Sitting down to speak to Paolo Orso about wine is an instantly inspiring experience. Knowing next to nothing about wine ourselves, except for our love to drink it- it is so refreshing to hear Paolo speak with the same passion and excitement that many men would exhibit only when their football club won. Paolo is no stranger to wine & dining though, he co-owns Mantecato, an amazing authentic Italian restaurant in Balmain. He has worked in hospitality and food for most of his life, however as an Italian; a passion for beautiful food and wine simply runs through his veins. His passion is infectious, accent is charming and his knowledge is vast.
We sat down with Paolo to discuss his ‘must drink list’, the wines he loves, drinks and recommends to all his friends and family. Whether you’re planning your next dinner party or simply love wine, make sure you try some to taste for yourself or if you love Italian food, do yourself a favour and make a reservation for Mantecato– your stomach will thank you.
$32 a bottle, AU
Produced in the Margaret River this blend exhibits structure and subtly achieved by the introduction of the Semillon variety to the Sauvignon Blanc. This stops to wine from being too fruity and gives an interesting balance to the wine. The ‘LTC’ stands for a little touch of Chardonnay.
$19 a bottle, ITThis wine is a favourite, with a light to medium body it works beautifully with white meats.
$45 a bottle, AU
Made in the Yarra Valley at Sexton Vineyard this Chardonay is aged lovingly in barrels resulting in a full bodied depth of flavour. The wine is very buttery on the nose and has a clean crisp finish.
$70 per bottle, AUA Willian Downie Pinot Noir comes in three different varietals each with their own characteristics & flavours- yet each is equally beautiful to drink. TryGippsland, Mornington and Yarra for a light to medium take on a Pinot Noir which is easy to drink and beautiful to share.
$34 a bottle, AU
This winery specialises in just Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Pinot is a must drink, the slightly lighter style is made from great fruit which is handpicked with notes of rasperberry throughout. The wine is simple and easy to drink.
$60 a bottle, IT
The Barolo is considered to have a full body, rich and tannic. DOCG regulations stipulate that Barolo wines must be aged for a minimum of 3 years (at least one year in oak) prior to release and aged at least 5 years to be considered a riserva, however they are best enjoyed aged from 10 years. Paolo explains this is due to the tannins softening over time. Paolo recommends buying a case and putting it away, a bottle can be enjoyed once in a while however you will get ultimate enjoyment in opening a bottle aged at least 10 years for the ultimate celebration of the wines flavour.
$34 a bottle, IT
This wine is a Super Tuscan, a crowd pleaser crafted much like a French blend from Cabernet Savignon, Merlot & Shiraz. This full bodied wine has medium tannins and is perfect for enjoying with a quality steak or at a BBQ.
$49 per bottle, IT
Crafted from an amazing producer from Sicily which has recently went organic since 2008. A beautiful blend of Australian loved flavours of Shiraz & Granache. Paolo recommends sampling the older vintages for ultimate enjoyment. The heat in the vineyard where they grow the grapes ripens the fruit beautifully, making the sugar content in the grapes higher therefore more alcohol and more structure throughout the wine.
$29 per bottle, AU
A Pinot Noir style Rose crafted in Geelong in a French style. “Saignee” means ‘bleed’ in French and quite literally this is what they do to the grape. Rather then pressing the grape, they allow it to slowly bleed into the wine, this restricts the amount of tannins and makes the rose easier to drink.
$79 per bottle, IT
This wine translates as “Short France” and is produced in the same way as Champagne in the Traditional Method. The sparkling is left to ferment for a second time in the bottle, producing the bubbles and has a bakery flavour from the fermented yeast.
CUVEE Annamaria Clementi$170 per bottle at Mantecato, IT
For the Sparkling Wine Connoisseur, this wine is produced in the Lombardia region, the 2005 Vintage is on the menu at Mantecato and is perfect for drinking at the beginning of the meal or during appetizers. Perfect for Champagne lovers this wine is the cream of the crop.
Whilst Paolo spoke to us about his favourite wines and how to drink them he began to also tell me about the importance of storing your wine correctly if your investing in quality bottles. Pick yourself up a wine fridge which will keep your bottles at 19 degrees always and for white or sparkling either pop in the fridge a few hours before serving or put on ice one hour before opening for the best results…