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Your August dose of seasonal picks - what to drink, what to cook with and where to eat. Welcome to the first edition of Sociovino's monthly picks, aptly themed 'New Beginnings', celebrating all things mid-summer, from wines that guarantee new discoveries to a linguine recipe capturing the big flavour of produce freshly in season.
We’re passionate about seasonality. Anyone working in wine, from growers to winemakers to buyers revolve their calendar around nature’s changing patterns, with the amalgamation of a year’s seasons - its highs, lows, freezes and fires -eventually defining the nuance of every bottle of wine we uncork. But, if you don’t work in wine, there tends to be a stronger association between food and seasonality. Wine, after all, is available all year round, while the fleeting appearance of British asparagus is almost etched into the hearts, let alone recipe books, of chefs, foodies and food writers.
One of our goals when launching Sociovino was to encourage greater seasonal dialogue between wine and food – one that’s more nuanced than just: ‘red wine in winter, white wine in summer, red wine with meat, white wine with fish’. In a quiet moment, you can read our full piece on what we mean by seasonality in wine. For now, let us introduce you to our ‘Monthly Edition’, the journal segment we’ll be bringing you each month, as leaves change or flowers bloom – and as what’s on our plate meanders through local produce at its best. A product so intensely rooted in nature’s annual cycles, it makes sense for wine to meander just as much. We’re here (and so is our soon-to-launch Seasonal Wine Subscription) to guide you through sipping with the seasons.
In this month's edition:
Ripe black grapes on the vine
There are few months more abundant in their offering than August. In theory, days are long, warm and scented with over-ripe flowers and BBQ smoke. Food memories are filled with school holiday nostalgia – sticky fingers coated in strawberry juice at its sweetest, Mr Whippies and Elderflower Cordial on ice. Sadly, school summer holidays are long gone for the Sociovino team, but new food memories are just as scrumptious – and nostalgia always tastes sweet when paired with the perfect pour.
While we’re used to viewing August as part of summer’s delectable blend of lengthy, languid and (hopefully) light-jacketed days, it is in fact a strongly transitional month. It sees us move from soft red fruits into stone fruits – apricots, plums, damsons, peaches, nectarines - at their most succulent and, while summer sunshine brings all things sweet, our August menus are balanced with a beautiful bitterness – think fennel, radicchio and courgette flowers.
In the Northern hemisphere’s warmer regions, mid to late August sees grape harvests commencing as temperatures rise and grapes ripen earlier and earlier. Meanwhile, in the Southern hemisphere, vineyards are being carefully prepped for a new season of vine growth.
August also sees Sociovino’s new beginning – our first full month of ‘service’ and the launch of our Seasonal Subscription.
So, we encourage you to enjoy your wines and spirits in the context of new beginnings this month – discover new wines, regions, producers, food pairings and raise a glass to August.
Caparzo grape harvest, Tuscany
Our team's top selection for the month of August - introducing you to new grape varieties, new regions and new producers.
We’re a lil’ in love with Gabbas’ Lillove Cannonau di Sardegna this month. Known for producing exemplary traditional Sardinian wines, this bottle exudes elegance. It’s a red wine that’s beautifully expressive, with a fragrant bouquet of fresh raspberries and violets, soft tannins and a hint of white pepper on the finish. Lillove is made from 95% Cannonau (the local name for Grenache) and 5% Muristellu (a local Sardinian variety). Fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks, Giuseppe Gabbas believes in minimal intervention during the production process, his winemaking style is simple, which makes these wines ever more compelling in their integrity. The perfect pairing for a summer BBQ - pop some meat onto grill and uncork the Cannonau. Read more here.
