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Archive for the ‘Wines and Vineyards’ Category

TOLA – A Taste of Sicily

June 8, 2011 by Christine No Comments »

   The Tola Winery ( produces wine from their  vineyards which are situated in Tola’s estate of Bosco Falconeria and Giambascio at about 400 mt above sea level, in the most glamorous Sicilian ” terroir ” , between Palermo and Trapani, where the planes blown by warm Scirocco winds and light sea breezes give way to the sweet and sunny hills.

Love for the land, great respect for the nature, enthusiasm and pleasure in creating along with passion for the wine, characterise our way of living and our philosophy of work.
The Tola family has been taking care of their vineyards and creating a range of high quality wines for over three generations.

A Taste of Italy offers you the basic range from Tola at less than €10.00 per bottle in our on line shop. Have a look at the Njiro range and enjoy the taste of the sun. We’re offering a special discount on these wine until 8th July



On-Line Shop – Loads of New Wines

June 7, 2011 by Christine 1 Comment »

For all those of you who use our on-line shop or who would like to check it out, we’ve just finished updating it with plenty of new wines. We’ve also added a couple of categories to make it easier for you.

Have a look at our under €10.00 section for some great wines from Sicily and Abruzzo.

Or try our half bottle selection to be brave with some amazing wines without the cost of a full bottle.

Happy Shopping.


The beauty of Brancaia

April 8, 2011 by Inez No Comments »

Brancaia is one of the leading wineries in Tuscany, Brancaia only produces four wines,  however the four wines which they do produce are quite simply outstanding.  There are many contributing factors which make a wine so special the first being the location of the winery.  Brancaia being  in the heart of the Chianti Classico zone is an area famous for it’s excellent “Terroir”.  Brancaia’s vinyards all have hillside location, looking south, southwest or southeast which means the grapes recieve maximum sunlight and  ripen to their full potential, consequently improving  the flavour of the wine.  The vines are then planted quite close together which resutls in the vines having to compete with each other for the nutrients in the soil.  The moderate amount of stress which they suffer from also results in  the grapes ripening earlier and the yield being reduced.  A reduced yield gives a far better quality of wine. As the saying goes “A struggling vine, makes good wine” .

The bunches of grapes on the vine are then thinned out mid June,  this means that the remaining grapes recieve all the of the vines attention and the concentration levels are increased which again improves the flavour and quality of the wine. 
Naturally each of the different wines have different vinification methods but all of the equipment used at the estate is modern and stat of the art.  The barrels used for maturing are French oak with medium toasting and used only for 3 years as they believe after this period the lovely oak flavours are imparted less and less.

As you can see there are many reasons for Brancaia’s success,  from their viticultural methods in the vinyard, to the vinification methods in the winery.  Their success comes from scrupulous attention to detail in all areas and we are proud to be importing their wines.

Inez O’Shea
“A Taste of Italy”


Brancaia Tre                                           Brancaia Il Blu



Brancaia Illatraia                              Brancaia Chianti Classico




March 31, 2011 by Inez No Comments »

ProweinLast week was the annual Prowein Fair in Dusseldorf, Germany. This fair not only exhibits wines from Germany but in fact wines from all over the world, both Old World and New World.  Here importers get the opportunity to source new wines and wineries, while wine growers get the opportunity to exhibit and promote their wines. 

After the fair most people head into Dusseldorf to the German beer houses for a feast of traditional German cuisine.  Schweinshaxe would be the dish of choice which is the knuckle of the pig which is either grilled or boiled, this is normally served with  fried potatoes, white asparagus and Hollondaise sauce, all washed down with the local  German beer.  All in all it’s a great atmosphere both at the fair and in Dusseldorf  and makes for a great trip.

Here is a little German recipe which if your feeling adventerous you may tackle.  After getting through not even 1 quarter of my Schweinshaxe,  the following night I decided to opt for another typical German dish which may be on the “smaller” side and be a little more tender and easier to eat. So I opted for the lamb, which was soft, flavoursome and although still quite large (German portions aren’t for the faint hearted) it was thoroughly enjoyable!!

Roast Lamb- German Style

  • 6 – 7 lb. leg of lamb
  • 2 garlic cloves, cut into slivers
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 tbsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 6 oz. Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth or water



  • Preheat oven to 350° F.
  • Trim fat from roast.
  • Cut slits (1 in. deep) on top and sides of roast and insert slivers of garlic.
  • Combine salt, pepper, sugar and cloves in small bowl. Spread mixture over roast, using hands to rub it in.
  • Spread mustard in a thin coat on sides and top of roast.
  • Put lamb on rack in roasting pan. Add broth or water. Cover.
  • Bake 2 hours, basting every 15 minutes with cooking liquid.
  • Remove cover and continue to bake and baste until lamb reaches internal temperature of 175° F. (takes about 30 to 60 minutes more). Add extra water if needed.
  • Strain cooking liquid and serve with roast.
  • Serves 10 to 12.

