Review - Wine - Lungarotti

An ominous sounding pinot grigio from central Italy

My name is Mike and I'm a supermarket slut.

There, I've said it. Phew. It wasn't always thus, you know. I remember the days when I could walk the aisles of Villa and not snigger at mosquito repellent called Ars Liquid. Or when I could wander around Tops without spending my whole week's shopping budget on chewy sweets called Fanny. Those were also the days when I wouldn't take phone-pictures of Black Man mops and get into a sweaty, violent funk trying to send copies to all my friends.

So I've got a problem. But I'm trying to face up to it. Part of my rehabilitation is a kind of Ludovico's Technique which entails keeping a photograph of a Japanese fish sausage product called Homo Sausage as my screensaver and jabbing myself in the ear with a larb-flavoured Pretz every time I giggle. It seems to be working; I haven't eaten khao phad poo in weeks. (Chuckle ... Ow!)

But like everyone with an addiction, be it booze, jazz tablets or Fanny, I am only ever one packet of Collon away from relapse. My long dark night of the soul came last Sunday when, hopped up on red Fanta and chicken feet, I piled into Gourmet Market at Emporium and splurged my baby son's milk money on a bottle of Italian pinot grigio called Lungarotti (705 baht, 2007, 13% ABV).

It's a brilliant name, Lungarotti. It sounds like a health warning on a packet of cigarettes. Or slang for being strangled by a cheese wire. "Don Luigi, I found Fredo speaking to the carabiniere. Shall I put a horse's head under his pyjamas?" "Non! Give him the Lungarotti!" (The reality, as ever, is a little less exciting, the plonk being named after the Umbrian company's founder, Giorgio Lungarotti, in the early '60s.)

Pinot grigio can be a horrendously dull wine; watery and lacking in character, it can make David Beckham appear charismatic and profound. So much of the stuff is churned out each year that it is maybe no wonder that most of it is insipid muck. But not every last grass-tinged drop is "meh" and, despite the titter-worthy name, the Lungarotti 2007 is a perfectly pleasant drop.

Light and fruity with an elegantly understated floral whiff, the nose of this pale plonk is all lazy
Sundays by a lake. Dry and light-to-medium bodied, it goes down as easily as Cristiano Ronaldo on a bouncy castle, leaving the slightest of booze-burns and a mild puckering of the gob walls.
Quite delicate, there are notes of lemon, honey and almonds, and even a slight ginger quality. Thoroughly enjoyable. This is a clean and crisp drop with a touch of acid that would work well as an aperitif or, as I had it, with a healthy portion of Homo Sausage and some lightly waxed larb Pretz.

In email-land, Andy from Bung Kum writes with a recommendation for what he describes as "an el cheapo bottle of plonk that they usually hide away on the bottom shelf at Villa Thong Lor". The tipple in question is called Coyanza Blanco, apparently, and goes for a remarkably low 269 baht.

Seriously, Andy, I ain't touching it. The last time I bought a bottle that cheap was from behind the counter at a Tesco Express and, I kid you not, I ended up using it to unblock the sink.
"The label tells me its 'Vino De Mesa'," he continues, not realising that we all lost interest ages ago, "which I gather has something to do with desert rock formations."

Moving on ... Caroline Funck (!) is this week's winner of the Grapevine Silly Name of the Week Award (brought to you by Ars Liquid). Caroline, who says she "started drinking Chilean wines 20 years ago", agrees with my assertion last week that the South American slosh has improved since the '80s before - somewhat bizarrely - going on to recommend where to buy German bread in Bangkok. Thanks Caroline, but maybe 20 years on the grog is enough now, eh? At least have a cup of coffee and sober up. After all, everyone knows Germans don't make good bread. In fact (cue drum roll) they make the wurst!
Eh? Oh, suit yourself.

Bangkok Post, November 2008

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