Worth the experiment

Worth the experiment

Graham Hampson Silk was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2001 and given three years to live. He wasn’t prepared to accept that and, after taking part in a new clinical drug trial, he has been in remission for 13 years. He has since co-founded the charity Cure Leukaemia.

As a keen collector – but whisper it quietly to my doctor, also a keen drinker – of wine, the invitation to try two different bottles and give my interested, though inexpert, opinion, was obviously something I jumped at.

My own wine preference lies in the red wines of Bordeaux, and while my wines in-bond are simply a different approach to the normal investment profile, my collection at home concentrates heavily on Cru Bourgeois Wines, which in my humble opinion offer truly brilliant Clarets at sensible prices.

However, one downside of such a heavy concentration on a single region is that I don’t often try wines from other areas.

Therefore, the first wine I was given, I found really intriguing. As someone who can remember the negative reputation Austrian wine held in the 1980s, I’ve basically avoided drinking any. This has obviously been a mistake. Not only is this a red but it’s a blend that includes around 30% of the two main grapes of Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with the remainder the predominantly Austrian grape, Zweigelt.

I found this wine surprisingly good. Contrary to the trend with New World wines, it was not overloaded with fruit but had a good balance of tannin which together with the classic “red berries” – interestingly, I thought strawberry – gave it a lovely flavour and taste. The wine really benefited from being allowed to breathe and had a deep and inviting ruby colour.

The second wine that I tasted was a white from the Marche region of Italy, specifically from the area of Falerio. Saladini Pilastri have been making wine here since the year 1000 and are described as a noble family from Ascoli Piceno whose ancestors were priests and leaders. Whilst the vineyard has always tried to continue their history and combine the value and culture of their region, since 1994 they have embraced the future and the production has been officially labelled as organic wine. This was therefore one of my first proper tastings of an organic wine but in all honesty it didn’t taste any different to any other good Italian white, I simply found it to be a very pleasant and refreshing wine.

The wine is a blend of grapes from an ancient mixture of Trebbiano, Passerina and Pecorino. It is fresh and slightly citrus in style, I found it to have an almost sauvignon blanc-like taste. Unlike the modern preference for heavily flavoured whites, the wine was simple, not in a bad way, but it opened up as it warmed slightly so that the sharpness mellowed into more rounded flavours. It is a wine I’d happily enjoy on a warm English summer’s evening.

However, at the beginning of winter it complemented the pan-fried haddock my wife had prepared. As a philistine who adheres to the old adage that white wine is simply something you drink before you start on the red, I actually enjoyed it and would definitely drink it again.

The white Saladini Pilastri, Falerio 2013 is £8.99 and the red Trilogie, Weingut Wieninger 2011 is £15.99. Wines were kindly donated by Connolly’s Wine Merchants and can be brought from stores: Dovehouse, Connolly’s Wine Merchants Ltd, 379 – 381 Warwick Road, Olton, Solihull, B91 1BQ.
Tel: 0121 709 3734
Connolly’s Wine Merchants Ltd, Birmingham Livery Street, Birmingham, B3 1EU.
Tel: 0121 236 3837