a community of wine lovers


December 2006

The Wine Cellar, Ferry Road, Topsham open 10.30-1pm Saturdays

Pebblebed white and rosé

Sparkling wines for the holidays: Prosecco and Champagne!

Great reds for Christmas: Nebbiolo and Rosso di Montalcino
(plus any other Vino wines that Mark Lane* and Geoff feel like opening for tasting)


Christmas and New Year's Vino opening

Vino @ The Wine Cellar is open usual hours over the next two Saturdays before Christmas. I will be here first thing this Saturday (until about 11am), then Mark Lane* and Geoff will be looking after the Vino side of the Wine Cellar (Italian wines, Champagne and wine gifts) for the rest of the morning as well as Saturday the 23rd.

If you have any special requests, or would like to pick up wines outside of these hours, can you either make arrangements with me before this Saturday, or else, during the week of Dec 16-23, please email Geoff geoff@vino.co.uk or telephone him on 01392 875908.
I will be back on the afternoon of Sat Dec 23 and am very happy to make any local deliveries on Christmas eve. Vino @ The Wine Cellar will of course be open on Saturday 30 December and also possibly the 31st for collection of wines for New Year's Eve celebrations.

*Mark Lane, who is looking after Vino this week, is a good friend, a former Senior Wine Taster at the prestigious International Wine Challenge, a wine columnist for magazines such as Wine Magazine, an intelligent wine educator and spirited wine entertainer. In the real world, he is currently Project Manager of Devon's £1.2m Discover Devon Naturally Sustainable Tourism Project. Mark has been a big supporter of Vino; I value his judgements on wine and really appreciate him giving up his time to help me out this week. Please drop in, meet Mark and taste some wines with him. He's good fun!


Pebblebed update
Pebblebed rose 2005 is now completely sold out and remaining stocks of Pebblebed white 2005 are very low - so if you'd like to have everyone's favourite award-winning Devon wine in for Christmas drinking, please contact Geoff as soon as possible or make your way to the Wine Cellar this Saturday.

Geoff reports that the new vintage Pebblebed 2006 wines - rose, white and, yes, even some red - are already tasting well! The rose and white will be available from April 2007. The red will spend some time in French oak before release, while the Pebblebed sparkling will not be released before 2008.

Winter pruning has already begun so if you would like to assist Geoff, then please contact him. A future Club Vino/Friends of Pebblebed event: a spot of winter pruning followed by a lunch of steaks cooked 'aux sarments' - over a fire of vineshoots!


Sparkling sparklers
Prosecco Bisol 'Jeio' n/v (CV £8.99) and Champagne Rene Geoffroy Cuvee Empreinte n/v (CV £18.75) are two utterly different sparkling wines. Drop in and sample them over the next Saturdays and you will immediately understand what they are both about.
Prosecco Bisol 'Jeio' is all soft, creamy, green apple fruit, a beautiful wine that is just so easy to drink, any time of day or night (the perfect breakfast wine?). Moreover, it's a sparkler that is not trying in any way to be a Champagne. Everyone who tastes it absolutely loves it!

When you sample our Champagne Rene Geoffroy alongside, by contrast, you are immediately aware of a wine that is richer, more complex and mature (80% Pinot Noir/20% Chardonnay fermented in part in wood), with fine persistent bubbles, long, concentrated, a very classy and elegant wine indeed. This is a great example of why Champagne still deserves to be considered the finest sparkling wine in the world.
Incidentally, in addition to both the Prosecco 'Jeio' and Champagne Rene Geoffroy 'Cuvee Empreinte', we also offer two deluxe bottles from these same producers. Prosecco Bisol 'Crede' costs a couple of quid more than 'Jeio' but at £10.99 is still excellent value for such a classy wine, firmer, more citrussy, with a longer finish. Rene Geoffroy's top Champagne is 'Cuvee Volupte', a special deluxe cuvee wine produced from 80% Chardonnay/20% Pinot Noir, fermented and aged in wood for a longer period, with deep, biscuity, flavours combined with marvellous lightness and finesse. At £24.90, it's not cheap, but it is a very special Champagne to enjoy on special occasions.

