“And to drink?”

ESTRO Vino e Cucina

21 November 2018

A bone dry French sparkler was a good aperitif: Brut Zero, Gamay Blanc 2014. Metodo Classico, Grosbut Barbara. We also tried their own Prosecco – not recommended, it’s a ‘natural wine’, hazy and rather sour.

There’s a long wine list, with few bottles under €30, and while nothing is listed by the glass, there’s a choice of open bottles on the bar.

We chose a white Malvasia from Collio with our antipasti, then a glass of Gattinara (a local name for Nebbiolo) with the Castradina Scivona soup.



Alle Testiere

22 November 2018

Ribolla Gialla, the yellow Ribolla. I often order it in Venice. You don’t often see it in the UK, it’s dry with a bit of substance, and perfect with fish.




You increasingly see wines from outside northeast Italy on Venetian lists, and they often represent good value. Venetians even refer to people from the Italian mainland as “foresti”, so perhaps it’s not so surprising.

This one is labelled as Italian, made of grapes from vineyards that straddle the border of Italy and Slovenia. €32 – dry, juicy, greengagey.



We ordered glasses of a lovely sweet Verduzzo with desserts (Pannacotta with bitter orange, and a passionfruit gelato) – redolent of butterscotch, barley sugar and dried apricots.

The wine list here is helpfully coded with asterisks: *** are the most “natural”, with minimal intervention. One asterisk* wines are more conventionally made.

“Natural” wine can be lovely, and a good winemaker will make good wine, but it’s an unpredictable part of a restaurant experience. (If I want to drink something that tastes like rough cider, I’d rather order cider and pay an appropriate price).


St John Wine

September 2018

St John Wine’s September selection


I was tempted by the description of a case to see you through a month with one foot still in a sandal on the beach, while the other was pulling on a cosy sock.

I was also intrigued to try Mon P’tit Pithon. It reminded me of a French colleague who was trying to convey his enthusiasm for a British comedy show; it took me a while to understand that with his accent, it was Monty Python!




Choux restaurant, Amsterdam

26 April 2018

Wine Pairings:

Pietrobianco 2016, Danile Portinari with the vegetable starter. Unfiltered dry white from the Veneto, clean, mineral and citrussy. A blend of Tai Bianco (Tocai) and Pinot Bianco.


Pietrobianco 2016



MPN 2016, Philippe Viret, Rhone Valley. Morels go well with Pinot Noir; they served MPN, a very light red: a blend of Vaccarese, Muscardin & Counoise which the producer calls MPN (“Mon” Pinot Noir – in the style of Pinot Noir) served cool; slightly barnyardy, sour cherry, refreshing.


Mon “Pinot Noir”



Sancerre Les Quarterons 2014, Etienne et Sebastien Riffault, poured from a magnum, with the oyster dish. Picked 1-2 months late to encourage botrytis, so the aroma was sweet, but the palate was dry. Bone dry, with a richness and texture unusual in a Sauvignon Blanc. It was desperate to be tasted with an oyster.


Aged Sancerre from the magnum



Pet’ Nat, Jolly Ferriol, Syrah/Grenache from the Roussillon. 13.5% crown cap, petillant.

Very pale red with a touch of residual sugar and refreshing acidity, a fair exchange with the rhubarb dessert: poached rhubarb, rhubarb foam over a white chocolate cream. Sharp Raspberry meringue bonbons. Wild magnolia sorbet (too scented for me). A scattering of pistachios.


Petillant Naturel




Betuws Gold by Lubberhuizen & Raaff, an eaux-de-vie of apple, pear, plum, cherry, raspberry & quince. Crystal clear, aromatic and smooth as silk.


Eaux de Vie “fruit cocktail”




Mexican wine at Santo Remedio

February 2018

Wine was being made in Mexico before Argentina and Chile established vineyards. The Mexican wines of L. A. Cetto were pioneered in the UK by importers Albion Wine Shippers in the 1980s. http://themodestmerchant.com/

I lay claim to being the first independent retailer in London to stock their Petite Sirah, and it was a pleasure to rediscover it here; like greeting an old friend.  Bright and juicy, with fruity acidity like a good Italian Barbera, it works well with Edson Diaz-Fuentes’s flood, as does a Chenin Blanc; soft, clean primary fruit, and a hint of honey that complements the vibrant lime and chilli. There’s also a sparkling Chardonnay, served in champagne saucers (a sign of a restaurant that takes having fun seriously)

The restaurant also has an enviable collection of Mezcal


Del Maguey “single village” Mezcal





February 2018

Single vineyard Soave Vigneti di Carbonate 2016 from Inama had its first outing at a London tasting by importers Winetraders; it will be available in the UK from April 2018.

Carbonate is a new project from the winery; the vineyard is east facing and very steep, so the grapes ripen in the morning sun. The resulting wine has an appetising fresh acidity, very elegant.

http://www.inama.wine/en/  http://www.winetraders.eu/inama


Soave 2016, Vigneti di Carbonare


December 2017

                                                                                                                                               Chefs and sommeliers would have fun in this restaurant. We followed owner Paolo’s wine recommendations:
Durello, a rare white grape variety, grown on volcanic soil near Vicenza by Angelino Maule. I thought it smelled distinctly of coconut, with a juicy fresh acidity.

Garganega 2016, Angelino Maule. I’m ambivalent about “natural wine”, but this “orange wine”” tasted very fresh, despite the prolonged skin contact.

With cheese (a Tuscan Pecorino, and a Fossa from Friuli, served with apple and pear mostarda) Paolo brought us a dry, pale bronze Garganega Vendemmia Tardiva, and then Il Corzano, a ripe, lightly oaked Sangiovese from Tuscany.

We finished with a featherlight chocolate mousse, made with orange, olive oil, and Malay pink pepper (with its fragrance of pink grapefruit), and an extremely rare Vin Santo di Gambellara from Vicenza. The tawny “bloodshot” colour is also known as “Ochio di perniche” (partridge eye).


Paolo’s lineup at Vini da Gigio



December 2017

We drank a simple Vermentino with our fish, and finished with an outstanding sweet wine; Riesling 10 vendemmia Pelz, Trentino http://www.cantinapelz.com/dolci/dieci-vendemmie.html – the grapes are affected by noble rot, and picked by hand.

I couldn’t resist trying an Amaro from Rome, infused with iron. Medicinal and extremely bitter, it’s supposed to help the digestion….



December 2017

A graceful Franciacorta spumante with very gentle bubbles, dry but honeyed and golden.
Livio Felluga Sharis, a blend of Chardonnay and Ribolla Gialla. 4 euros a glass.
Inama Soave Superiore, fresh and elegant. 4.5 euros. All very good value.




Franciacorta at La Palanca




ELY WINE BAR, DUBLIN                                                                                                                 

(where it’s always evening….)


Sherry. It was dark, I couldn’t read the label.


Sherry. Beaujolais. It was dark, I couldn’t read the labels.



Black Apollo, Holt, Norfolk

a perfect cortado


Cafe Cortado


Spanish style. Half coffee, half milk