Perhaps you’ve never tried many Sicilian wines – or maybe you’ve never been to Sicily. Either way, this drop is a beautiful starting point for discovering a region with so much to offer. Produced from organic grapes grown at altitude on its Eastern slopes, this is Etna in a glass and, while travel remains compromised, we’re sipping on it as a satisfying alternative to Sicilian adventures. After all, there are few producers more iconic than Benanti when it comes to their reputation for Sicilian wines of typicity, character and elegance – and there are few grapes more reflective of their origins than Sicily’s treasured, indigenous Carricante grape. A holiday would be lovely – but how about a glass of this to tide you over: a stunningly pure white wine, delicate yet rich in mouthful, mineral and aromatic with ripe green apple notes. If you need us, we’ll be reading di Lampedusa’s ‘The Leopard’ and tucking into some seafood, Mediterranean vegetables and soft cheeses with our good friend Benanti. Read more here.
New beginnings involve the discovery of new grape varieties. We’ve chosen this bottle to help you do just that, as we’d be impressed if you’d tried a wine made from Ribolla Gialla before. It’s an ancient variety of white grape, native to North-East Italy’s Friuli Venezia-Giulia region, typically light in body with fruity, floral aromas and a bright acidity. This drop from the family run Ronchi di Cialla winery is particularly unforgettable. It’s fresh and lively, with moreish notes of bread crust (thanks to three months of lees aging), apple and pear – lifted by floral notes that dance out of the glass while a stunning, steely minerality and a bouquet of savoury herbs linger on the palate. It’s our top pairing for Clem’s Roasted Fennel Linguine, so don’t hang about. Read more here.
What better way to round off our list of ‘New Beginning’ wines than with one made via the oldest method of making sparkling wine? We think it’s the perfect entry into natural sparklings, offering all the complexity and diversity of natural wine, whilst remaining clean and vibrant, allowing its Verdicchio grape to show its true colours (which are more white than neon pink). There are, however, some other influences in this dangerously delicious drop, with a small percentage of Malvasia and Sangiovese making up the blend of Tenuta di Tavignano’s ‘naughty boy’ (‘il pestifero’) sparkling wine. With no fining or filtration taking place after the second in-bottle fermentation, this is a true reflection of the winery’s ‘I Love Monsters’ range, which was designed to celebrate the wild and rugged nature of natural wines and their many quirks. It’s dry, citrussy, mineral and lip-smackingly savoury with a tangle of herbal undertones – in short, a Pét-Nat without the funk, but with bags of fun ready to burst out of its crown cap; the perfect party-starter. Read more here.
Early apple varieties – Blueberries – Cherries – Raspberries – Strawberries – Damsons – Peaches -- Plums – Nectarines – Apricots – Tomatoes
Aubergine – Beetroot – Broad beans – Cabbage – Carrots – Cauliflower – Courgettes – Cucumber – Fennel – French and runner beans – Leeks – Lettuce – New potatoes – Peas – Peppers – Red cabbage – Radicchio – Spring onions – Summer squash – Sweetcorn
Borough Market's seasonal picks
‘Small producers and big flavours’ is an ethos the team live by outside of just wine – who can blame us? It’s a recipe for finding the most exquisite produce around. Each month we’ll highlight a couple of spots we recommend you put your faith into for flavours you won’t forget – flavours that’ll make your wine selection sing:
Nothing ground-breaking in this suggestion, but our team are loving Borough Market’s new Sunday opening hours (10am-2pm) – a first in the market’s 265-year history. They’ve even published a guide to shopping for your Sunday lunch, with ‘Sunday Specials’, recipes and traders that aren’t to be missed. Next up on Dora’s list is a Hot Smoked Trout, Broad Bean and Pea Shoot tart, using trout from Oak & Smoke, whole milk from Hook & Son and broad beans from Ted’s Veg.
Natoora’s founding story begins: “it started with a peach”. What a perfect supplier for our August edition. It was built to make space for and celebrate the small producers selling the most delicious produce at its height – in season. Something that sounds simple, but something our local supermarkets have failed to do for over twenty years, causing havoc for our food system, and local farmers. Find them through Ocado, in Waitrose, or order direct via their app. They saved us in lockdown, delivering restaurant-quality ingredients to home (sound familiar?).
Summer has been somewhat temperamental in 2021 so, while we wish we were bringing you a zingy Greek salad to keep you cool in the heat, Clem felt we all needed something a touch more comforting.