Size matters
Both Prosecco Bisol 'Crede' and Champagne Rene Geoffroy 'Cuvee Empreinte' are available in magnum. Big bottles are a great way to kick off a special celebration or holiday meal, so 'go large'!


House and party wines
Our new house Vino wines have been flying out of the Wine Cellar, I'm happy to report. Our Statua white from Sicily, and our Casa Castel del Monte rosato and red from Puglia are good examples of southern Italian wines that display regional character and attitude at an everyday price (CV £4.75 case bottle price). These screwtop house wines may not claim to be wines to write home or books about, however they are nonetheless ridiculously easy to open and quaff - enjoyable as well as useful to have on hand when unexpected guests drop in, for parties, and for easy everyday drinking.


Last orders, please! Christmas Vino gifts
Our Vino wine gift boxes are presents that anyone will enjoy receiving (and giving, provided recipient shares with you). If you are looking for a special present, why not treat someone to a bottle of Mario's Barolo 2002 with a special plain glass Italian decanter? Or how about our 'Olive oil sampler' which includes a bottle each of our stunning single estate oils from Le Marche and Tuscany. Or any of our suggested wine selections, or a bespoke gift box made up with your favourites. It would be helpful to have your orders in advance so that we can prepare your boxes for pick up from The Wine Cellar. Alternatively, I am happy to deliver anywhere around Topsham on Christmas eve.

Vino holiday gift boxes


Club Vino events in 2007
Following our very successful Club Vino Christmas tasting and party at The Globe (the pasta and risotti were brilliant, Liz!), we are looking in 2007 to put in place a series of regular Club Vino tastings in association with the Globe, provided there is sufficient interest (15-20 is the ideal number, we've found). The format will normally be a themed wine tasting (topics include 'An introduction to wine tasting', 'Nebbiolo masterclass', 'Great grapes from around the world', 'Italian wines: a journey in a bottle' and other topics and wines that you would like to taste and discover) followed by either a simple buffet of local cheeses and breads, or occasionally a full meal to make an evening of it. Cost will depend on wines and food, but we'll aim normally for somewhere between £15-25 per person for Club Vino members. If you are interested in joining us, please email to register your interest.


Kim's panforte di Siena
It's hard to find the time these days to homebake Christmas treats and gifts. However, if you're looking to make something a little different this year, then do have a go at Kim's version of the famous panforte di Siena. This nutty, chewy, utterly delicious honey-and-spiced Tuscan speciality is just the sort of thing to have around during the holiday season. Once baked and dusted with powdered sugar, wrap in foil, then in cellophane with a pretty ribbon to make a really lovely food gift. The recipe comes from our first book 'The Wine and Food of Europe'.

100 g shelled almonds
100 g shelled hazelnuts
50 g plain flour
25 g cocoa
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
Generous grating of fresh nutmeg
100 g honey
4 tbsp sugar
250 g candied fruit, finely chopped
2 tbsp grated orange rind
2 tbsp grated lemon rind
Juice of 1 lemon
Icing sugar

Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees C. Put almonds and hazelnuts in a greased shallow pan, and bake until toasted about 20 minutes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, sift flour together with the cocoa, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Mix well. Put honey and sugar in a saucepan and cook over a low heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and mix into the flour mixture. Then add the candied fruit, orange and lemon rind and juice, and toasted nuts, stirring to combine everything together well. It should be quite a stiff mixture. Add a little more juice if too stiff.

Grease a round baking tin and turn the mixture into it. Bake in a slow oven, 140 degrees C, until it is firm, about 50-60 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn out, and sprinkle liberally with icing sugar.

Suggested wine: Cascina Fontana Moscato del Piemonte


Happy holidays to all and see you soon!

Marc and Kim


Copyright Marc Millon 2005-2009 All rights reserved
Images copyright Kim Millon 2005-2009 All rights reserved

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