The rain has come, which is always such a relief that I feel I should celebrate by putting my wellies on and going out on the decks and saying thank you to the rain gods.
Many years back, after being trapped in New York City in a blizzard with just my English brogues, I found myself in one of the few stores open in the storm, Beretta, which took pity on the poor Englishman walking around with plastic bags over his shoes. They were setting up for a sale and, being the only person they had seen all day, welcomed me with open arms and proceeded to offer me a plethora of rainy day items, which included a pair of Wellington boots. They were wonderful boots and fit like a glove, with just one problem -- they were Le Chameau, which are made in France! Can an Englishman wear Wellingtons made in France and walk about with a clean conscience? Weak kneed, I took a seat and looked out at the blizzard, and after much wringing of hands, made the fateful decision and bought them. They are, I have to admit, the best wellies I have ever owned. Now, multiple pairs later, I cannot see going back to Hunter (sorry!). It turns out, Le Chameau is the preferred wellies brand of HRH Kate, Princess of Wales. Nothing like royal approval to sooth the conscience!
Högl Grüner Veltliner Federspiel 2021 ($28) Our first wine this week is a reminder of how good these wellies are, as they kept my feet dry and me upright (they have great tread) visiting the vineyards of the Hogl family in Austria. It was a bitterly cold March day before the ProWein wine fair in Germany, and we walked these steep Sptizer Graben vineyards high above the Danube in pouring rain. 150 years back, these were very famous, before the industry began to focus on the lower slopes and these higher ones were almost forgotten, or simply relegated to house wine. In the last 20 years, however, this cool climate area has been brought back to life by families like Hogl. The complex granite, gneiss and the decomposed rock, which creates sandy topsoil, produces wines with wonderful mineral crispness and clean fresh fruit. This Gruner Veltliner has fresh orange blossoms, kumquat, mint, and lemon balm, which just races across the palate. I love this wonderful white alongside paté with fresh crusty bread or some liverwurst.
Walking over the mountain (maybe not in wellies) to Liguria in Italy, we stop for a visit to our friends at Bio Vio. Many of you have tried their great Vermentino, and this week we were wowed by their Rossese, made from the local red grape of the same name. Grown in lighter soil with some lenses of clay, this is a beautiful light coloured wine with lovely candied strawberry and cranberries on the nose. The palate is fresh and herbal, with dried strawberries and plums that are so interesting and delightful. For a lighter wine, it has lovely concentration, which immediately makes me think of spicy calabrese and other spicy sausages. I could have a plate full, chopped up and dripping with yummy juices. On their own or with pasta.
A brilliant, giant of a wine with lots of rich fruit and garrigue herbs. This is one for a chilly autumn night with some rich tenderloin of pork or something in that ilk.