Of course traditionally beer should be drunk with such a meal, however a lovely full bodied red would be just as nice.  I enjoyed a Montepuliciano d’ Abruzzo Coste delle Plai by Podere Castorani.   This wine is full of fruits and jam packed with flavour.   The wine is made from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes   which generally gives quite a full bodied richly flavoured wine, Podere Castorani then on top of this use the “sur lie” method which involves ageing the wine on it’s lees for 5-6 months, this gives the wine even further body and flavour.  In the glass you will notice that the wine is a rich ruby red colour with aromas of cherries, prunes, and small forest fruits. On the palate is has rich strong flavours of stewed fruits.  Abruzzi is in Central Italy so it is quite a warm environment the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo is local to this region and is known for not having a huge amount of tannins.  This is highly noticeable, in the Coste dell Plai, the tannins which it does have are elegant and soft.  It has a long finish and all in all goes very nicely with the German Lamb. 

Inez O’Shea
“A Taste of Italy”


Montepulicano d’Abbruzzo with Beef and Guinness Stew

February 4, 2011 by Inez No Comments »

The Marquess' Beef & Guinness StewDespite the fact that it’s still 5 degrees outside, summer is not far away. Already the days are getting slightly longer, and the sun is just that little bit warmer, in other words, there’s a ligh at the end of the tunnel.  Having not experienced many COLD winters, being from Brisbane,which is considered to be a “sub tropical” environment, I wondered to myself in November how on earth I would get through the long, cold, argious winter. However suprisingly I found that winter isn’t  all THAT bad! One things for sure sailing, and swimming goes out the window however there are many aspects that I DO enjoy about winter. The main aspect being the change in diet, to be honest our diet in Brisbane never really changes, simply because it’s not cold enough and winter doesn’t stretch long enough for things to change too dramatically, the temperature on everage  in winter is about 20 degrees during the day and perhaps in the dead of the night the temperature may drop below 8 degrees.  So as you can imagine there is no real need to eat wholesome warming meals, and drink rich full bodied reds.  So although we would crack out the soups and perhaps eat inside rather then on the verandah, nothing much changes for us during winter. 
However as I’ve discovered this is not the case here, rack’s of lamb, stew’s, casserol’s, slow cooked meat, polenta, pudding,  and warm soufle’s are all wonderful winter dishes which I’ve come to know and love.  It really makes such a nice change to sit down to a good bowl of hot soup, or a hearty casserol with a little bread and butter to mop up the sauce.  Naturally with these types of dishes requires a good full bodied red. Which is why I chose to pair this dish with a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.  The
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Coste delle Plai by Jarno Trulli comes fromt the Abruzzi region, and this wine is usually medium to full bodied.  It is a wine renowned for being jam packed with flavour.  Because Abruzzi is in East/central Italy the climate is lovely and warm, which consequently increases the sugar and alcohol levels in the grape. The Montepulciano grape ripens quite late so it’s unsuitable  for the North of Italy,   however it thrives in the long warm summers of Central Italy.                                                                                                                                                                      
Montepulciano d’Abbruzo has a lovely deep rich purple colour, with soft tannins.  The Coste dell Plai is medium bodied and has a strong aromas of prunes, black cherries and red fruits  On the palate it has flavours of red berries, plum,  and notes of mature fruit.  It is rich and balanced with a long finish. The strong fruit flavours went very well with the rich flavours of the beef, onions, and juices of the guinness and it is a wine that you can continue to enjoy well after your meal.

Beef and Guinness Stew 

  • 2 large onions , diced
  • a few sprigs thyme
  • 1 garlic clove , crushed
  • olive oil                                                                                                                                                             
  • 1kg braising steak , cut into chunks
  • 6 tbsp plain flour , well seasoned                                                                                                 
  • 500ml Guinness
  • beef stock fresh, cube or concentrate made up to 250ml                                                                                   
  • parsley chopped, to serve
  •  Method:

    1. Cook the onions, thyme and garlic with a little olive oil in a large casserole until the onion is softened and translucent. Dust the braising steak in the seasoned flour and brown in a hot pan with a little oil.
    When the beef has a good, even colour, add it to the pan with the onions and pour in the Guinness. Top up with the stock to just cover the beef.
    Cover and simmer over a very low heat or transfer to a 150C/fan 130C/gas 3 oven for 2-3 hours until the beef is meltingly tender (check after 2 hours). Season to taste and add some chopped parsley. Serves this with colcannon.


