Author: 安迪風|Anty Fung Page 1 of 23

Etna Rosso:我為火山灰著迷

位於意大利西西里島東北部的Mount Etna,最近於去年十二月初再次爆發,西西里的星空提早擦上聖誕的紅。這個一百萬歲的火山,是歐洲最大和最活躍的火山。世代面對Mount Etna炙熱火爆的脾性,西西里島民看來沒半點怯意。今日, 百分之二十五西西里島民落戶Mount Etna火山山腳。在400多至1100米的山腰處,另有一群平均扎根50年以上的原居「藤」,Nerello Mascalese、Nerello Cappuccio、Carricante、Catarratto等。Etna Rosso法定產區的紅酒,以Nerello Mascalese為主要混釀成份,把火山灰的礦物香,傳譯於酒液之中。

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活火山前聳處的葡萄田,寥是壯觀 (hotel-laperla.it)

如斯偏門的葡萄酒,除了為好奇搜試,有不少忠誠擁躉最初衝著Etna Rosso獨有的火山灰Terroir風土味道而來,試後愛不惜「口」。初試Etna Rosso,首推今逾三十年歷史Tenuta delle Terre Nere 的基本紅酒 Etna Rosso(Xtrawine.com: HK$197),嚐的是 Nerello Mascalese及Nerello Cappuccio混釀的熟紅菓香及明顯的火山土的焦香。追求複雜性較高的可考慮同莊的單一田作品 Calderara Sottana (Xtrawine.com: HK$348)或其風報用上黑幫老大教父「Don Peppino」的葡萄田命名的頂級作。

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2008 Tenuta delle Terre Nere Prehylloxera La Vigna di Don Peppino

同區亦有不少具性格的釀酒師,先說 Frank Cornelissen。他的釀酒理念及方法, 以完全不干預大自然為根本。與其說他是釀酒師, 不如說他是Nerello Mascalese等Etna Rosso品種的農夫,他的葡萄酒不過是放置數年至數十年也不變壞的純天然葡萄汁。生於比利時的他於2001 年買了數塊老藤橫生的葡萄田,寧不拔根重植, 反而做好老藤保育,取老藤菓量少但質素高之利。採收後讓葡萄汁液純以附在葡萄皮上的天然酵母發酵,不用木桶陳年,反用400公升內層塗上無味樹脂的紅陶大缸,缸頸以下埋於火山土下陳釀,入樽前完全不澄清,不過濾,不保鮮。如斯原始自然卻不會變壞,這難不成是上乘葡萄汁?熟而雅淨的車厘子菓香,緊而不澀的丹寧,沒半分natural wine 常有的髒土味。

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Magma Rosso並無酒標,只由莊主頗有霸氣用紅油手繪Magma一字 (Source: trovino.it)

耐性子的找他年產1300瓶的頂級作Magma Rosso (2013年份,Sommelier at Home: HK$2160) 存上十年半載再喝。顧名思義, Magma Rosso要你嚐的是有若熔岩般澎湃的味道和酒體。性急的別去惹十來歲以下的Magma Rosso了,基礎酒Munjebel (Sommelier at Home: HK$450),年輕年份置醒酒器中一小時多,已見真章。

Champagne 和Coteaux Champenois:爭「氣」孖兄弟

提起Champagne,大家的腦袋中旋即浮現的大概是節日或特別日子跟眾友人或心上人舉杯共酌的片段──法語中謂之Joie de vivre,且譯為生活逸趣 。19世紀初,香檳酒坊著力灌輸香檳區氣泡酒就是那沾著貴氣、予人愉悅時光的葡萄酒選擇,奏效至今。1936年,香檳區成功爭取立法保護香檳氣泡酒的生產範圍、方法、技藝過程等。今日,提起香檳,大可省略氣泡酒三個字 ﹣ 香檳跟氣泡酒彷已劃上等號。

