Wine column for week of September 2

Some of the most pleasant wine discoveries can be found on the lists of small suburban restaurants, or are the result of drinks supplied by friends at bring-your-own meals.
Such was the case at an Italian restaurant I encountered on arrival in London’s Finsbury Park, and a Vietnamese noodle shop in Hong Kong just before I left that city for London.
The Italian restaurant, which opened a month ago, is called Osteria Tufo. The food there is excellent and the owners have chosen a simple wine menu that focuses on lesser-known parts of Italy.
The noodle shop is known as Madame C in Wanchai in Hong Kong. It is not licensed but happy for regular customers to bring bottles.
Though several thousand kilometres apart, the restaurants share their family-owned origins and an appreciation of the need to focus on good service as well as food.
German white wines pair superbly with spicy Asian food, and are much more appropriate than heavy Bordeaux-style reds. A brace of German delights joined us for the noodle lunch in Wanchai.
The 2011 Schafer-Fröhlich Felseneck riesling was a delightful combination with lightly fried food like spring rolls. It was a spatlese style, meaning it brims with bright acidity and sweet fruit.
This wine represents an example of winemaker Tim Fröhlich’s magic touch. Its structure is majestic, and it exudes a feeling of precision and clarity. His wines are so refined they could almost be described as chiseled.
The low alcohol, at 7.5 per cent, means two people can drink an entire bottle and not feel sleepy after lunch. Indeed, this wine was so lovely that my companion, Ali Nicol of WineTimesHK, and I decided we should have more wine to accompany out pho (Vietnamese noodles to the uninitiated).
The second was a 2010 Kruger-Rumpf spatburgunder, a red made from the pinot noir grape. It offers aromas of sour cherries and a similar light red colour, with zingy acidity combining nicely with the fruit flavours. The alcohol, at 13.5 per cent, was a little high so we did not finish the entire bottle at lunch. But it was worth saving for later in the evening, by which time the acids had softened. In all a most pleasant and lovely wine.
The final wine for this column was chosen for dinner at the Italian restaurant. The 2008 Villa Albergotti chianti riserva was ripe and rich and matched perfectly with a hearty meat-based pasta. It is a blend of sangiovese, cannaiolo and merlot.
The Albergotti family are aristocrats in the Aretino region of Italy. One of the descendents, Dr Enrico Albergotti, holds the title of barone (baron) and is the proprietor of vineyards in Ceciliano, a hilly zone in the community of Arezzo.
The barone has been the president of the Provincial Union of Agriculture for the past quarter century. His vineyard uses the latest and most technically advanced fermentation and maceration methods to extract the most flavour from grapes.
Maceration is the process by which red wine receives its red colour. Tannins and flavour compounds are leached from the grape skins, seeds and stems into the must, or grape juice.
Micro oxygenation is used during the maceration process. Tiny amounts of oxygen are injected through the wine, usually via a porous ceramic stone in the barrel or tank. The grape juice spends a longer time on the skins and this enhances the flavours and structure of the wine. It also helps to soften the wine and make it feel “rounder” in the mouth.
This was the case with this chianti. It was soft and supple and offered aromas of black fruits and dried herbs that loved the meat in the pasta.
The message here is to enjoy what our friends bring to share with us at bring-your-own restaurants. And occasionally surprise our friends with our favourites.
* Published at WinesTimesHK 2 September 2013. Find a link here.

Categories: Not home, wine

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