|Winemaker Adriano Galli harvesting Sangiovese at the Valturio estate, September 2008|
Back in 2008 when Martin Brady and I embarked upon our adventure into the world of the small, family wine producer we had little idea of what to expect. We had heard stories of bare footed Frenchmen trampling around in giant oak barrels and wondered if all that swirling was really necessary.
What we discovered however was far more intriguing and inspiring than we had ever imagined. Once you learn where to look you realise the wine industry is dotted with fascinating and sometimes bizarre characters, all of whom share a passion for maintaining traditional wine making techniques and something akin to an obsessive desire to create the perfect bottle of wine.
Whether they hail from the sun-kissed hills of Sicily, the foggy bliss of Barolo country or the luscious green of the Tuscan valleys these winemakers and their families work diligently, invariably for little recognition or reward, to produce some of the most splendidly honest and delicious wines imaginable.
Five years on I have decided to launch the Ex Cellar Wine Club (ECWC) which will be dedicated to introducing its members to these fascinating people and places and the wines that they create. Each month I will endeavour to present a new wine, producer or variety to be discovered. We will take a look at wine tasting and evaluation and consider what to expect with particular styles and vintages. I also hope to have the opportunity to introduce members to the producers themselves either at events here in the UK or directly at the vineyards.