a community of wine lovers


November 2011


As I write this, the rain is lashing on my window and the wind is howling: proper November weather! Well, let it howl. This is the time of year to light wood fires, put a slow braise in the oven (see stracotto recipe below), and open some deliciously warming wines for winter.

The grapes have all been harvested, the wines are safely in the cellar, slowly fermenting away, undergoing the annual miraculous transformation from juice to wine. Geoff is satisfied with this year's Pebblebed harvest and Mario in Barolo is equally confident that 2011's wines will bring pleasure to us in years to come.

I will be in the Pebblebed Cellar on most Saturdays in November and December offering wines for tasting and sales. And we look forward to seeing old and new friends at our next Vino Kitchen Italian Table evenings and at the Festive Indulgence evening at Darts Farm.

For those who love these special wines, there will be a Cascina Fontana Nebbiolo and Barolo vertical wine tasting with a steak dinner at Route 2 on Friday December 2nd. This is limited in number, so if you’d like to join us, please email me as soon as possible (details below).


Vino Kitchen Italian Table dates for November and December

Our last two Vino Kitchen Italian Table evenings for 2011 will take place on Wed November 23rd and Wed December 14th. We’ve had some great evenings of food, wine and friendship over the past year and I hope that all of those who have come along have enjoyed the very special wine cellar ambience of Geoff and Anna’s Pebblebed Tasting Cellar.

Our November evening will be a “Menu for Autumn” - price for 3-course meal is £15 for current Club Vino members and £18.50 for non-members.

In December we will once again have a special “Festive Italian Table” - price £20 for CV members or £25 for non-members.

For more information about our evenings, see www.vino.co.uk/vinokitchen.html

To reserve, telephone Marc or Kim on 01392 873778 or email marc@vino.co.uk

We look forward to seeing you!


Tastings in the Pebblebed Cellar

Over the coming Saturdays, I’ll be setting up in the Pebblebed Cellar from 11am until 1pm for tastings and sales of our range of wines. Our excellent Madregale house wines from Abruzzo start at £6.99 (Club Vino price, £6.65 per mixed case price). In the lead up to Christmas we’ll also be opening for tasting some very special wines such as Langhe Nebbiolo and Barolo.

If Saturdays are not a convenient time to visit, please email marc@vino.co.uk to arrange a suitable alternative time. We deliver locally.


Harvest report

Geoff has recently sent out a Pebblebed harvest report. His verdict is that 2011 will prove to be a year of excellent quality but rather low quantity. The red grapes looked particularly promising and I am really looking forward to trying the Pebblebed Pinot Noir/Rondo blend sometime in the coming year. With new vineyard plantings through the Pebblebed Partnership Vineyard and a new winery to come in 2012, these are clearly exciting times for Geoff and Anna!

Turning to Italy, Mario Fontana is quietly confident that 2011 will be an excellent vintage for Dolcetto, Barbera, Nebbiolo and Barolo. The year started with early flowering and a very hot, dry summer which meant the grapes were much more forward than normal. However, some judicious rains at critical moments in August and September helped to balance things out and Mario is confident that the wines will be particularly rich and forward. The earliest of Mario’s 2011s will be the Dolcetto, released to us in about 12-18 months. We look forward to enjoying Barbera 2011 sometime in late 2013. Mario’s wines always benefit from ageing to reach their optimum drinking. Fortunately we have a selection of current and mature vintages of his full range wines in the Vino cellar which are drinking beautifully now.

You can keep up to date with Mario’s latest news from the wine country here:



Nebbiolo, Barolo and Steak Night with Vino @ Route 2 - Friday Dec 2nd

We’ve been promising to have a definitive Cascina Fontana Langhe Nebbiolo and Barolo vertical tasting with a steak dinner cooked by Liz Hodge’s excellent chef James Clark. This will now take place on Friday December 2nd in the Route 2 Cafe Bar in Topsham. This will be a great opportunity to taste different vintages of Nebbiolo and Barolo and to discover how these truly great wines evolve and mature with age. The tasting will be limited in number to no more than 12. Cost is £20 for wine tasting for current Club Vino members or £25 for non-members and £15 for the steak dinner (payable to Route 2). Please book with me as soon as possible if you’d like to attend.


Vino @ Darts Farm

We are delighted that Mario’s Cascina Fontana wines are available at Darts Farm and we look forward to the Festive Indulgence evening on December 7th. There will be so many good things to sample and enjoy on the evening; please come along - we'll be there offering tastings of Barbera and Moscato ‘Dorato’. Darts Farm also have an exclusive but limited amount of Cascina Fontana Barbera d’Alba in magnums from the exceptional 2003 vintage as well as magnums of Cascina Fontana Barolo (the ultimate Christmas gift!).


Stracotto al Chianti
A warming recipe that is perfect for autumn weather (we served this at last month’s Vino Kitchen Italian Table)
Serves 8

2kg stewing beef cut into cubes (use shin from Arthurs or top rib from Gerald David)
2 large onions, peeled and chopped
3 sticks of celery, cut into pieces
4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 bulb fennel, chopped
2 tbs fennel seeds
1 tsp crushed chilli
Large bunch of fresh thyme
4 cloves of garlic, smashed and chopped
Olive oil
1 bottle of Badia di Morrona I Sodi del Paretaio Chianti 2008
Salt, freshly ground black pepper
750g button mushrooms

Place the trimmed and cubed beef in a large roasting bag. Add all the ingredients except the mushrooms. Tie securely and place in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours or preferably overnight. Remove and place in a large casserole. Put in a pre-heated 120 deg C oven and slow-braise for 6-8 hours or until the meat is tender and almost falling apart. An hour before serving, fry the mushrooms in a little olive oil to release their liquid, then add to the casserole.

Serve with polenta or mash potatoes and braised cavolo nero.

Suggested wine: Badia di Morrona I Sodi del Paretaio Chianti 2008


Marc and Kim




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