    Inez O’Shea
    “A Taste of Italy”


    Herb encrusted lamb & Barbaresco

    January 18, 2011 by Inez No Comments »

    Just because christmas is over doesn’t mean to say the food and wine has to end, well not in my world anyway!! I made this recipe for the girls I live with and it went down a treat.  Im not suprised that it they enjoyed it so much normally they have a diet of Crunchy Nut Cornflakes and Lyons Tea so it was only natural that the lamb was a welcome change!!!

    Herb Encrusted Lamb
    1 rack of lamb, enough for 4 people with the fat taken off
    2 cloves of garlic
    1 tbsp of dried Thyme
    1 tbsp of dried Rosemarry
    1 tbsp of dried Oregon
    1 tbsp of dried Parsley
    2 tbsp of bread crumbs
    2 or 3 tbsp of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    Salt and Pepper

    Method: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.  Mix all of the ingredients into a bowl then simply smear the the herb mixture over the rack of lamb. Place the lamb on any container which will contain the juices and put in the oven for 40-45mins.  Ensure that the oven is not too hot as the herbs on the outside will burn.
    I then prepared some mash potatoes with dill, and some carrots and beans with butter and a little onion. 

    A dish like this must have a good wine to go with it,  lamb being a highly flavoursome and fairly heavy meat should have an equally flavoursome and full bodied wine to match.  As I was lashing out I decided to have a Barbaresco by Elvio Cogno.Elvio Cogno
    Elvio Cogno is a winery situated in the heart of the Langhe district in Piedmonte and naturally they produce two of Italy’s most famous red wines, Barolo and Barbaresco!!! The Barbarescois made from the same Nebbiolo grape as the Barolo however it is not as full bodied as the Barolo.  Barbesco is a very elegant and aromatic wine and this is because of the excellent vinification methods. It must be aged for at least 2 years one of which must be in oak barells, and is best drunk after 5-10 years.  The Barbaresco is rich and spicy and has wonderful flavours of  rose petal, red fruits, tar, and earth.  It does need to be decantered though but after good 30mins it was smooth, and soft and lived up to its name of being a highly elegant wine.  These wondeful array of flavours and aromas make it a perfect match for the lamb and all in all you have an amazing meal on your hands.


    Inez O’Shea
    “A Taste of Italy”


    The “Green” Evoloution of Salchetto

    November 9, 2010 by Inez No Comments »

    Salcheto Winery, Montepulciano, TuscanySalchetto is based in the Montepulciano region very close to Siena. The estate stretches over 113 acres 81 of which are vinyards. There are many remarkable aspects about Salcheto but probaby the most outstanding is the simple fact that Salcheto have decided to go “green”, this for a winery is not easily achieved!!

    Up until a few years ago Salchetto was like any other winery, they had power supplied by the local power company, they plugged in their computers, they they used air conditioning in summer and heating in winter,  basically they were normal !! However Salchetto has decided to change their ways and become completely “environmentally friendly” As you can imagine this is a huge investment and one which has taken a huge amount of planning, time and money.

    Salchetto will use all natural methods of heating, lighting, and airconditioning. There will be no electric lights in the different working areas, but only solar light panels, since they plan to work only during daylight hours. An efficient insulation system, together with many other innovations for example, cooling of the roof by recycled water evaporation will reduce energy consumption. Heating will be provided by using the excess foilage from the vineyards and tree cultivation. Cooling will come from the geothermal exchange of temperature with the soil, a natural and simple system that will bring their tanks during fermentation from 25 to 14 degrees with a small, 1 kilowatt pump.  Of course they will need some electricity to run things. As a result they will use 20 kilowatts of solar energy.

    Salcheto Wine Tasting

     Along with the complete reconstruction of their winery they are still managing to produce their award winning wines. Rosato di Toscana, Chianti Colli Senesi, Rosso di Montepulciano, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG, and the famous “Salco” and “Salco Evolouzione”.  For those of you who aren’t aware of the story behind the “Salco” phenomenon, basically the workers in the winery  kept noticing that grapes from a particular section of the vinyard were arriving in near perfect condition, which is very unusual. After closely studying the grape they discovered that the grape is a native clone of the  Prugnolo Gentile grape.  It’s cluster was well spread and, therefore, better able than others to resist light over-ripening and reach “full maturation.” 1.5 hectars were then replanted and in total just 9000 bottles have been released 5000 were were aged in oak for 18 months and then left to age in the celler for 4 years this is called “Salco” and 4000 bottles were left to age for a further 6 years “Salco Evolouzione” and thus an extrmely rare and particular wine was born.

