Bespoke Boxes

Customers have been asking for a ‘Case of the Month’ for a while but I’ve always resisted as I’m not a fan of a one-size fits all approach – it’s not how we treat our customers in the shop and in a virtual world bursting at the seams with case ‘deals’ on wine I wanted to retain our uniqueness.

The point of difference when you visit our shop is the personal service. Usually I (Cat) am here, but on Sundays it’s Thom, Emma fills in where she can. We know what you drank last week, chances are that one of us recommended that wine to you and we have ideas of what you should try next.

A conversation with another business owner on a quiet rainy day got me thinking. He commented that buying wine is difficult, choosing wine for a dinner party doubly so. His words ‘sometimes it’s just easier to buy a bad, safe wine from the supermarket than think about it’ got me thinking – what if I could do that work for you? What if that dinner party wine was already in your wine rack at home?

This isn’t an entirely new concept; I’ve been regularly putting boxes of wine together for customers for many years. One friend simply sends me a text ‘more wine, 8 white, 2 fizz, 2 red, usual amount, I’m home on Friday’ – he trusts me to know what he will like and will request old favourites when he fancies them. He doesn’t use my website as it’s not personal enough, I hope this may change his mind!

How does this all work? Well, we do want to get to know you – initially we’ll want to know what you’ve enjoyed in the past (or indeed what you’ve hated so we can avoid those!) and ideally we’ll want to hear back from you on which of our wines you’ve particularly enjoyed once you’ve tried them.

This is designed to mimic the conversations we have with our customers every day, with the advantage that you don’t have to leave your sofa to build a relationship with us. Your comments will help me to tweak your next box. As the name suggests – every box will be bespoke!

We don’t expect this process to be time consuming. However, we know that this may not appeal to everyone, so we have also created two pre-mixed case options;

  1. Seasonal cases – a selection of wines we’re drinking tailored to the seasons, expect lots of big reds in winter and a selection of refreshing whites for our long, hot(!) summer days.
  2. Party cases – A selection of our most popular wines from the shop, food friendly but equally happy served up to your friends at your next social gathering.

Check out our current selection here

Toscanaccio’s top picks for Easter lamb

Lamb is a wine merchant’s dream for food matching – it’s equally at home with the great classics of the old world such as Chianti and Rioja as it is with the bolder, fruitier styles of Southern Europe and the new world.

To get a truly memorable match though some consideration should be given to the age of the lamb, how you’re preparing it, and whether you’re adding any other dominant flavours. This will still leave plenty of scope for us to work within your preferences and this for us is the most important thing. If you like an elegant Pinot Noir you’re probably not going to enjoy a Bordeaux in the same way, however much it may be the ‘perfect match’ so take these guidelines and adjust for your taste!

Young lamb/ lamb served pink

Young lamb has a mild flavour, and if you’re using a short cooking process this won’t have the depth of slow cooked meat. Unless you’re adding a rich jus or gravy you could stay at the lighter end of your comfort zone. Pinot Noir would be our top pick, we’re big fans of Poderi Colla’s Campo Romano Pinot Nero £21.20 which has a wonderful savoury note. It’s not Burgundy but it’s rather elegant and lovely. If you’re keeping the dish light and full of delicate spring flavours you could even go as far as a decent rose, and if bubbles are in order (the answer is always yes in our house!) then Ferghettina Franciacorta Rose £30.50 would be a great match – it’s a serious vintage Champagne-style wine that really shines with food.

Roast lamb

This is your classic lamb roast – it might be served a bit pink, but it has had a longer cooking time to allow more flavour to develop and it’s likely this is going to be served with a decent gravy. Now you can dial the wine up a notch – San Felice Il Grigio Chianti Classico Riserva £18.90 is a great choice if you don’t want to be too bold but a Bordeaux blend is generally what most people gravitate towards. For us, this means a supertuscan – we have quite a range in stock but Petra Hebo £18.90 is a Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend which is quite simply Bordeaux on steroids!

Slow roasted lamb/spice

Slow roasted lamb has a wonderful richness and a  slightly gamey character which calls for a wine with a bit more age, such as Castiglion del Bosco Brunello di Montalcino £46.80 which would be a fantastic, elegant match. Do pay attention to what you’re adding to the dish, for instance at home we use a fragrant spice rub on the lamb which means we’ll be looking for something with more richness – A decent Nero d’Avola or Primitivo wouldn’t go amiss here, such as Donnafugata’s Sherazade £15.50. If you’re using a decent whack of spice, or even firing up the BBQ then Poggio al Tesoro’s Mediterra £21.90 would be an absolute winner in our eyes.

New Wines for Spring – the verdict

Last week we presented a selection of new wines to our tasting group. Gathered in the waning heat of the hottest April day since 1949 it felt more like summer than the early days of spring so we were trying these wines with the great outdoors in mind – alfresco dining, BBQs and picnics. Let’s hope that glorious weather returns soon!

The Wines:

Monte Schiavo Pallio di San Floriano Verdicchio di Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore DOC £12.40

This was the perfect start – incredibly zesty and fresh this brought our hot and weary tasting group to life! ‘Tastes like it should be a sparkling wine’ perfect refreshment for a sunny afternoon.

