Fourteen years ago we at Zambri’s helped to put Prosecco on the map in Victoria. At that time there was only one dusty bottle sitting on the shelves at the local liquor store. We started offering a five course tasting menu every Saturday night and we included a glass of Prosecco. Many people had never even heard of this light sparkling wine from the north of Italy. It became an instant hit to the point that the Manager of the local liquor store demanded to know what we were doing over at Zambri’s because he had never seen somany customers asking for Prosecco. Now you can easily find ten different types of Prosecco on the shelves.
Prosecco is actually the name of the wine and it’s legal designation. So, just like Champagne, no one can call a wine Prosecco unless it is made in a specific way in a specific region called the Veneto in the North East of Italy.It differs from Champagne in that it is made in the Charmat or Tank method where the secondary fermentation (where the bubbles come from) happens in a tank rather than in the bottle itself. This makes the wine somewhat lighter both in body and taste but also on the pocketbook.
My favorite Prosecco this summer is the Riondo Prosecco which is currently on sale at many government liquor stores for just $11.99 before tax. It is great just by itself and we had it for lunch with a fresh tomato and bocconcini salad. Light and crisp and slightly off dry, a perfect summer sipper.
Today we are open. What does it mean? Although we sell product we are not a store. Our studio is in our home and our product is mostly displayed in our back yard. Sometimes it feels odd to have people, potential customers, in a space that is so intimately ours. Last weekend this yard was the site of our annual Summer Solstice party. It was full of all our friends wearing wreaths and making toasts.
This week the same space is where we chose to showcase our products and talk to people about our work. Although sometimes it is hard to invite strangers into your space, there is a definite upside to this. Most of the work we do is custom and the process we enter into with people must be based on mutual trust. What better way to start this process than to meet in our studio space surrounded by examples of past work.
Last week we sold this insect house to a customer who decided it was the perfect frame for an air plant. We love this look!
Little creatures need homes but why do they all have to be so rustic? My partner Dita has tackled this problem head on with a range of creature houses that are anything but. First she designed bird houses that are so unique and functional they are a pleasure to view but provide a safe and happy home for a nest of baby birds in our back yard. So what is different about our design? Well first, she uses clear cedar and adds design details like square holes and a cantilevered roof. The front door swings open for ease of cleaning and the houses come stained in two different finishes, clear and either green or red.
But she did not stop here. What about Owls? What about Insects? Why should they suffer with unattractive housing?
Not only are these designs safe and functional but they provide a delightful piece of art to view in your garden. The insect houses above are awaiting their stuffing. That is the pine cones, moss and underbrush that make them desirable to insects. Once ready they will be on sale Saturdays from 11-3 in our Studio located at 2221 Fernwood Rd. in Victoria B.C. We will be opening Studio Hours on Saturdays starting on June 20, 2015. Entrance is on Denman St. You will know you are in the right place when you see this sign.
I spent the last two weeks tasting probably 80 bottles of Italian Wine. I attended a Tre Bichierri tasting in Vancouver where only the very elite of Italian wines were presented. In addition I attended several focused tastings and dinners as so many amazing Italian winemakers were in town for this event. Now I know some of you think of this as your dream job. But really any of you who do this for a living know that it really is exhausting work. For one thing, it is not like you are sitting down having dinner and a glass of wine with your friends. You are often in a very large and noisy room full of people who want to sell you something. Tasting and spitting, tasting and spitting, and trying to separate one wine from the other, thinking of food pairings and price and how this could work in your restaurant.
Yet of course there are those magical moments, often really seconds when a wine really reaches out and grabs you. Here are my best three picks of the last week.
I had the great honor to attend a dinner hosted by Dream Wines at Cinara Restaurant in Vancouver. The guest of honor was Sylvia Franco from Nino Franco Winery in the Veneto and the food was to be paired only with Prosecco. I love Prosecco and I was excited to see how an entire seven course meal could be paired with this Italian sparkling wine. Some of the pairings were a bit risky but the one that was truly outstanding was the Brut Valdobbiandene Prosecco Superiore paired with Spot Prawns topped with herb bread crumbs.
I always tell my staff that a truly good wine pairing is when the combination of the food and the wine elevates them both to greater heights. This truly happened here. This is not their most expensive prosecco but it’s deceptive softness with a backbone of bracing acidity was a perfect foil for the richness of the prawns and the crunch of the crust. Fantastic!
My next pick would have to be the Aglianico del Vulture Il Repertorio, 2012 from Cantine del Notaio. It was one of the wines I tasted at the Tre Bichierri tasting itself and I always say if I have a taste memory of any wine after such a big tasting it must be something special. This wine stuck with me even though it is not even in the British Columbia market as yet so there is no possibility of it being sold at Zambri’s. This wine is from Basilicata which is a lesser known region of Italy. The grape is Aglianico and I was curious to taste this expression of it called Aglianico del Vulture. It completely impressed me with it’s meaty characteristics well balanced with fruit and acidity. One of the best examples of this grape I have tasted.
Finally, back home in Victoria I had the opportunity to taste a spectacular example of a traditional Chianti Classico Reserva, the Il Grigio from San Felice Winery in Tuscany. Some Chianti to me smells just like Cabernet Sauvignon as this grape is often added. This Il Grigio is 100% Sangiovese and I immediately recognized the herbaceous bouquet as being from a wine made in a more traditional style. A Chianti Classico made in a traditional style is the best food wine in the world. It has good weight without being overwhelming and is well balanced with enough tannic structure and acidity to work well with many different dishes. An exceptional way to end my week.