Saturday, April 18, 2009

Vin Santo and Versinthe

I trust you will forgive my friend - the wines were too various... This classic line from Brideshead Revisited always runs around in my head after a good party. Good Friday was no exception. As the red wine ran out, Dagfinn Skoglund reached into his collection of wines and spirits and found one bottle of Vin Santo and a bottle of Versinthe.

Villa Puccini Vin Santo

My first encounter with Vin Santo was during a visit to Italy in the year 2000. We stayed in Florence, and my fellow traveler bought a bottle of Vin Santo. At that point I had not learned to appreciate the sweet richness found in dessert wines. As my love of foie gras and blue cheese has grown, so has my passion for rich sweet wines.

Vin Santo - or holy wine as it translates is a sweet wine perfect to a dessert or even to strong blue cheeses as Stilton, Gorgonzola or Roquefort and to foie gras, ofcourse. Dagfinn Skoglund served it to his delicious passion fruit mousse. He did, however, especially recommend it to the sweet Italian specialty the biscotti or cantucci.

Villa Puccini Vin Santo originates from the city of Pontedera in Tuscany.

Of colour it resembles wines as the Sauternes or the Tokaji, a brilliant topaz to antique gold, orange color.

When you take the first sip, you are struck by the intense, nutty fragrance. A harmonious concentrated creamy taste with nuances of caramel and a memorable finish. This is absolutely a wine to fall in love with.

The producer recommends it as an aperitif with or before appetizers, except oysters!

Versinthe au plantes d'absinthe

Dagfinn is a designer, and what better to drag out in a designer den, than a bottle of versinthe - a French liquor inspired by the bohemian favorite, the Absinthe. The silver cardboard box contained a Versinthe made from 20 different plants and roots.

The real thing became a controversial drink and was banned in many countries, due to the effect it had on those enjoying it. It was blamed on the main ingredient - the Artimisia - the wormwood. The fact, though, is that the real absinthe was insanely high in alcohol. As most absinthes sold today, really is a kind of pastis, the good ol' stuff had 70% or more alcohol. These insanely strong absinthes are still sold in Europe. I saw one brand sold in Barcelona, containing 85% alcohol!!!

The Versinthe pictured here was rather harmless, though. With a percentage close to regular strong liquor , it would do as much, or as little harm to you as a glass of whisky. It still had the small spoon compulsory to mix your own absinthe attached to the box.

Versinthe is produced by Liquoristerie de Provence , that specialize in liquors inspired by the absinthe. - Venelles Pays d'Aix en Provence, a small community close to Aix en Provence.

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