    Salchetto have achieved a huge feat and are to be commended. We look forward to visiting the winery and seeing this amazing achievment for ourselves. Well done!!

    Inez O’Shea
    “A taste of Italy”



    October 24, 2010 by Inez No Comments »

    It seems as though when it rains it pours, last week we had a wonderful book launch and this week we have Roberto Bosticcio coming to visit us from Italy. Roberto works for Salcheto and supplies us with “Chianti Colli Senesi”,  Rosso di Montepulciano, Vino Nobile, and the famous “Evolouzione”. 

    Salchetto is a winery based in Montepulciano, Tuscany. They are renowned for their excellent red wines. The winery at the moment is undergoing huge renovations, so that the entire winery will be “green” in other words extremely environmentally friendly.  We are very pleased to be associated with Salchetto and we welcome Roberto!!

    Inez O’Shea
    “A taste of Italy”


    Ruche Wines

    August 19, 2010 by Inez No Comments »

    While travelling in the Italian region of Piedmont I was eating in a small pub in the town of Castognole, this small pub was totally my style: simple, easy, laid back, with of course briliant food and wine. What made this pub also so special was the “randomness” of the clientele, there were families having dinner, teenagers having a few beers,  couples enjoying a quite dinner together, even a group of elderly locals had gathered to enjoy a grappa and a chat. With the mixture and confusion of everybody it created an energetic and exciting atmosphere.  It was here that the owner who runs the pub with her husband recommend I try a Ruche wine with my meal. 

    My response was Ru…. what???Having never heard of a Ruche, she explained that Ruche is from the Castognole region which is a small zone of about 10kms comprising of the 7 small villiages in Castagnole Monferrato.  Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato is now a DOC production region. Ruchè wine is made from a rare indigenous grape variety, which has been researched and discovered to have its very own DNA.  The annual production is around 450,000 – 500,000  bottles of wine, with only 75 hectares of Ruchè vineyards existing.

    Ruche wine is revered in this small area because of its rarety and uniqueness. Traditionally only the locals drank it however word is slowly starting to spread about this wine and its starting to creep over the borders and even abroad, slowly but surely. 
    It is produced in the traditional method and is drunk quite young, due to its age it is has a lovely ruby red colour, the aromas are of red berries and very floral!! To be honest the taste is like nothing I have ever tried.  It is so particular and different I really can’t compare it to anything!! Medium bodied,  fruity and faintly sweet.  It is not tannic but rather soft and smooth!! The fruity red berry and plum flavours make it an easy drinking and extremely pleasant wine which I continued to enjoy well into the evening!! It goes very well with the local cheeses of Piedmont, as well as a good old Piemontese pasta.  Ruche is well worth a try and I can guarantee like nothing you have ever tried!!

    Inez O’Shea “A taste of Italy


    Wines from Campania

    August 9, 2010 by Inez No Comments »

    As we all know there are literally thousands and thousands of different wines and grapes in Italy!! I am regretful that when I lived there I didn’t try to try more wines from different regions, unfortunately I tended to stick to whatever the waiter/waitress recommended in the restaurant and that was that!! I have since discovered so many lovely wines from different regions in Italy which I had never even clapped eyes on!!!

    For example wines from Campania are brilliant!! Stupidly I thought that the only good products which  came out of Napoli was good tomato sauce and Limoncello, but how wrong I was. The native grapes from Campania include Greco or (Greco di Tufo) which many people are familiar with, Falanghina, Fiano, and Fedelis, of course these aren’t the only wines but definitely the main wines which are produced here!! I am drawn to these wines not just because they are lovely but because of their uniquenss. 

    These grapes date back to the Roman times and  due to the location have a very distinct flavour.  Campania’s temperature in Summer it is very hot and in Winter remains quite moderate.  Not only this but many of the vinyards are on the coast or very near to the coast so they receive the cool mediterranean breezes. Overlooking the city of Napoli is a large Volcano called Mount Vesuvius, this volcano is the only volcano on the European mainland to have erupted in the last 100 years naturally the volcanic soils have many minerals and chemicals which affect the vine and consequently give the wines a distinct flavour. 

    Suprisingly the wines are not too heavy or full bodied but very flavoursome and smooth. Dut to the warm climate they are quite citrusy but not too much!! They make for great summer drinking, and the fact that these wines are relatively unknown makes it special and exciting to drink!!


    Inez O’Shea
    “A taste of Italy”