寥人知曉的是香檳區的孖兄弟 Coteaux Champenois。法定地理範圍跟香檳區完全一樣的 Coteaux Champenois,在1974年成立,包含來自香檳區「沒有氣泡」的一眾干紅、干白及玫瑰酒。香檳區自14世紀中世紀時代開始有釀酒記錄,那時候釀的是呈玫瑰酒顏色及口感的紅酒。 礙於700多年前氣候過涼的關係,當年的香檳區干紅,相對向南不過二百多公里外的Burgundy,見是失色。

香檳氣泡酒於200多年後出現,熟為人知的Dom Perignon 修士窮一生大大提升氣泡酒釀製技術,但也待他死後百多年,香檳區釀造氣泡酒的潮流才成氣候。

Coteaux Champenois這個較 Champagne晚了四十年才被法律認可及保護的產區,論釀酒歷史更見悠久,論名聲卻又差得遠矣,難兄難弟。

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Benoit Lahaye Coteaux Champenois Bouzy Rouge (Source: Vivino.com)

Coteaux Champenois「沒有氣泡」的葡萄酒中, 以紅酒生產為主,用上Pinot Noir釀製,產量之少,讓這酒款難於海外市場找到。全球暖化,讓香檳酒農更易維繫該區久遠的傳統,釀造那酸度清爽,菓風輕盈,濃郁車厘子香的Pinot Noir。為好奇一試的,Paul Bara Coteaux Champenois Bouzy Rouge NV (Cru World Wine: $240) 及Benoit Lahaye Coteaux Champenois Bouzy Rouge 2011 (Wineworld: HK$310) 是性價比高的選擇。大家較熟悉的007 占士邦酒莊 Bollinger,出品Coteaux Champenois La Cote Aux Enfants 2009 (Ginsberg+Chan: HK$600),屬酒體較飽滿的例子。

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Bollinger Coteaux Champenois La Cote Aux Enfants (Source: Vivino.com)

其餘經典的選擇,恐怕只好有待大家下回法國之旅,搜購Larmandier Bernier Coteaux Champenois Vertus Rouge 1er Cru,以及Louis Roederer 自2015年起新釀的Coteaux Champenois Mareuil-sur-Ay Rouge。

待友人再搞 Champagne wine dinner,是時候帶上一支來自Coteaux Champenois的黑馬之選了。

Photo Credit:
http://www.vivino.com
http://www.wineterroirs.com

文章初載於AM730

Modern-day Glamping Gypsy

If you own a dictionary that you bought more than five years ago, chances are under letter G, the word “Glamping” has yet to set down its roots in the jungle of dictionary-worthy English words. Born a buzzword, this lovechild of “glamour” and “camping” found favour with modern-day travellers. Once a species of outdoor sport, camping has reincarnated into a bohemian form of travel: Glamping. Last month I found myself in the heart of England, sniffing out the best of Glamping gems, while turning away from conventional luxury housed within hotels and inns.

“Off the beaten path” is the leitmotif of Glamping. The Ninks, host of our first Glamping destination, forewarned us that GPS will not get us to our quaint, circa-1920s bohemian circus wagon. We were given very detailed instructions, and as we slowly drove through one hamlets after another. Like orienteers we scan for signs and marks described, before arriving at the Ninks’ beautiful farm property in the village of English Frankton. Right by the stable farm buildling erects the 1920s Nink’s wagon which has now retired from circus life and become a Glamping hotspot for curious travellers and nostalgic circus performers.

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Fascinating interior of Nink’s Wagon!

It was well into twilight hours when we arrived. The receding glow of dusk outlined the undulating countryside. The very lovely Mrs. Nink has switched on the exterior festive lights, bohemian lamps and walled chandeliers within the wagon, and made a crackling fire in the metal fireplace for us. We spared no time to start exploring the wagon. It was no large space but the dainty decor of almost a century worth of memories and stories of people whom have travelled and lived in this circus wagon that captivated our attention. Mrs. Nink herself was once a ringmaster herself, and Nink’s Wagon was her home years back. A modest selection of modern equipments were brought into the wagon to preserve the vintage look and feel: microwave, kettle, toaster and an outdoor fire pit BBQ stove for those whom crave having a grill or roasted marshmallows likewise.

