Monday, November 10, 2014

Fantinel - Italian wines from Friuli at Mondiall in the V&A Waterfront

We don’t often have the opportunity to taste single estate regional wines from Europe and it is always a very good learning experience when we do. On Monday we attended a tasting of wine from the Fruili area in North East Italy, presented by the producer, Fantinel. The tasting was held at Mondiall restaurant in the Waterfront. We were welcomed with a glass of chilled crisp Spumante Prosecco DOC extra Dry and then proceeded upstairs to a tasting of their range of wines, which they export to South Africa. The company was founded by their grandfather Mario, who was in the hotel and restaurant business in 1969 when he bought his first vineyards, continued by his sons Luciano, Gianfranco and Loris and is now run by the third generation Marco, Stefano and Mariaelena
Lunch downstairs in the main restaurant was prepared for us by Chef/owner Peter Tempelhoff and was rather tempting and special
Mondiall restaurant in the Waterfront
The view from the dockside outside the restaurant. Postcard perfect
A slight distraction, the Volvo Ocean Race arrived this week and the boats are all in the same vicinity, out of the water being repaired and prepared for their next lap of this round the world race
Awaiting us was the chilling Prosecco, a Charmat method sparking wine made from Glera (the grape formerly known, itself, as "Prosecco"
in unusually shaped bottles for bubbly
Lynne chatting to two sommeliers. Angela Lloyd in the foreground
Canapé of Miso glazed pork belly topped with pineapple salsa, a nightmare to eat neatly, but superb flavours.
Art on display in the restaurant
The wine tasting took place in the smaller upstairs gallery
Marco Fantinel presented their wines
The wines come from just outside Trieste and Vencò-Dolegna del Collio, a few steps from the boundary with Slovenia. The mild climate, provided by the protection of the Julian Alps in the north and the Adriatic Sea to the south with the fertile soil made up of sandstone marls from Eocene origin create good terroir for their wines
We tasted 2 Proseccos; one Ribolla Gialla Brut full of bready perfume with quite crisp acidity and length; a Friulano smelling of linen and almonds with a silky mouth and the classic touch of bitterness on the end – Lynne, who used to ski a lot in Northern Italy is sure she drank a lot of this lovely wine.  
Two Pinot Grigios, Italy’s most popular grape – the second one was full or artichokes, earthy and smelling of daffodils, with a nice full satisfying mouth, definitely a food wine. Then a Collio Bianco which is a blend of Fruilano, Pinot Bianco and Chardonnay. The white blend Eclisse La Roncaia blew us away. It is full of fresh Hanepoot grapyness, and sweet honey silkiness. Warm grapes balanced with acidity, lovely depth and length with a nice bitter wood on the end. And this is only from 1 barrel of Sauvignon Blanc which was added, the wine was not wooded
Mauro Pavesi, Fantinel's Brand manager for Africa 
The line up of wines served with a great lunch. 
The red wines were a Cassis driven elegant Cabernet Sauvignon; the Venko Collio Rosso was our favourite red. The K should be reversed but is impossible to print. It’s a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. Incense wood and good deep fruit on the “dive in” nose, with chalky tannins and a huge expression of ripe fruit layers with sophistication. The only question for this great wine is to drink now or keep? Then a Refosco , an ‘Amarone’ style made from this indigenous grape. After a late harvest the grapes are partially raisined for three weeks on straw, then not crushed, but macerated for 25 to 40 days after which it spends 2 years in French oak . It won the Decanter Grand Trophy. It tastes like a spicy and aromatic shiraz with cassis, chocolate and cherries
Neil Pendock looking pensive
Cathy Marston too
Chef patron Peter Tempelhoff in his kitchen saying “Oh, it’s you!”
Time for lunch downstairs. The starter was truly magnificent. Beautiful fresh seared Tuna Tataki, with a red quinoa and seaweed salad and a miso vinaigrette with a creamy mayonnaise. So many complimentary textures and flavours. Most of us could have done with a second helping
On the table at the same time, some chick pea humus with grilled vegetables and a dusting of smoked paprika
Media and food and wine trade enjoying lunch. We sat with Nicholas from Giovanni’s and Roberto Reffo from Adriatic, the importers of Fantinel
Oh those chips. Completely irresistible duck fat truffle and parmesan chips, served with a tender grain fed sirloin and in a small side bowl, a rich whisky mushroom cream. It also had a rather sweet barbecue sauce on the steak which we were not overly keen on. It was accompanied by fresh asparagus and grilled vine tomatoes
Pudding on the pass
Crunchy almond tuille, white chocolate and passion fruit gateau with a raspberry sorbet and coulis. This was served with the Ramandolo dessert wine made from Verduzzo Fruilano
The local price list
It was a very good presentation. Viva Italia!
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2014

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