Castello di Potentino Pop-Up
I hate the phrase “pop-up restaurant”. To me, pop-up implies here today, gone next week – I don’t think a pop-up should be a way to create interest in a venture which the proprietor patently has no intention of ever closing. I don’t think the food has to be of amazing quality but the experience has to be memorable; far too often pop-up is a synonym for mediocre. Most of all though, I dislike pop-ups because they tend to attract a “cooler than thou” clientele who grate on my nerves.
Thankfully, the event I attended a few weeks ago wasn’t afflicted with any of these blights. The supper held in the Science Gallery in Trinity College Dublin was the last of a series of pop-up evenings in Ireland from the folks at Castello di Potentino and From Vineyards Direct.
Castello di Potentino is a small winery in the province of Grosseto in Tuscany, about 30km from Montalcino, with a total production of 20,000 bottles per year. The aim of the Potentino pop-up is to recreate the conviviality of an evening sitting by the fire in the castle in Tuscany chatting with friends over a glass of wine. Alexander Greene and winemaker Charlotte Horton were on hand to talk the diners through the wines and olive oil for the evening.
We tasted a range of the Castello di Potentino wines – Lyncurio 2009 as an aperitif; Piropo 2008 accompanying pasta with Bottarga pesto; Sacromonte 2005 with the main course of Tuscan sausages cooked in wine, Fave e Fagioli; Piropo 2007 accompanying chocolate pots with Maldon salt, lavender and Potentino olive oil.
Hands up here, my tasting notes from the evening were truly awful – scrawls of incoherent words in the main, but thankfully I wrote down something meaningful about my favourite wine of the night – Sacromonte 2005 – this was a really quaffable Sangiovese from the Monteccucco Rosso DOC. Starting out with hints of flowers, the cherry fruit nose evolved into more intense, earthy, mineral characteristics on the palate with a streak of liquorice running through the finish. With just enough acidity and tannin to ensure that the wine was neither heavy nor flabby, it wore its 14.5% alcohol extremely well – worryingly so when one considers how drinkable it was. Indeed I had no idea that it was 14.5% alcohol until the end of the evening which could explain the scrawled tasting notes! Quite frankly, I could’ve done without the Fave e Fagioli and just sat with a plate of the Tuscan sausages and a bottle of this.
This was a really fun evening, ironically made all the more enjoyable by our late arrival. Our tardiness meant that I and my three dining companions assumed makeshift place settings in the middle of a ring-shaped table and indeed ate some courses with our plates on our laps. I should add that the lap dining was entirely our own choice but in a sort of odd way it fitted right in with the informal, homely and relaxed approach to the evening. Simple but enjoyable food, interesting and exciting wines. Great fun.