New wines from Cascina Fontana
I hope that many of you had the opportunity to meet Mario and Luisa
Fontana and their young family when they were over with us for
the Topsham Food Festival. Mario has been coming to Topsham
now for some 16 years or so, originally to deliver his wonderful
Barbera d'Alba and Barolo wines to Nello's Ristorante. Over
the years, he and Luisa have returned often to be with us for
important moments such as the Nello Century Cycle Challenge
(now the Force Century Cycle Challenge - taking place this
Sunday - hope to see you there); our Festa di San Martino which
we have held at the Michael Caines Restaurant; and now for
the first Topsham Food Festival. It's not going too far to
say that they have become not only part of our family, but
also Topsham honorary locals, and our town clearly means as
much to them as they do to us.
It is wonderful to have this direct and vital connection.
Just this week, we received our latest shipment of Cascina Fontana
wines, packed up by Mario and sent to us direct from his vineyards
in the Barolo wine hills of Piedmont.
Mario's newly bottled Gavi 2007 is stunning, a modern,
clean dry white with incredible freshness and that lingering, minerally
finish that is the hallmark of genuine Gavi. We've stocked up,
too, on our most popular wines, the most recent bottlings of Mario's
Dolcetto d'Alba 2006 and Barbera d'Alba 2005, as well as Barolo
2003, which continues to fly out of Geoff's Pebblebed Tasting Cellar.
Mario is delighted and proud to have his Cascina Fontana Barolo
served by the glass there.
For lovers of Nebbiolo wines, I have a tiny, very
limited amount of a new wine that you won't have seen before, Cascina
Fontana Barbaresco 2004 - still young, deeply muscular and rich
in tannin, and a fascinating addition to Mario's stable of Nebbiolo
Do pop in to the Cellar tomorrow (Sat) to taste the
new Gavi as well as to remind yourself how good Mario's Barbera
Topsham Food Festival
What a wonderful triumph this whole weekend was. Thanks to all
who helped and were involved in any way. It was a brilliant demonstration
of the strength and vitality of our community. And it demonstrates,
too, the strength and depth of food and drink in our town, and
the many talented and committed individuals who are producing
such good things to eat and drink. We are very fortunate indeed.
Here's my report on the Topsham Food Festival:
Nello's Longest Table was a particularly special
part of the weekend. I hope you experienced this amazing evening
- for those who somehow missed it must "think themselves accurs'd
they were not here". It's
hardly possible to convey in words the atmosphere of that magical
occasion, but here's my attempt:
Kim's gallery of photographs from the weekend are
now up on the Topsham Food Festival web site:
Everyone keeps asking us whether the Topsham Food
Festival will happen again. For the moment, no decisions have yet
been made, but such is the interest and demand that it looks fairly
likely that something will have to take place again next year.
So watch this space.
Pebblebed Tasting Cellar
I hope by now you may have visited Geoff's Pebblebed Tasting Cellar,
managed by Freddie Dudbridge, leader of Slow Food Devon and co-organiser
with us of the Slow Food Devon Topsham Market. Geoff's aim has
been to recreate something of the atmosphere of those rustic
wine cantinas that he encountered on his travels in Italy. I
think he succeeds brilliantly, combining Pebblebed's working
cellar with a simple venue where friends can gather to enjoy
Pebblebed and Vino wines, as well as guest examples from Topsham
Wines, by the glass or bottle accompanied by simple cold tasting
platters and drinking snacks. There is nothing quite like the
Pebblebed Tasting Cellar anywhere else in England. Do drop in
for a glass and a chat. You'll be very comfortable and at home,
I'm sure. The tasting cellar is open evenings from 5.30-8.30pm
and from noon until evening at weekends.
Time for a little moan. It's not easy being a very small wine importer.
What with the triple whammy of the horrid euro/pound exchange
rate, a 14 pence per bottle hike in excise duties, and increased
transport costs due to fuel surcharges, our already slim margins
have been quickly whittled away, even with inevitable slight
price increases. However, I strongly believe in the wines that
we bring in, in producers like Mario who are more than friends,
and I believe in the continuity of such strong relationships
that will weather these unpredictable summer tempests. Our wines
are special wines, honest and genuine expressions of the land,
the terroir, from which they come, wines that are rich in flavour
and character and personality. It is not easy to bring these
wines to you direct from the vineyard. I hope you will continue
to enjoy them for this is what makes it all worthwhile. Thanks
again for your support.
Good luck to everyone riding the Force Century Cycle
Challenge this Sunday. And remember afterwards to rehydrate thoroughly!
Hope to see you soon.
Marc and Kim