It’s light, beautifully fresh and incredibly simple to whip up for an al fresco dinner for four.
Roasted fennel takes on a beautiful sweetness when roasted - it's under-rated as a summer roasted vegetable
Ribolla Gialla, Ronchi di Cialla, 2020
Beautifully citrussy with the ability to stand up to this dish’s zesty lemon kick and to cut through its creamier ricotta base. A lingering herbal character and notes of bread crust pair beautifully with the roasted fennel and herby buttered crumbs. A winning combination.
Pre-heat your oven to 200°C (Conventional) or 180°C (Fan)
Pick off the fennel fronds (thread-like tops) and set aside in a bowl.
Halve and core the fennel bulb, then slice into 0.5-1cm thick strips.
Place on a baking tray and drizzle (generously) with olive oil, a good pinch of chunky sea salt and a grind of pepper. Toss thoroughly to coat, arrange in a single layer, then place in the oven to roast for c.20 minutes, checking halfway to shake the tray, and then 10 minutes from the end to add the hazelnuts for toasting (see below).
In a small bowl, combine the ricotta and zest and juice of one lemon. Season with flakey sea salt and pepper to taste. Set aside – and don’t panic that it’s not smooth.
Melt the butter in a large, wide based pan on a medium heat. Keep bubbling until browned (you’ll see brown specs on the bottom of the pan if it’s a pale pan and you’ll smell a nuttiness).
While it browns (3-4 minutes), peel and crush the garlic cloves, then halve the shallots through the root, and thinly slice across-ways.
Add the garlic and shallot to the pan with a pinch of salt and coat well in the butter. Remove from the direct heat to allow the butter to cool slightly so as to avoid burning your garlic. Return to the medium heat and, continually stirring, cook the garlic and shallots until well-softened and a little coloured (3-4 minutes).
Add the breadcrumbs and coat in the buttery mix. Stirring frequently, cook until toasted and browned (hold your nerve, colour is flavour!). Season with flakey sea salt and pepper, and stir through half of the chopped parsley. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Keep the pan.
Chop half of your hazelnuts in two, leaving the other half whole and mix in a bowl.
Check the fennel and give it a shake, adding your hazelnut mix to the tray for the final 10 minutes. Again, colour is flavour. Keep the fennel and hazelnuts roasting until both are well-coloured, toasty and brown.
In the pan used for breadcrumbs, combine the zest and juice of one lemon with 150ml water and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Thinly slice your chili and add, stirring well and heating to a boil on high heat until thoroughly combined. Taste and season. Remove from the heat.
Place a large pot of water on to boil, heavily salted (like the sea!). Cook according to instructions – only 2-3 minutes for fresh pasta.
Drain the water, but keep 2 tablespoons of cooking water and add to the sauce pan, placing it back on a medium heat. Add the pasta, roasted fennel and hazelnuts (saving a few to sprinkle on top of the dish) and stir to coat the pasta, distributing the fennel through the linguine.
Spread a generous layer of the lemon ricotta onto the base or side of your serving dish or plates.
Layer on the pasta and garnish with:
We’re still in full swing when it comes to making the most of eating and drinking away from the boundaries of our homes. Here are a few places on our list for August – maybe we’ll see you there:
Perfect spot for a post-work Prosecco. There’s plenty of outdoor seating, but its blissfully covered by the yard’s stunning archways, so you’re guaranteed some al fresco aperitivi, no matter the weather.
Our interview with illustrator Louise Sheeran bumped this one right to the top of our list. True believers in the unshakeable inevitability of the seasons.
August sees our first Supper Club partnership. We’ve designed a colourful wine list, paired perfectly with the Pickled Pear’s summer menu – cured & torched mackerel alongside our Albarino is one we can’t wait to tuck into. If you’re headed to any Supper Clubs in the coming weeks, let us know what you’re eating and we’ll get you fixed for some delicious tipples – or if you run Supper Clubs, get in touch for a fuss-free wine pairing partnership. We’ll handle everything from curating to ordering to delivering.
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