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The Slow Food and Slow Wine movement


By Brian elliott March 13, 2011 SCOTLANDonSUNDAY

It is 25 years since the opening of a McDonald’s in Rome prompted the start of the slow food movement. Championing ethics, ecology, gastronomy and regional products, its membership has grown to 100,000 spread across 150 countries. Although only 2,000 of those members are in the UK, there are a dozen “branches” in Scotland.

There have been links to wine from the outset but, to provide a fresh approach, a new style guide (in Italian) was launched last year. Although Slow Wine2011 currently involves only Italian producers, it does adopt a different approach. The focus is on the wineries rather than wines, and it eschews the “marks out of 100” format, utilising instead qualitative based symbols to identify something special (a bottle for quality, a coin for value and a snail for that special harmony). To prove that tradition and technology are compatible, Slow Wine 2011 came out last week as an iPhone application usable here.

Slow wine itself is hard to define but several underlying principles seem to unify producers. There is a determination to reflect faithfully the wine’s context and its local soil and microclimate. Although not all slow wines are fully organic, one detects a strong belief that chemical intervention breaches the bond between grape varieties and their territory. As one respected Tuscan producer says: “Slow wine is made with traditional and natural methods and lots of good sense.”

Among the 1,800 wineries represented in the guide, few growers epitomise the slow wine concept better than Trentino’s Elisabetta Foradori. Taking over the family business at 19 after her father’s premature death, she quickly focused on local grape varieties. Having gone fully biodynamic in 2000, she poetically told me her job is “steering, but not pushing, the wine to express its personality”.

Her white grapes are manzoni bianco – a cross between riesling and pinot blanc – and, recently, another rare local variety, the complex and aromatic nosiola. Although the red grape she uses – teroldego (a brother- in-law of shiraz) – was already grown on the estate, Foradori was unhappy with its quality. There followed a lengthy and painstaking propagation process which now delivers her flagship version, granato, that can fetch £50 a bottle. For a less expensive example try Teroldego Rotiliano DOC 2007.

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