In February we were invited to take part in a tasting which had been organised by our UK importer Passione Vino at a rather smart address in the West End of London. The event was by invitation only and well attended, with restaurateurs and buyers in the majority, most of whom were Italian, providing a rather surreal setting in which I was required to spend most of the day prattling in Italian . There were occasional punctuations to the proceedings when handfuls of producers broke away from their bottle openers, in order to peer through the frosted glass windows to watch the Bearskin-wearing, foot-stomping and rifle-wielding changing of the guards on duty at the side gates of the next door palace.
Among the wines I had the opportunity to taste, three from Trentino have since become firm favourites. These young, passionate wine makers introduced their wines with such infectious enthusiasm and modesty that I wanted to gather them up and bring them home to Sicily with us. Eugenio Rosi’s beautifully made Marzemino was sublime, as was Marco Furli’s Sauvignon Blanc and Alessandro Fanti’s Nosiola.
We had been informed that the day would conclude with dinner at a nearby restaurant and after being gently herded up St James St, left into Piccadilly and across the road into Berkley St, we were halted in front of what appeared to be a rather swish establishment called Novikov, owned by Russia’s most famous and successful restaurateur, Arkady Novikov, who apparently heads an empire with more than 50 restaurants throughout Moscow. In we shuffled, and were icily greeted by floral frocked, long-legged, beautiful-looking creatures with scarily scraped back hair, who gave us directions past the vast Asian eating area and bar, towards the Italian restaurant on the lower floor. Upon descending the staircase we passed a well-built gentleman in a dark suit, talking quietly into his lapel and at the foot of the stairs we were confronted with an enormous windowless room containing an overwhelming sea of chattering tightly packed Botox, Bulgari and soft leather, whereupon we were swiftly rescued and trawled to our tables by a pretty southern Mediterranean-looking girl. The meal was Italian, as was the company, which was marginally better. We shared our wines, winemaking experiences and had an altogether very pleasant conclusion to an engaging and informative day.