Grapecircus at Spit Cork.
Fantasia. Insania. Campania. Italia.
|Enrico, with square halo, and Aileen|
Enrico Fantasia is enthusiastic about wine #77 on his stand at the Spit Cork event in the River Lee Hotel. It is Falanghina ‘Insania’ 2016 by Bambinuto. That Falanghina is the grape variety and the best known variety from this area in Campania is Greco di Tufo which is also produced by Bambinuto.
The vineyard is about an hour east of Naples, yet in 2006 Marilena Aufiero was told she was mad to start her operation here, hence the name Insania. “She took a chance,” said an admiring Enrico, the man behind Grapecircus who are best known for Italian wines. The wine, which has spent six month on lees, is delicious, fresh with minerality. This, and others from the Grapecircus portfolio, are available via Sheridan’s Cheesemongers. Others available online via SIYPS.
Enrico has been described as “the charismatic ringmaster of Italian wines in Ireland”. He also owns a wine bar, Piglet in Temple Bar. It is not his first restaurant venture. “I couldn't stay away.”. While Grapecircus have a strong Italian list, they now include wines from all over Europe, “made by passionate people with respect for nature.. that express terroir and tradition.”
Traditionally, the Castelli dei Jesi wine-producing zone in eastern Italy is noted for its Verdicchio and Enrico’s example was the Saltatempo 2016 produced by La Marca de San Michele. Verdicchio apparently means the little green one and there are tints of green in the colour and apple notes on the palate. This one is soft and round with a crisp acidity and a pleasant slightly bitter finish.
My next white came from the Mengoba vineyard in Bierzo, Spain, the Brezo Blanco 2016. It is a Godello with some Dõna Blanca, produced more or less organically but with no certification. This relatively full-bodied wine has responded well to five months on lees, pretty intense and with a strikingly long finish.
I had intended to try his Muscadet but Enrico wasn't happy with the bottles supplied - just goes to show his professionalism - so I switched my attention to the Albarino. A taster alongside me remarked there is no such thing as a bad Albarino and this Saras 2015 by Entre Os Rios was another good one. Good colour and aroma (tropical fruits), a richer style perhaps than usual, fruity, juicy and a long dry finish.
Aileen took me through some of the Grapecircus reds, a brilliant mini-tour, mainly through Italy. Starting with When We Dance 2015, the Chianti by the Sting co-owned winery Tenuta Il Palagio. “It is the entry level wine,” Aileen said. “they are just outside the Classico area so it is good value and 2015 was a very good year.” And indeed, this is a very good wine, cherry prominent, and fresh, organic of course.
A quick step over to France and to Bourgueil by the Loire and a tasting of Yannick Amirault’s La Coudraye 2016. Yannick is “one of the top producers and is certified organic.” Cabernet Franc is the red grape all around this area. It is noted for its freshness and that shone through this lovely rich wine, Aileen describing it as dense.
Back to Tuscany now and the Rosso de Montalcino Banditella 2014, produced from Sangiovese grapes by Col D’Orcia. This is a super wine from “the area's third largest producer”. “But the focus is on quality. It was a tough year in 2014 but good producers produce good wine even in bad years.” The winery was certified organic in 1999 and this red is a beauty, balanced, great finish.
The Marche in Italy wasn't too far away and my final stop was Fattoria San Lorenzo for their Rosso Piceno Burello 2014, a blend of 50/50 Sangiovese and Montepulciano, their top wine, rich but not heavy, superb and with a long long finish.
Last week, one hundred bottles of “wine without make-up” were up for tasting in the River Lee Hotel thanks to the combined efforts of four Dublin wine companies. Spit, as the combination is called, consists of Winemason, Nomad Wine, Vinostito, and Grapecircus and virtually all the wines were organic. And there wasn't a dud among them.