Waking up next morning is no easy feat. The cozy warm down blanket and fluffy mattresses promised amazing rest. Right behind Nink’s Wagon is the stable farm building where the Ninks kept their Appaloosa horses and Shetland ponies. Save some carrots and you are sure to receive a very warm welcome from these handsome friends whom definitely have a weakness for crunchy treats!

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Tanner’s Wine Merchant flagship store on Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury, part of the structure date back to 1490s and is recognized Grade 2 heritage building by the UK government!

Despite being unplottable by GPS, Glamping at Nink’s Wagon is far from putting ourselves in the middle of nowhere. Mrs. Nink helpfully drew up maps for us, highlighting Shrewsbury and Llangollen as the best two towns to visit, both just about an hour’s drive away from the wagon. Boasting well-preserved medieval abbeys and churches, Shrewsbury is a charming, quintessentially English, county town that appears to have found its way to balance the almost unstoppable influx of commercial brands with a wealth of independently operated small businesses. As wine lovers nothing is more exciting than visiting the flagship store of a century old wine merchant – Shrewsbury was the cradle of 143-year-old Tanner’s Wine Merchant. The Shrewsbury Market Hall is another hidden jewel where you can buy anything from local cheeses to cloche hats!

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Quintessentially Welsh town Llangollen in a sun-drenched late afternoon!

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Take a steam train ride (to enjoy with lots of cream teas!) to and fro Llangollen and the town of Corwen – end of this month marks the 150th anniversary of this line!

A trip to the enchanting Welsh town Llangollen ended our Nink’s Wagon experience on a high note. The Ninks welcomed us into their farmhouse for a cup of tea before we set off with Mr. Nink to Llangollen, the birthplace of Mrs. Nink. With just about 4000 residents, Llangollen sits on River Dee, which runs through the heart of the town, separating the bustling main street and the icon restaurant The Corn Mill from the steam train station and access to historical trails that bring you up to the medieval ruins of Castell Dinas Bran.

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A quick 30-minute hike up to the hill to reach the ruins of Castell Dinas Bran where it perchs proudly over the town of Llangollen since 12th century!

Before departure we stopped by Mr. Nink’s specialty furniture shop on the Main Street, and were greeted by the jovial company of his friendly neighbors. Not surprisingly, from them we discovered a handful landmarks that warrant a second visit to this small, yet filled with historical and natural wonders, town. “In five, or even ten years’ time, you will come back and find Llangollen exactly the same as it is now,” remarked the bespectacled jolly lady, whom run the cafe next door. I surely hope so, for the charm of Llangollen is timeless.

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The charming Mr. Nink and his little shop in Llangollen. Shopkeeping is just a pastime when he is not with Mrs. Nink sipping tea in their beautiful home in English Frankton!

Next up, we will travel deeper into Northern Wales, exploring the beautiful Llyx Peninsula, where I stumbled over the Lord of the Rings-inspired Glamping village. We stayed in the trademarked concept EyePod, a lovely stargazing-friendly pod; neighbour of two equally interesting structures: The Hobbits.

Summary of Features

Nink’s Wagon
English Frankton, Ellesmere, Shropshire
http://www.qualityunearthed.co.uk/accommodation/wagons/showmans-wagon-ellesmere

Shrewsbury’s Highlights
Tanner’s Wine Merchant
26 Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY1 1XD
http://www.tanners-wines.co.uk/

Shrewsbury Market Hall
The Market Hall, Claremont Street, Shrewsbury, SY1 1QG
http://www.markethallshrewsbury.co.uk/

Shrewsbury Abbey
Abbey Foregate, Shrewsbury SY2 6BA
http://www.shrewsburyabbey.com/

Llangollen’s Highlights
Castell Dinas Bran
Llangollen, Denbighshire, Northeast Wales
http://www.castlewales.com/dinas.html

Llangollen Steam Train Railway
Llangollen Railway, The Station, Abbey Road, Llangollen, Denbighshire, LL208SN
http://www.llangollen-railway.co.uk/the-line/

The Corn Mill Restaurant
The Corn Mill, Dee Lane, Llangollen, LL20 8PN
http://www.brunningandprice.co.uk/cornmill/homepage/

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