Pieropan Soave Classico DOC £16

The favourite white of the evening – wonderfully elegant with a delightful rounded fruit that lingers through the almond finish. Under screw cap (controversially for Soave – Pieropan fought hard for the right to use the closure) this is a definite winner.

Curatolo Arini Zibibbo IGP £18.40

A bit of a wildcard – with its perfumes of rose or ‘turkish delight’ it’s a bold wine! The palate shows rich, ripe stone fruit with a surprisingly elegant finish. This wine was a bit of a hit for it’s uniqueness – we’ll have stock of this arriving in the next few weeks.

Terrazze della Luna Pinot Grigio Rosato Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT £9.30

Very pretty pink in colour and delicate on the nose, the palate shows a surprisingly intense array of red berry fruit. Crisp and dry on the finish this will be the perfect picnic partner when the sunshine arrives!

Montresor San Pietro Valpolicella DOP £11.80

A very fresh, crunchy cherry filled Valpolicella which slipped down rather easily with the group – for those really warm days this wine will be even better lightly chilled. The group were very keen (!) on both reds, but this one inched ahead slightly.

Vallone Susumaniello Salento Rosso IGP £12

This wine is shaping up to be our summer BBQ red – plump and ripe red berry fruit but with a balancing acidity on the finish to keep this wine fresh and vibrant. Susumaniello (that’s the grape) means ‘little donkey’ possibly due to the heavy load the vines bear (or possibly its stubbornness about where it grows…!)

Shop Ho – Ho – Ho-pening times.

Because we have not yet perfected the technology to have 24×7 wine retailing robots looking after the shop, we are going to be having some down time over Christmas.

Therefore the Christmas opening times will be:

Tuesday 20th – Friday 23rd    11am – 7pm

Saturday 24th (Christmas Eve) – 9am – 5pm

Sunday 25th – Tuesday 27th – CLOSED

Wednesday 28th – Friday 30th – 11am – 6pm

New Year’s Eve – 10am – 5pm

And because we will be going on a well deserved post-Christmas-rush holiday the shop will be closed following new year for a week

Sunday 1st – Friday 6th – CLOSED

Saturday 7th Jan 2017 – 10am – 7pm

Sunday 8th – Monday 9th – Closed

Back to Normal from Tuesday 10th Jan

Customer’s Choice tasting – the winners (part 1)

Customer Choice winners - reds

Just over a month ago a group of our trusted customers (I’m excluding you – man who commented only on the cheese….) sat down with six brand new red wines and decided which ones would become a permanent part of the Toscanaccio range.

In the end they picked four reds, chosen for their fruit character, drinkability (with and without the cheese!), structure, and of course their value for money.

The favourite of the evening was Louis M Martini Sonoma County Cabernet Sauvignon at £13.70, it was described, oddly, as “like being embraced in a huge rabbit’s armpit (in a good way)” erm, ok. Moving on swiftly to what everyone else thought…. Sloe and Damson fruit on the nose, hints of clove and vanilla with a peppery note. The palate is rich and meaty with ripe, dark berry fruit, spicy oak, definitely one for some food.

Masseria Surani Ares Rosso at £10.20 was next – highly praised for its quality at the price. A highly expressive nose reminiscient of black forest gateaux with a bold palate of smooth hedgerow fruit with a structured finish (let it breathe) “right up my alley, get me 2!”

Bodegas Arraez Vivir Sin Dormir at £10.80 was the next hit, the name translates as ‘to live without sleep’ – it seemed apt that a customer had written “(I’d enjoy this) late night (at a) festival around a fire”. Aromas a-plenty of cherry, blackberry and raspberry. The palate is warming and spicy with rich, dark berry fruit and a note of vanilla on the finish.

Last but by no means least (there was a difference of only five points between this and the winner, it was still a full 10 points ahead of the wines which didn’t make it through) we have Rapaura Springs Pinot Noir at £14.50 – broad aromas of liqueur cherry, blackberry and liquorice with a fresh, cherry-laden palate “tons of fruit” and a delicious, baked fruit ripeness.

All of the wines are in stock – click on the product names to be taken to their pages for more info.

Our next wine tasting is Thursday 5th May and we’ll be trying some more new wines – so get over to our booking page now and be the first to try them!

Christmas Opening Hours 2015

Christmas and New Year Opening

Until 23rd December:

Monday-Saturday – 10am-7pm

Sunday – 11am-4pm

 

Christmas Eve – 9am-5pm

Christmas Day-28th December – Closed

29th/30th December – 11am-6pm

New Year’s Eve – 10am-5pm

New Year’s day – 8th Jan – Closed

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all our customers and friends. Thanks for all your custom and support!

Opening Hours – Toscanaccio Summer Break

With August now upon us (where is the year going?!) it is time for us to take a short break to recharge the batteries!

We’ll be closed from 9th – 13th August inclusive, you’ll be able to browse the range online and buy tasting tickets but no orders will be shipped out until Tuesday 18th August – apologies for any inconvenience.

