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June 2008

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 classics.

Do pop in to the Cellar tomorrow (Sat) to taste the new Gavi as well as to remind yourself how good Mario's Barbera is.

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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:

http://www.quaypress.com/winefood/devonkitchen/topshamfoodfestival2.html

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:

http://www.quaypress.com/winefood/devonkitchen/nelloslongesttable.html

Kim's gallery of photographs from the weekend are now up on the Topsham Food Festival web site:

http://www.topshamfoodfestival.org.uk/images/tffalbum/index.htm

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.

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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.

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Triple whammy
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.

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Good luck to everyone riding the Force Century Cycle Challenge this Sunday. And remember afterwards to rehydrate thoroughly!

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Hope to 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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