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Your September dose of seasonal picks - what to drink, what to cook with and where to eat. Welcome to our latest edition of Sociovino's monthly picks, this month focusing on sustainability, celebrating wineries and distilleries with an eye to the future - small producers, big flavours, low impact and still no fuss. We're also celebrating the latest edition to the Sociovino famiglia - our Seasonal Subscription, which launched at the start of the month.
No matter what your age or profession, September will forever conjure up strong associations with heading back to school – whether that filled you with excitement or dread, we’ll leave to you to you to reminisce. But, further to new pencil cases, what does September signify? It’s a month of transition, of reset and, somewhat, of relief as we no longer have calendars filled with plans that rely on improbable beaming sunshine. It’s a month where the mania of back-to-back Summer weekends starts to slow and, with the gentler pace of life comes more time for the appreciation of the highlights of the new season: Autumn. Leaves turn a warm golden in place of the more sporadic sun and indoor dining returns to its former glory, while some annual favourites return to market stalls – squashes and wild mushrooms in all shapes and sizes. If you’re smart, September also signifies a belated Summer holiday, with these Autumnal delights to come later in the month once school really is back in session.
We’re viewing this month as less of an end to Summer, and more of the start of a new, exciting journey -- it's harvest time, after all, and we’ve launched our first Seasonal Subscription Case, something we’ve been building for months to make sure that, whichever way you see our new month, you can have something to look forward to, with twelve beautiful bottles selected to get you through the next few months, perfectly suited to this fresh-faced time of year and to the seasonal vegetables our partner chef, George Williams of FedByGeorge fame, has placed at the heart of his Sociovino recipes.
If you always head into September with a back-to-school attitude, our Seasonal Subscription Case and its accompanying wine tastings are the perfect way to learn something new. If you’d rather leave school behind you and settle into a September of Supper Clubs, dinner parties and socialising within the warmth of your four walls, our Subscription brings you all the bottles to make hosting a breeze, while access to wider discounts across the bottle shop mean you never need to stop at wine.
Enjoy our September Edit, celebrating the new month, and all it has to offer as we turn over a new leaf – or let old ones fall.
In this month's edition:
Vines of Johanneshof Reinisch (one of our Seasonal producers), in the Autumnal mist
Sustainability and the drinks industry have long sat on opposing ends of the spectrum when it comes to slowing the progression of climate change, with global wine and spirits producers contributing significantly to carbon emissions via unsustainable, volume- and margin-focused production, shipping and storage methods. It’s an industry considered ‘high risk’ due to a widespread absence of sustainable agricultural methods and, furthermore, a general lack of control over sustainable practices (or unsustainable practices) throughout the supply chain. The problem comes, in large part, from the fact the industry has undergone such a huge transformation in the past few decades, shifting from small, localized production to an overwhelming dependence on global, multi-million dollar brand groups, pumping hundreds of millions of litres of booze across the world.
Ultimately, however, wine and spirits is an industry that depends heavily on quality ingredients and healthy ecosystems – both of which its own skyrocket-growth is rapidly destroying as land is stripped of its biodiversity and emission-fuelled temperature rises make once-productive vineyard areas inhospitable for even the sturdiest of grapes.
Fires burned over 130,000 acres of Californian land in 2020, plunging wineries into darkness.
Thirty years ago, we started working with a number of producers that we felt offered products of the highest quality, with the best flavours - wines and spirits that were hard to forget, and easy to find a home for. Those producers all had one thing in common – they were small and run by a family or a team of local experts who were passionate about their products, who maintained positive control across every step of their winery or distillery’s ecosystem, from the planting of the vine or spirit grain to the bottling of the resulting liquid. The result?
We still work with those same producers – and many more working under the same philosophy – today, and we always will. Their respect for the land and its ecosystems manifests in many ways – while some have received the formal label of Certified Organic, others practice organic farming without the certification (which can be very costly to acquire), others bring sustainability into the winery or distillery itself, like Salcheto, who have created a self-sustaining winery via the recycling of energy sources from across the winery operation, and the Oxford Artisan Distillery, who had their own copper stills built to avoid the impact of sourcing them from far and wide. Perhaps these practices were established as a means of sustaining certain pockets of land for future generational use, perhaps they were established with foresight for the future of our climate – either way, they contribute to the latter for certain today, and they continue to invest heavily in innovations that allow them to do so even more efficiently. In the face of global corporations that dominate the market with low-cost, heavy-impact wines and spirits, that’s something we have a huge amount of respect for. We’re also pretty grateful that the result is the continuation of the creation of beautiful wines and spirits.