Opening Hours 3rd – 9th August

Monday 3rd: CLOSED

Tuesday 4th -Saturday 8th: 10am – 7pm

Sunday 9th: CLOSED

Opening Hours 10th – 16th August

Monday 10th -Thursday 13th: CLOSED

Friday 14th – Saturday 15th: 10am – 7pm

Sunday 16th: CLOSED

Normal opening hours resume from 17th August

Spaghetti alla carbonara

Recipe – Spaghetti Carbonara

Carbonara is one of my go-to dishes for a quick supper – comforting, simple to prepare and always well received.

Carbonara has to be one of the simplest dishes and yet it’s the cause of much debate – cream or not? The full egg or just the yolk? One thing seems certain to me – Italians do not use cream in their recipe so ditch it from your dinner and try the real Italian Carbonara!

Over the years I’ve tested many different methods and I’ve finally settled on this, my definitive recipe.

A few notes;

– I use spaghetti by default but any long, thin shape will do.

– It’s worth investigating guanciale (pig cheek, we sell a lovely peppered version) – the fat renders down during cooking giving lovely flavour to the sauce.

Guanciale al pepe

– Eggs, use fresh and free range. I use only the yolk but feel free to use the whites too (I save them to make meringues). I find I get creamier results my way with a lower tendency for it to scramble.

– Truffle pecorino will turn this dish into something very special!

Recipe (feeds two)

200g spaghetti

a dash of olive oil

50g guanciale or pancetta

2 egg yolks

50g gran pecorino (or truffle pecorino), grated

Method:

Put a large pan of salted water on the boil, once at a rolling boil add the spaghetti and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, chop the guanciale or pancetta into small pieces and fry in a dash of olive oil on a medium heat. Once golden in colour take the pan off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Whisk the egg yolks in a separate dish with half the grated pecorino.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain (reserving a ladle of the cooking water) and add the pasta to the guanciale pan and mix. Let this cool for about a minute and stir through the egg mixture (DO NOT apply any further heat or you will scramble the eggs). At this stage, add a dash of the pasta water to loosen the sauce then tip out onto warmed plates and garnish with the remaining gran pecorino and a dash of pepper.

The wine match? For me, it’s got to be the fresh vitality of Gavi, try our Gavi Conchetta at £9.60, crunchy green apple and limey fruit with a wonderfully dry, mineral finish.

Buon Appetito!

Spaghetti alla carbonara

 

 

 

New Arrivals – reds

New Arrivals - Reds

Last week, our trusted customer tasting panel sat down with six brand new red wines (almost, but let’s not delve into the mysteries of missing stock). The fate of these wines was in their hands – would they survive to become part of the permanent range?

There were four lucky survivors – praised for their structure, fruit character, drinkability and of course – well priced.

The favourite of the evening, inching into pole position by one point was Vesevo Aglianico at £12 liked for its smooth, jammy plum fruit, hints of spice mingling with winter fruit coulis. As one customer put it “I could drink a lot of this wine. Quickly”

Tufarello Nero di Troia, also at £12 was the next hit. Labelled as “interesting” and “like a box of chocolates” the sweet, ripe fruit with savoury, earthy undertones was an instant hit.

Cantina Goccia’s Nodo at £15.90 was the next hit – though the room became a little more divided over this one as it had a lot more poise and tannic structure which not everyone was a fan of. Spicy plum fruit on the nose and noticeably older then the other wines the palate had ripe cherry fruit and a touch of leather. Definitely a food wine – the general consensus was that it would be great with a roast. My favourite customer comment has to be “my mouth is happy”!

We had a little bit of a debate over Hecula Monastrell £9.50, it didn’t score as high as the others but it was felt that it had been rated unfairly originally. It has “more legs than a spider” and is rich and oaky with complex layers of rustic blackberry fruit, olives and black pepper.

Stock of all these wines is now available in store or online – click the name links to be taken directly to the product pages for more information.

If you’re interested in being on the panel for our Customer Choice – Whites tasting on 30th April then book your place now!

Winter Warmers Wine Tasting

Last Thursday we resumed our fortnightly tastings by delving into a selection of Winter Warming reds. Even though they’re easy to love when it’s cold outside we were surprised at just *how* well they went down!

The three sell outs of the evening were;

Guelbenzu Azul, Ribera del Queiles, Spain £11.80 – this is one of Thom’s favourite wines so we had to show it! An oaked Tempranillo blend this is ripe, rich and toasty, well liked for having a wonderful balance between old world style and new world body.

Varvaglione Negroamaro, Puglia, Italy £11 – proving rather popular at the moment with its super smooth, silky berry fruit. This caught many people out – assuming that it was new world! A great one to try to ease yourself into Italian reds.

Dandelion Vineyards Lionheart of the Barossa Shiraz, Australia £12.70 – a seriously good old vine Shiraz with concentrated fruit and fine tannic structure. New world but with lots of class were the comments from our tasters!

More stock of these wines will be in next week, get your pre-orders in now as we don’t expect them to stick around for long!

Click here for tickets to our next tasting on 5th March – six brand new reds, you decide if we stock them!