Review - Wine - Ottosanti

A classic option for fruit, fun and sheer drinkability

Agent Starling struggles to keep her composure as Lecter's mocking barbs dig deep into her soul, clawing at her already fragile sense of worth.

"Why don't you look at yourself and write down what you see," she stammers, desperate to appear strong, desperate to be in control. "Or maybe you're afraid to."

Lecter slams the papers back into the drawer and fixes Starling with a cold, murderous stare. "A census-taker once tried to test me," he deadpans. "I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice drop of Blue Nun - it was on at two-for-one at Tesco Express. Not as bad as you might think. Slurpity, slurp!"

Phew. For a minute there I thought I was going to have to hide behind the sofa again, like I do whenever something truly scary comes on TV. Like The Exorcist. Or John Dykes on Football Focus. (Nobody can be that clean. It's frightening.)

But, of course, Hannibal Lecter doesn't say Blue Nun in Silence of the Lambs, does he? No. He says: "A nice Chianti." Much different. One's a marvellous drop of Tuscan magic, while the other's a sickly German relic of the '70s that people are embarrassed to admit they like. No, hang on. I'm thinking of The Scorpions.

Anyway, Chianti. Let's hear it for checked tablecloths! Whoop it up for straw baskets! And, ladies and gentlemen, a warm hand for Ottosanti! At 699 baht (Central Chidlom, 12.5%), this ain't the cheapest bottle we've ever had at Grapevine Towers, but the quest for decent wine at a good price is a perilous one, dear reader, and sometimes that means paying 100 baht or so more than you normally would.

It's the sort of wine you might miss, actually, hidden away on a lower shelf. Unassuming dark red label, not much information, middling price range. Basically it just says: "I'm a Chianti. Want some?" Well, yes, Mr Ottosanti, we do.

A sumptuous ruby red colour invites the nose in to a warm bouquet of cherries and, naturally enough for a drop that's 95% sangiovese, strawberries. There's a pleasant sensation to the mouth as this breezy drop slides down, and an ever-so-slightly sweet taste that brings to mind ripe red fruit dipped in mildly spicy milk chocolate.

So, a Chianti that's fruity and easy to drink, I hear you muttering. Isn't that the point? Well, of course it is. But timeliness is next to wineliness, and this is a little beauty from just outside Florence that is absolutely perfect for the party season. Turn up to a seasonal bash with a bottle of this and nobody will be frowning as you plonk it on the table and start digging into the single malts.

On the subject of the festive season, I'd like to know what you will be serving alongside your celebratory feasts. Will you be lounging around the pool with pineapple and cheese on sticks and a chenin blanc colombard from up the road at Khao Yai? Or flopping out in front of the TV with some leftover turkey sandwiches and a big fat Spanish Rioja? Or maybe you'll be gnawing on chicken ligaments and glugging Hong Tong with the motorbike taxi guys. Never did me any harm.

And now, from our Care in the Community project, a plea from Jim Rodford in Chiang Mai: "Mr Atkins" - a polite start, very good - "while I appreciate all your efforts in assessing bog-standard plonk from around the world, why don't you review Thai wine? Is it because it's all rubbish?" Well, Jim, the short answer is no, it's not because it's all rubbish. In fact there are several Thai wines I'm quite partial to, although not many in the price range for this column, admittedly.
That's the problem here, as I'm sure you know - the price. Kim came through last week with a perfectly reasonable Mont Clair syrah, but value like that - 285 baht - is all too rare. However, point taken, Jim, and I will endeavour to cover more Thai wines. Hallelujah! Sawasdi krap! Chon gaio!
Bangkok Post, November 2008

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