Kicking off with a piece on Organic wine, written by our wine wizard, Dora – what it does, doesn’t and really doesn’t mean, we’re entitling this month Sustainability September, so we’ll be shouting about our sustainable producers (luckily for us, that’s all of them..).
Small producers – big flavours – low impact – no fuss.
Organic grapes being picked as harvests go full steam ahead in the Northern Hemisphere
Our team's top selection for the month of September - introducing you to new grape varieties, new regions and new producers. You can discover the full selection of Autumnal wines in our Seasonal Subscription Case - 12 wines, for £150.
One of the twelve bottles for our Autumn case, this bottle is one of our top new discoveries. It takes Nebbiolo – usually an intense grape that needs time to become accessible – and combines with two more varieties: Vespolina and Croatina. These bring drinkability and balance to a wine that captures all that’s enchanting about Italy’s Alto Piemonte region. It’s beautifully mineral and earthy on the nose, opening up to a sweet cherry core, bursting with wild strawberries, mint leaves and liquorice. If you’re usually into your bold, complex reds, this is the perfect Autumnal option, straddling you from the lighter drops of summer towards those suited for chillier nights, with its medium body, medium tannin – and the fact it’s ready to drink noah…or now.
Read more here.
You know the friend you can take to any dinner party in the knowledge they’ll be spoken about for days to come? We all know the one. Pfaffl’s Wien 1 is that friend, bringing together old acquaintances and leaving them closer than ever. This bottle pulls together Riesling, Grüner Veltliner and Pinot Blanc, inspired by the traditional Austrian Gemischter Satz, a Viennese field blend wine, and creates a party – it’s zingy, fresh and mouth-fillingly fleshy with a palate so concentrated with peach, pear and lime it’ll linger on the tongue, and the lips of the other guests. Ever so slightly off dry, its citrus acidity is wrapped in a medium body that’s great sipped on its own, nice and chilled with a side of great conversation, or alongside some meaty grilled fish. Spicy, fruity, fresh, juicy and racy, this is Austrian white wine at its best, and it’s more than prepped to join the party
Apples -- Blackberries -- Damsons -- Elderberries -- Plums -- Pears (new) -- Raspberries -- Redcurrants -- Tomatoes
Aubergines -- Beetroot -- Broccoli -- Brussels Sprouts -- Butternut Squash -- Cabbage -- Carrots -- Cauliflower -- Celeriac -- Celery -- Horseradish -- Kale -- Leeks -- Marrow -- Parsnips -- Potatoes -- Peas -- Peppers -- Shallots -- Spinach -- Summer Squash -- Sweetcorn -- Turnips -- Wild Mushrooms
Beef -- Game (Grouse, Guinea Fowl, Partridge) -- Lamb -- Venison
Bream -- Clams -- Crab -- Mackerel -- Mussels -- Red Mullet -- Scallops -- Skate
Autumn's seasonal gems - warm colours for chillier nights
‘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:
Every Sunday from 10am-4pm. With over 50 traders it’s the perfect place to pick up your weekly provisions, from seasonal, well-sourced food to arts and crafts. It’s run by ‘City and Country Farmers’ with community at its heart, making for a glorious Sunday morning (particularly if you’re welcomed by someone on the Herne Hill station piano..)
It’s Sustainability September for Sociovino, and there are few better options for convenient fresh produce delivery than Oddbox, delivering all the fruits and vegetables that don’t make the cut for the supermarket. As advocates of small production, big flavour, we know the potential all well-grown crops offer, no matter what they look like. But, in our opinion, the funkier the better.
