So, what do we like to do when we’re not in the restaurant? Trying new wines has to be top of the list, we’re passionate about bringing the best and most exciting wines into our cellar.

Berkmann Portfolio Tasting

That’s why we don’t need asking twice when our suppliers invite us to events, we get to discover amazing wines, taste new vintages and meet the producers. Here’s a little peek at where we have been most recently and what you can look forward to on your next visit to Rimini.

The Berkmann London Portfolio event was showcasing over 450 wines from 19 countries, and we have to admit, we did try some very good wines from Chile and Argentina, but of course we confess to spending most of our time in the Italian zone! It’s always such a pleasure to meet up with old friends and taste the passion, heart and soul that goes into every single wine that is produced – each one tells its own story.

Tignanello from Antinori

Let’s start big – it was a struggle to get to the Antinori table, everyone eager to taste the latest vintage but perhaps above all, to try the famous Tignanello, king of the Super Tuscans (see our Super Tuscans blog). Although this term is an unofficial category, it’s widely recognised and Tignanello is perhaps the most famous. Back in 1971, this caused some controversy when it was the first contempory wine to be blended with untraditional grape varieties and aged in oak barrels. It’s a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc making it an intense, ruby red colour with tinges of purple highlights. This wine is intense on the nose, rising out of the glass with ripe fruits and aromas of sweet spices. On the palate, the flavours are fresh, with notes of chocolate but beautifully balanced tannins. The finish is long and sustained and the 2014 vintage is purely delightful which makes it a perfect match for steak, but be brave! The Sangiovese characteristic and tannins crave succulence so order it as rare as you can take it – we guarantee it’s one of the best pairings you can try.

Now for something new. Have you ever wondered why the restaurant is called Rimini when Fabio and I are from Sicily? Well, Rimini is a place very dear to us as we spent all our childhood holidays on the beaches there. The area of Le Marche is truly beautiful and just along the coast is a town called Pesaro, home to the Mancini vineyards and winery.

Mancini pinot noir

We met up with Luigi Mancini at the Berkmann event and had a wonderful time tasting his Roncaglia and Sangiovese, but what really stood out for us was his latest vintage Focara Pinot Noir. This wine is stunning, ruby in colour with slight garnet reflections and beautiful aromas of violets and black cherries. To taste, it’s super well-balanced with fruity notes and hints of vanilla, smooth tannins and an overall crisp finish. We liked this one so much we’ll be bringing it to the restaurant, so watch out for it. This wine has a freshness that cuts right across oily dishes so we think it would be a treat with our pesce spada al forno or pollo crema e funghi. If you really like this, we think we’ll be introducing more of Mancini’s wines to our list so watch this space.

A restauranteur’s work is never done….

After a very good day at the Berkmann event, we moved on to our next supplier day with Passione Vino. What can we say? These guys know how to connect their producers with their customers, making it successful for everyone but with masses of flair and fun thrown in too. The absolute best that Italy has to offer, with small producers showcasing their wines alongside legends in the Italian wine industry. We were so excited about this day, it was tough to know where to start when we walked in, but we managed it, kicking off with a visit to our favourite, La Montina.

La Montina’s beautiful rainbow

If you’ve read our sparkling wine blog you’ll know a bit about Franciacorta already. We tasted all our favourites, even the “Satèn” which really is divine, and if you would like to try it – ask for it next time you’re in the restaurant.

Next in line was Meroni, producer of a classic favourite – Amarone Velluto which is an Amarone della Valpolicella. This is one of the most sophisticated wines from the Valpolicella region (Venice), although there are 5 levels of Valpolicella wine including classic, superior, superior ripasso and recioto which is quite a rare dessert wine. There are 4 grapes of Amarone – Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, Molinara which go through a very unique method of production. The key here is that the grapes are dried to less than 40% liquid which is a process called “apassimento” and can take up to 120 days, resulting in a very high sugar content, so Amarone wines are always at least 15% abv. Amarone Velluto is smooth and rich (velluto means velvet in Italian), the wine is matured in 30 year old barrels for 5 years and the result is incredible – rich, smooth, full in the mouth with notes of mocha, spices, tobacco and dried fruit but still enough freshness to keep it balanced.

Drinking Amarone Velluto with Carlo Meroni

We love Amarone della Valpolicella, so much so that we do offer an alternative from Antolini, who we also caught up with at the event. Tasting as good as ever, this wine has intense aromas of black, jammy fruits and dried roses with notes of chocolate, sweet spices and some earthy, barky tendencies. Amarone wines go very well with meats, we would suggest our mixed grilled meats or fillet steak.

We’ve done all the hard work at these events so that we can bring you the best of what we know and anticipation of what is new. What can you try from our shopping expedition on your next visit to Rimini?

Tignanello: Super-Tuscan legend, well-balanced, fresh and long, full of fruit and spices and perfect with a rare steak. Make this a treat for a special occasion, it’s not our cheapest wine but it’s worth every penny.

Focara Pinot Noir: smooth and fresh, heaps of cherries and raspberries, simple, straightforward drinking to have with chicken or white meat fish.

Amarone della Valpolicella: Warm, full-bodied, robust, intense. A definite must if you’ve never tasted Amarone before, even just enjoy it on its own to appreciate the complexity and results of the apassimento.