Part of my heart is in my home town, Bordeaux. I grew up surrounded by the wine heritage and cannot think of a family gathering that was not celebrated with a grand cru. As a child, I would beg for a few drops in my glass of water, the ruby tint fading away in pink ribbons. It is, however, England that taught me what other countries could do. I remained loyal to my beloved Sauternes but happily go on a world travel. At uni, evenings were sparkled with Australian and South African sweet wines. I lated fell for sunny riojas. Agentinian Malbec stole my heart at Gaucho.
My latest love is an Italian treasure, Visciolata del Cardinale. Its secret? Sour cherries, viscioles, infused in Carbernet Sauvignon. Surprising. Beautiful aroma of red fruit and cacao. The chocolatey rich taste remains on the tastebuds, lingers there. This sweet wine just calls to be sipped – in the garden enjoying the last rays of sunshine, in front of the chimney, just chatting away, confiding, gossiping, whisspering, laughing aloud. It makes the instant last longer, better. As sherry in the 1950ies, it will be a perfect addiction ot an afternoon tea. It will also sublime vanilla ice creams, floral deserts, dried fruit, plum crumbles… I recently made a sorbet of it, which I served wih a litchee pannacotta – to die for.
Luxury hotel bars have now adopted it – you will find it in gorgeous cocktail created by the Savoy, the Connaught (in an alliance with vodka, yuzu and pineapple), the Berkely, the Langham… You can also buy it at La Fromagerie oor order it on line here.
Super Cherry, who distribute this in England, also proposes those lovely viscioles in jars. Kept in a velevety sugar syrup, they immediately make you feel like cooking. Will you serve them with a strong meat such as venison? Will you use it to moisten your trifle biscuity base? Will you invent a new chocolate desert that will make the Sacher Torte pale with envy? They prove verry addictive and much nicer than the kirsch griotte I was so fond of. Add a few to a glass of champagne for a more elegant alternative to the Kir royal.
Wrapped individualies in tissue paper, they make adorable gifts. Special award to the Tondo, with its airy heart flavoured with the Visciolata wine. I just had to close my eyes and smile in total bliss. The Liquorino will take you by surprise - it explodes in your mouth! It hides a little Ammalia Aquavite, a grappa infused with the same cherries. Let me tell you, you will never touch a Mon cheri again. The dark chocolate used is top quality and nicely fruity.
Another surprise - the Lonzetto di fico - a very clever mix of figs, almonds, walnuts, rum, aniseed. Serve it with an espresso, try to hide or you will have to share it. I prefer to be selfish with that one... Your tastebuds will thank me.
Look out for all of those on menus!