Top 4 wines under AED100 (column 3)

Sommelier Luca Gagliardi - Dubai sommeliers - FooDiva - #FooDivaVino

Meet sommelier Luca Gagliardi

Week by week, I realise I am drinking a lot more wine than usual, for which I can only thank you, my fantastic readers! This third column features three Italian wines (and a sole Australian!). Believe me, it wasn’t intentional, but rather that Italy produces an array of wonderful wines at a very good price point. In fact, here is a super handy map of Italy’s wine regions.

I am very glad that we are receiving plenty of comments on social media, and as with one of these, the more challenging food pairing for a sommelier is with Indian and Asian dishes, so I’ve addressed that today with one of my recommendations. I am lucky to live in a country that showcases a melting pot of cuisines, which is fascinating to match with different world wines. Special thanks as usual to both MMI and A&E for introducing more new wines every year, giving us such a diverse selection on our UAE doorstep, duty free included.

As usual, please note this column contains references to alcohol, and is therefore only for reading if you are of a legal drinking age in your country of residence (in the UAE that’s 21 years) and non-Muslim.

I delight in sharing my pairings with you for four wines under AED100 (including tax), and as always, invite you to recommend your own in the comments section or on social media using the hashtag #FooDivaVino. If you missed them, here are the links to the first and second wine columns.

Here’s our third column – cin cin 🙂

Poachers Semillion-Sauvignon - Wines in UAE - FooDiva - #FooDivaVinoNegroamaro Salento, Masseria Altemura - Wines in UAE - FooDiva - #FooDivaVinoBio-Bio-Chardonnay - Wines in UAE - FooDiva - #FooDivaVinoCol di Sasso Banfi - Wines in UAE - FooDiva - #FooDivaVino

Semillon Sauvignon, St. Hallett Poachers, Australia, 2014 – I am a very big fan of this delicious blend. Individually, the grapes have so much to offer and together they make a heavenly combination. It is a typical white Bordeaux blend replicated in Australia to create an iconic wine thanks to the mix of white ripe fruit from the semillon with herbaceous characteristics of the sauvignon. And because of the high acidity blends, it is perfect for enjoying with food. It is also a great lunchtime wine, paired with a colourful watercress salad of beetroot, asparagus, fetta, spring onions and an olive oil dressing. Last time I drank it was with a gem lettuce salad, brimming with cherry tomatoes, pomegranates, toasted arabic bread and labneh – a very good pairing. AED57 + tax from MMI.

Chardonnay Bio Bio, Italy, 2013 – I came across this wine a couple of years ago while creating a vinobar in Dubai, and straight after tasting it I said to myself, “this is my entry level wine by the glass.” Primarily, the beauty of this wine is that it’s an organic wine. Secondly, it is not your typical chardonnay as it is rounder, lighter in body, low in alcohol and of white fruit base. Lastly, it is very affordable compared to the high prices one would pay for other organic wines. Food wise, keep it simple; a large salad bowl is the perfect pairing. Think Waldorf salad with apples, celery, walnuts and a yoghurt dressing instead of mayo – or a healthy quinoa salad with chicken, peas, avocado and dressed with a mint and chive vinaigrette. AED44 + tax from A&E.

Negroamaro, Masseria Altemura, Italy, 2013 – I shall be as impartial as I can with this Negroamaro, as it comes from the Puglia region in Italy, where I was born. The literal meaning is ‘black-bitter’ due to the nature of the very dark-skinned grapes and its resulting tannin structure, which leave a bitter taste in your mouth. Definitely a wine that is worth much more than its price tag, simply because it comes from one of the most underrated wine regions of Italy. At home in Italia, we match it with grilled horsemeat or donkey stew (oh yes!), but here in Dubai, I would pair it with strong meats such as lamb, mutton or goat – for instance the north Indian speciality rogan josh, or Arabic-style ouzi work well. AED75 + tax from MMI.

Sangiovese Cabernet Sauvignon, ‘Col di Sasso’, Banfi, Italy, 2014 – we all love the super Tuscan wines for their notoriety, but iconic names such as Sassiccaia and Masseto are increasing in popularity by the day and, unsurprisingly, they come at a cost. However Col di Sasso is a fantastic value for money offering, made by the prestigious Banfi estate of Montalcino. Bordeaux Cabernet meets Tuscan Sangiovese in a marriage of youthful, yet concentrated and fruity red wine. Have you ever impressed your partner with a pasta night at home? Do so tonight with spaghetti bolognese (tomatoes and minced red meat) even though, thanks to globalisation, this dish is far from authentic Italian! Other ragu-style sauces pair well. I would impress my wife Sandra with cannelloni or lasagna, all strictly using tomato sauce. AED70 + tax from A&E.

WHO IS LUCA GAGLIARDI? Sommelier by birth, and Michelin-starred trained maître d’, Luca dedicated a decade to the service of world-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay. His CV boasts an impressive list of success stories including Roberto’s, Iris, Solo and now at R Trader as general manager with Dubai’s first authentic speakeasy bar. In his spare time, Luca is in his state-of-the-art home kitchen cooking for friends and discovering new wines, anything but rosé! You can follow him on Twitter at @sommelierdubai or on Instagram at @simonelucagagliardi

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4 Responses to “Top 4 wines under AED100 (column 3)”

  1. Sally - My Custard Pie September 26, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    Bet that’s the first time donkey stew has ever had a mention on a blog in the UAE! Good recommendations.

    • luca gagliardi October 2, 2016 at 10:37 pm

      Thank you Sally, definitely donkeys for a Pugliese is like a camel for an Emirati or a kangaroo for an Australian, every places has its own delicacy.

  2. Dave Reeder September 26, 2016 at 10:02 pm

    Hadn’t realised it was also illegal for Muslims to read about alcohol. That would be like saying nobody could read about murder. One of the biggest treats about now being back in the UK is the sheer range of quality wines available in even the smallest locations. I’m living in a large village/small town and there’s reasonable wine available at the local supermarket, some gems at the local deli and a great selection with a keen to help shop owner at a specialist wine shop. Plus deliveries possible from large supermarket chains within 30 miles and numerous wine merchants across the UK who deliver. Please note, however, that I am rationing myself, rediscovering old favourites I didn’t see in Dubai like Savennieres, Picpoul de Pinet and the like…

    • luca gagliardi October 2, 2016 at 10:34 pm

      Dear Dave, as I’m sure you know Dubai mostly offer large or well known producers, being more than 14 years in this market I have seen drastically changes in their portfolio, however those beautiful old favorite appellations are still not totally available here unless specially ordered by individual restaurants.

I’d love to receive your feedback, so feel free to comment any time.