Durello wine range launch at OtherSyde is a UK first
A new variety of drink that sits between a prosecco and champagne – from the Durello grape grown in volcanic soil in northern Italy – is now available for the first time in the UK thanks to a Cambridge-based wine distributor.
Gaby Reniero and Annabel Jones, who run Bubbly Bandits, are behind the ingenious plan to import the Durello range of wines and Bruts from Monti Lessini, a district in the province of Verona and 30km north-west of Vicenza.
Gaby spends half her time in Cambridge and half in Vicenza, her father’s home town. Before an inaugural tasting evening at the OtherSyde bar by the Cam she and her Italian partner, Alberto Tonello, a food and wine correspondent for the Il Giornale di Vicenza newspaper, talked through the origins and qualities of the range.
“The Durello area in pre-history was sea,” explains Gaby. “It’s full of fossils – it has the biggest fossil museum in Europe, and that accounts for the saltiness of the taste of the grape.”
Indeed, the hills on which the vines grow are layers of rock formed by lava flows, and the soil is dark, stony and rich in minerals and fossil deposits.
“Originally the Durello was a grape that grew in that area. For about 50 years it was sent off to other wineries to add taste to their wine, then they stopped selling it and started their own range with a sparkling wine, and it’s gone from there – it’s new, interesting, high quality and affordable.”
Alberto adds: “It tastes like a well structured prosecco. The grapes are grown on volcanic soil, which adds acidity, minerals and a saltiness to the flavour.
“Their main quality is longevity: some are 10 years old, and that’s comparable to some Champagnes. Some can last for 30 years: Champagnes last between 10 and 40 years but a reserve Kruger is priced at £500 and a reserve Durello is £50 – and the quality is comparable. In blind tests some wine experts believed it was a new kind of Champagne.”
There are five Durello bottles available at launch:
- Valdal Extra Brut metodo classico (the classic champenoise method, used to make Champagne): a blend of ribolla gialla and chardonnay grapes, ideal for apperitives, £22
- GianniTessari Lessini Durello Extra Brut metodo classico 60 months: a Durello sparkling wine produced using the champenoise method. The wine rests on yeasts for five years, £30
- GianniTessari Lessini Durello Brut metodo classico 36 months: elegant transparent bottle, “ideal for apperitives and also 100 per cent Durello grapes”. This wine rests on yeasts for three years, £25
- GianniTessari Rosé sparkling metodo classico: a mix of Durello and Pinot Noir grapes – “an intriguing colour and very aromatic”. Ideal with fish, £25; and
- GianniTessari Alpone Brut Durello: a young Durello obtained by a long charmat method, “great with fish and chips”, £25.
Bubbly Bandits started last May, though delivery difficulties meant the arrival of the range on these shores were delayed. Annabel lives in Milton.
“My dad is from Vicenza, and my mum is from London,” Gaby says. “I first came to Cambridge because when I had children they were sent to friends in Cambridge during the summer, and I kept the connection with Annabel.”
All the wines are at least two years old: some are three, and the Extra Brut is five. Deliveries take one month.
Commenting on the occasion, Dale Suttle, a bar manager at OtherSyde, said: “It was really good to try new wines, they were lovely – a nice eclectic array of wines, young and old, from the Durello region. It was great they were so knowledgeable.
“We do reds, whites and rosé from Cambridge Wine Merchants and hopefully they can expand our knowledge and we can help expand theirs as well.”
Bubbly Bandits’ Annabel says: “Our mission is to promote and sell niche sparkling wines selected from a range of small and medium-sized family-owned Italian wineries who value the traditional wine making skills and methods.
“We have started tastings with potential clients in Cambridge and London. The interest and feedback in these unknown wines has been overwhelmingly positive, from wine merchants, bars, restaurants and private individuals alike.”