving from one wine to the next in rapid succession, Malvazia Letnik 2013, 60 days skin contact, 2.5 years in oak, big barrels, completely bio-dynamic wine, old style.Then some Refosk: re means king, fosk means something dark. This is a very old grape from these parts. We taste a 2014 Refosk and even though there was a great deal of rain at the wrong time ( September) Uros has still managed to make a great wine, a very puristic wine. Next a Ronero 2016 out of tank; Max Ro-Nero! This is a big story wine: the grapes are dried naturally on the plant, picked at 8 gms of sugar, slightly sweet but delicious and it then spends 5 years in the bottle before being released to be drunk. As I drove Uros down the hill and dropped him off at that first roundabout and drove north to the Italian border, it struck me that I had just witnessed a man in his complete entity. Here was someone making his own style of wines, in a far flung country not recognised by the mass wine market but in a state of complete happiness. The penny had dropped for him and for Whirly.

From here I headed to find Martin in a wine region of Slovenia called ‘ Kras”, a limestone plateau just to the east of Trieste. I had been here before and loved their salami which they make themselves from their own “sounder of swine.” However it was very much  a case of following my nose since my large scale Croatian map had run out at the border and the sat nav is not a thing we use on a Whirly tour as you already know. So it took me an hour or so to find  ( ok 2 hours) but the fun I had completing this journey was immense. In order for me to find the vineyard I had to stop in a little country town to ask directions called Trebiciano to ask directions to Sezana just across the border. A stop entailed a little expresso and a bombolino ( ok two) at a cafe and a chat to a local gentleman who pointed me in the right direction. After a Graci and a farewell I thought this would not have happened if I had been using a SN and I would have simply driven to the ” Ostirjeva Kmetija” without any interaction with the locals. By the time I reached the salami place just east of Dutovjle the sun was setting and I had still a tasting or three to finish. Martin showed me some of his wines I chomped gleefully through his salami that is daughter, who is still at school but was running the shop very efficiently, had carefully cut and laid out for us. His wines are honest wine and made in a lovely simple and old school way. I would import them, in fact they are the perfect wines for me since they would be at the right price and I would be able to sell them under the vital £10 mark. But lets see how we get on with his salami for the shop shall we!? Martin  is keen for me to taste some wines at another natural vineyard back in Dutovjle so he drives be back to Rencel, a vineyard that started in 1986. It is here that I am told that this area his the home of Teran ( another name for the refosco grape) and that Martin has indeed gone to Brussels to fight the Croatians who have stole the name for their wines. Josko Rencel, the owner makes wine in very small amounts, 500 or 1000 bottle parcels so he’s pretty damn tiny. His wines, like Rojac are not ” inexpensive” either but the quality cannot be denied.

Its all about Teran here as I have already explained. First off is the ” Kras Carso” 2013, natural yeast, only 1000 bottles made 75% Teran. Then a Pinot noir 2009, macerated for 8 days and then 5 years in barrel. Serious wine. 800 bottles made. Vincent 2013: Sauvignon, Malvazia and Chardonnay. Next the local grape. ” Vitovska Grganja”, ” Orange wine”, different process of maceration which is basically the opposite to rose wine which is creating a rose style wine from red grapes, goo but not me. Then a Sauvignon blanc 2012, malolactic, 3 days of maceration, yellow Sauvignon! Then a Cuvee 2009 Orange wine, same blend as above, no sulphites, 5 years in oak: ” Cameroe” 2003, 16.5% alc vol ( variation of Amarone, dried grapes): Negra 2006, Teran 2006, 6 months of drying the grapes, amazing wine: ” Malvazia 2003″ sweet wine, 6 days drying, 8 years in barrel 100% Malvazia….at this point given that it was now 8 pm and I still had to drive 1 hour without a sat nav my mind began to wander and my notes did not cover the reaming two wines. What I can say is that yet again my thoughts and feelings on Natural wines have been transformed: they can be fresh and enjoyable so drink.

In Friuli the next day after a late night drive to Cormons I tasted some really young but exciting wines from Buzzinelli.What was to me extraordinary was the fact that these wines were half the price of some of the wines I tasted on my last two day trip  but also only half as good, in my humble opinion. What have `I learnt from this trip? The wines from the smaller producer, in general, are increasingly difficult to find for that £10 bottle and that I will have to find these wines in future from slightly larger producers. Sad but true.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Wine tasting, Thursday 2nd March: “The Aussies are back in town”: Showcasing Top producers wines from Tasmania, McLaren vale and The Great Southern

Just before Christmas I imported some delights from Tasmania, McLaren Vale and The Great Southern in Western Australia. Stefano Lubiana makes some of the most sublime wines down under, let alone Tasmania, “The Apple Isle”. His Primavera wines are a pure delight and that night we will kick off with the Chardonnay 2014 and follow it with the Pinot Noir 2014. To follow we will then taste two Shiraz’s one from ” 3 drops” in Mount Barker, way down south of Perth not far from Cape Leeuwin where the Southern ocean meets the Indian: followed by a Brick Kiln Shiraz from McLaren Vale south of Adelaide in South Australia where I picked grapes for a $ a bucket in March 2000! We these last two wines we shall have some theatre and  use the Ifawine air system to emphasise the importance of air before drinking bigger heavier reds.

7.0opm to 9.00pm: £30 for four 75ml measures plus snacks. Please book by emailing simon@whirlywine.co.uk. A minimum of 10 people and maximum of 20 for the event will apply. Payment must be taken before the event.