a community of wine lovers


September 2009


Autumn, it's my favourite time of year. Perhaps it's because this is the moment when the grapes start to come in: the end of another year's labour, the start of a new year of wine as the old year passes by. Critical days and weeks lie ahead, and warm autumn sunshine is required to bring the grapes to their full ripeness. Fingers crossed, then, for Geoff, Mario, Giuditta and all our other friends in the wine country, who work so tirelessly to grow and transform fresh grapes into something quite wonderful and magical: wine.

The Vino Kitchen
Thanks to all who have come along for our Italian Table evenings over the past months. These have been really fun occasions, with everyone sitting cosily at the Pebblebed Tasting Cellar trestle tables, enjoying a range of Italian homecooked foods from the Vino Kitchen. Memorable dishes have been sgombro in saor - Venetian style sweet-and-sour local mackerel; Tuscan sausages and beans; brodetto - a fish and shellfish stew in the style of Ancona; our cena al limone - a 'lemon evening' with lemon risotto, lemon chicken and lemon puddings; and, most recently, a summer meal of panzanella - Tuscan bread salad (see recipe below) followed by Roman style porchetta - Kenniford slow-roasted belly and loin of pork stuffed with fennel, garlic and chillies.

We now have a schedule of Vino Kitchen dates for the coming months:

September 23rd - American Table

October 14th - Italian Table (La Bagna Cauda to celebrate the vendemmia - harvest)

November 18th - Italian Table

December 16th - Vino Italian Table holiday celebration evening

The format is very simple: the evenings are by reservation only and everyone turns up from 7pm for a 7.30 start. Part of the fun is that everyone sits together at the trestle tables. Be warned, it's pretty cosy, and this is a time to get together with both friends as well as to meet and make new friends.

Payment for the food is to Vino (currently £10 for 2 courses for Club Vino/Friends of Pebblebed members, otherwise £12.50 for non-members, with an optional extra cheese or dessert course usually available). Wines are purchased from Geoff, including Vino house white and red at just £10 per bottle.

These evenings have proved to be very popular and for most months we have had a waiting list. So if you would like to join us, please email marc@vino.co.uk as soon as possible to secure your place. Payment in advance is appreciated.

An A-Z of Italian grape varieties
As Club Vino members, we hope you are enjoying the range of outstanding Italian wines that we bring to you direct from the vineyards. Wines such as Mario Fontana's Barbera d'Alba and Giuditta Politi's Loretello Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi are classics. Barbera and Verdicchio are both grape varieties that are quintessentially Italian in character, with flavours and personalities that are quite unique. In Italy, there are literally hundreds of indigenous grape varieties often rarely encountered outside of their area or region of production. This is exciting for the intrepid wine lover, but it can also be baffling to those coming to Italian wine for the first time. The best way to learn is simply to choose wines that you've never heard of before and then sit down and drink them. Second best is to read my simple guide to Italian grape varieties, as published recently in Italy Magazine:

The Ultimate Student Cookbook
It's September, back to school time. And off or back to university time, too. I can't help, therefore, but make a shameless plug for a wonderful new student cookbook, written by our good friend Fiona Beckett, with contributions from three foodie student co-authors, James, Sig, and, yes, our own son Guy. Of course I am biased, but we think it is a really brilliant book not just for students but for anyone learning to cook, and to cook on a budget. Fiona is the author of a number of student cookbooks (as well as brilliant wine books), and so the recipes are tried and tested, and really do work. Furthermore there are additional recipes from each of the student cooks, as well as their own pithy comments, asides and 'student tips' peppered throughout the text. So if you know anyone about to go to university, or simply in need of a fun, basic primer on how to cook, then this is the book for them.

P.S. Guy and his girlfriend Claire, currently on a two-month trip across America, will be assisting us with this month's American Table - they are returning with lots of exciting ideas, so watch this space for the menu.


Here's to autumn, and to the winegrowers working so hard at this time of year to bring pleasure to our tables.

Best to all,

Marc and Kim




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

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