“There are flowers on the vine at last, that’s a good thing,” says John Leech, “Tradition holds that once the flowers arrive, the grapes will be harvested 100 days later. We were all a bit worried this year as spring came very late.”
It’s mid-June in Northern Italy’s Asti region, 2 hours south-west of sprawling Milan. We are driving up to the Araldica estate’s restaurant and lodge, ‘Il Cascionne,’ with darting finches playing in the 30-degrees heat against an azure sky; it’s glorious.
John, Sales Manager for Araldica, then begins pointing around the landscape: “Over those hills is Gavi, over there Genoa,” he continues to pivot with his arm outstretched, “Ventimiglia, Milan, Venice….” All that can be seen are rolling hills with the odd medieval church tower dotted among the vineyards.
Lunch is served on the terrace, a view and a menu almost too beautiful to describe, the quintessence Italy. Hand-rolled ravioli with veal, sweet peppers, local beef tartare…and wine.
A 2000 Berbera stands out, it’s the flagship and little wonder Jamie’s Italian can’t get enough of this grape. The Prosecco too is outstanding and also a mainstay of the JI menu.
We are joined by Claudio, Araldica’s Head Honcho: “In the valley, at our bottling and distribution centre, we collect the grapes from 300 different growers as we run as a cooperative,” he says, “I personally quality assess every single crop that comes in.”
This is why Jamie’s Italians love this wine, it’s of the highest standards despite the huge volumes being despatched; every glass in every restaurant comes with this guarantee of authenticity and love.