“The Italian soft reds went well with a bowl of value-for-money pasta in a dimly lit café that offered romance based on the affinity between chianti and tomato-based dishes,” writes wine columnist RICHARD CALVER
THERE is nothing like spontaneity. It beats planning.
Thank you, Kate Winslet, for saying that a bunch of freshly picked daffodils beats out diamond earrings in the romance stakes. All blokes with a penchant for saving money but still being on the money embrace your sentiment.
Anyway, in a highly non-romantic, spontaneous moment of deciding where to go for pizza after doing the five-kilometre, inner-lake walk after work, a mate and I ended up at Trecento in Manuka on the same day that Wendy Johnson published a review of the place (CN, July 20). Go figure. Spontaneity and coincidence were a spooky amalgam.
And what a start: the wine list was a blur, literally. I had failed to bring my reading glasses! Awful enough as it was to get my mate to read the list of pizzas to me (which he kindly did), worse was the thought of confronting the entire wine list in the way of him being my amanuensis. So when, through my myopic haze, I saw sitting on the bar a bottle of Long Rail Gully pinot noir, I breathed out with relief. Spontaneity be set aside. I know this winery is good as I had tried their unctuous, berry flavoured 2015 cabernet sauvignon and had been impressed with this Canberra-based winery’s standards. The 2016 pinot noir ($12 a glass) proved to be a delight and a pretty good match with pizza.
This wine demonstrated remarkable fragrance on the nose with a cherry/strawberry bouquet. For such a young wine, it has good structure and a lovely clean finish.
Later, when discussing this wine with Petar Vujica, the manager at Trecento, he said: “The youngness of this wine doesn’t come through because it is so mouth filling and full of fruit.”
“Youngness! Do you mean youth?” I spurted spontaneously.
“Oh, crap. I can’t believe I said that,” said Petar.
“Yes, look, don’t quote me on that because my language got tangled up but you know this wine is good despite it being a 2016, that’s what I meant. It has a fruity, strawberry flavour that is delightful and it’s drinking great right now.”
“I agree – even though it is good drinking now, I reckon it has at least 10 years of development,” said I. Petar agreed and defraying his embarrassment, offered me a taste of the Truffle Hound nebbiolo 2016, a Clare Valley wine.
This spontaneous act of kindness, or misdirection following his grammatical outrage, backfired. The wine tastes more like a merlot than an Italian nebbiolo. It tasted tart and short on the palate compared with the Long Rail Gully pinot noir. And if it is more a food wine than a quaffer, it was too late. The pizza had been devoured and a second Long Rail Gully consumed.
But despite this strange vinous detour, there were no regrets in this crowded, happy place. The staff are full of “youngness” and enthusiasm. The service was impeccable. Plus the wait staff are open to feedback. When I asked for a taste of the Long Rail Gully before first ordering a glass, the delightful waitress said: “Too easy”. When I mentioned that this seemed an expression she should abandon given its vulgarity, no offence was taken.
“What do I replace it with?” she said.
“Superb,” I blurted.
And that word really reflects the wine we consumed and the smiling acknowledgement of the staff and the customers just having an unselfconscious, good time.