While plenty of the produce we enjoyed through August is still available, the best of September comes from the new recruits to the market shelves. We can keep the Summer alive with foods that brighten up ever-so-slightly darkening evenings before heading into the darker shades of winter, whilst whipping up food that keeps us warm as we optimistically opt for al-fresco seats to catch those last slithers of Summer sun.
This month, Clem’s cooking up plenty of colour in a Beetroot, Mint and Feta risotto, brimming with flavour – and goodness – and crammed full with one of wine’s closest friends: the pink vegetable that’s earthy, sweet and sour, all at once.
We all need a little colour this month...so we've put beetroot at the heart of the table, alongside a bottle that'll brighten up any table.
Nebbiolo Rosé Rosanna, Ettore Germano, Piedmont
Beetroot is one of the few vegetables that is a joy to pair wine with. The strong texture, earthy undertones and sweet core open it up to a host of accompaniments. With this beetroot risotto we have selected the Sparkling Nebbiolo Rosé Rosanna, from Ettore Germano in Piedmont. A rosé made in the Champagne method jumped out at us here because there’s the delightful combination of bright acidity alongside a delicate creaminess, refreshing your palate whilst seamlessly blending with the silky rice. Produced with 100% Nebbiolo - quite unusual for a sparkling wine - hallmark notes of wild strawberries and cranberries are accented by wild roses, which dovetail into a sweet, brioche-like finish. The fruit profile of Nebbiolo is more earthy than we’re used to with most rosé sparkling wines, so it’s a perfect match made for the darker side of beetroot. Fresh herbs linger on your palate after every mouthful and their delightful flavours are joined by the lifted floral character of this fizz for a heavenly pairing.
1. Gently heat the butter in a large saucepan and add the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cover the onions snugly with a circle of parchment and place the lid on the pan. Leave to sweat for c. 15 minutes, stirring every now and then.
2. When the onions are soft (no resistance when you squish a piece between your fingers), add the lemon zest and continue cooking over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the rice and toast in the pan for 2-3 minutes, using a wooden spoon to stir - the aim is to crack the rice kernels to release starch for a creamy texture.
4. Pour in the wine and allow the alcohol to simmer off.
5. With the stock hot (ideally on a separate hob staying warm), add ladle by ladle, allowing the previous ladle to absorb fully before adding the next. Continually stir the risotto.
6. The rice should take c. 18 minutes to cook to a nice al dente texture - when you're there, stir through the parmesan, lemon juice, chopped dill, mint and natural yoghurt.
7. Taste and season with salt! Then top with crumbled feta, any remaining herbs, a dollop of yoghurt and a generous glug of olive oil.
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 September – maybe we’ll see you there...
Perilla is a team favourite, a neighbourhood restaurant based in Newington Green. Using humble ingredients of tip top quality, the food focused on classic European flavours - modernised for a casual, but absolutely cracking, dining experience. Their menu changes daily, and with the seasons, something we're huge fans of at Sociovino - and we're not alone...they've just been featured in the National Restaurant Awards Top 100 Restaurants in the UK. Top tip: their glassware is hard to beat in any other London establishments...wineglass snobs, welcome home.
Tom and Clem stumbled across this place on their lunchtime strolls around King's Cross - it turns out a few people had already heard of it...so we stocked up on some delicious dumplings and duck pancakes to fuel us through our Seasonal Subscription launch. Dim Sum made-to-order in a low-key local spot. It's definitely one to check out if you work in the area - but their steam roast pork buns and roast duck pancakes are worth travelling for, too.
Casa Fofó's a spot Tom discovered a couple of weeks ago - many a Whatsapp about every bite of the menu later, and it had to be on our hit list for September. Welcoming not wanky is what the Infatuation has to say about this spot – and Tom’s very much in agreement (although he’d never use such language…). A £45 tasting menu that’s always changing, always exceeds expectations, and is served up with a side of vibes it’s hard to beat, even in Hackney. It’s top of our list for lowkey date spot recommendations thanks to it’s dimly-lit, cosy dining area and a menu that’ll provide plenty of conversation to cover all six courses (six if you want cheese), starting with a sourdough that sets the tone for the table – house-made sourdough feat. Caramelized butter and roasted yeast. When the bread says it all, you know it’s a real gem.
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