Last week Collette enjoyed an evening of Sicilian wine tasting at Chandos Deli.
Chandos Deli is known throughout the South West (Bristol, Bath & Exeter) for their wide range of speciality foods, both local and imported, including farmhouse cheeses, charcuterie, fresh bread, antipasti, award-winning sandwiches and, of course, fine wines. So, when I was invited to their Princesshay deli for an evening of Sicilian wine tasting, I was happy to oblige…The Wine Tasting
The Wine Tasting
On the evening of the tasting, I took my seat at a table laid out with a large sharing platter of antipasti. Amongst the offerings was a board of fresh crusty baguette, olive oil & balsamic dip, tasty cheese slices, plenty of charcuterie and a bowl of Chandos Deli’s own in-house marinated olives, which were large and juicy. It was a little too much for one person, but as a group it would have been just right to accompany an evening of wine tasting.
Olbert was our sommelier for the evening – which is just as well, considering he has been supplying Chandos Deli with their wines for over 18 years. Throughout the evening Olbert was on hand to answer our burning questions and he started off with an introduction to the regions and vineyards of Sicily, followed by first of our evening wines. Tasca D’Almerita Winery
Tasca D’Almerita Winery
Throughout the evening, we were sampling wines from Tasca D’Almerita, who have been producing wine for almost two centuries. It all started in 1830, when brothers Lucio and Carmelo Mastrogiovanni Tasca purchased 1200 hectares in Contrada Regaleali. Some eight generations later, the winery has grown to encompass five different estates in Sicily – Regaleali, Capofaro, Tascante, Whitaker and Sallier de La Tour. Each of these regions has its own unique characteristics and something different to offer wine connoisseurs (as Olbert explained throughout the evening).
Sustainability is at the very heart of the Tasca approach to winemaking. The whole process from land to bottle is sustainable. They prefer the cycles of nature to be in control and more information about their practices can be found on their website.
The first wine of the evening was a white wine that was light in colour and also on the nose. It contained soft citrus notes and was a lovely way to start the evening.
Grillo, Cavallo delle Fate, 2016
Grillo, which translates as “cricket,” is a historical Sicilian grape variety. This variety was made famous through the international production of Marsala wine, but this particular bottle was a dry white wine that paired beautifully with our charcuterie and cheese on the evening. It’s pale gold in colour and contained flavours not dissimilar to citrus and tropical fruits. Personally, I thought it had a slight sparkling sensation to it and I thought it went well with the garlic salami and cheese slices.
Lamùri, Nero d’Avola 2016
Our first red wine of the evening owed it’s name to the Sicilian word for love L’Amore. Which is rather ironic, considering this was my favourite glass of the evening. I loved it so much, I bought a bottle to take home with me (£19). It’s a lovely combination of ripe purple fruits and I personally thought it left a hint of almond on the palate. This bottle also carries the Certificate of Sustainability (SOStain) which is wonderful!
The next red of the evening was a deep, dry variety, which wasn’t quite to my taste. Perricone is a lesser known grape variety from Sicily and it seemed to go down a treat with some of the red wine enthusiasts
As the tasting drew to an end, we were treated to cannoli from the Chandos kitchens. I hadn’t realised that these little fried pastry shells originated from Sicily. If you haven’t tried them before, they are typically filled with ricotta or mascarpone cheese, which is whipped together with a choice of sweet fillings such as chocolate, pistachio, cocoa, or candied fruits.
To compliment these, we were given a lovely honey coloured dessert wine called Capofaro Malvasia. This contained the lingering sweetness of apricot and pineapple and was really quite delicious (which one would expect at £39 bottle).
My evening of Sicilian wine tasting at Chandos Deli was a relaxed and enjoyable way to get familiarised with wines from the region. Having an expert such as Olbert on hand to help guide me through the many facets of wine tasting was both helpful and reassuring, and the selection of antipasti and sweet treats really enhanced the overall experience.