We are loving everything about the concept of Arthouse Wine
a new Somerset-based online business specialising in boutique Italian wines from small organic producers but with beautiful hand-designed labels (that’s the Arthouse bit).
Set up by self-proclaimed Italophiles the Hourigan family, Arthouse Wine aims to introduce a younger generation to interesting new wines which are delicious but affordable (bottles between £10 and £20) and with labels which will definitely be a talking point.
Maura Hourigan believes the Italian saying ‘the eye always has its place,’ sums up the inspiration behind the new site.
‘We wanted to get away from the unromantic bin-end wine buying where each bottle has a number and also from the red trouser brigade who only know the Barolos and Chiantis and like their wine to come with the crest of a prestigious Italian family.’
Instead the Hourigans sought out small, purist producers across Italy like Darios Coos, whose family have been producing wine from the hillslopes of Ramadolo (North East Italy) for five generations. The vineyards are on such steep terraced slopes that all grapes must be picked the old fashioned way by hand. The Refoscu is its signature red ‘fruit-driven with hints of wild blackberry and cherry on the nose, with floral often herbaceous notes and a dried fruit finish. This wine is just about every food’s best friend.’
So read the tasting notes along with a lovely little bio about the Coos family.
What I love about the website (designed by Maura’s sister Clare, it’s very much a family affair) is that you get the back story of these artisan producers and it’s wonderfully evocative stuff. You’ll hear about it the Giusti & Zanza vineyard which names all its wines after characters from an Italian opera L’Elisir d’Amore (the elixir of love) and designs their labels to match the characters. Or the Nunzi Conti family who own the Villa Barberino estate and began their wine adventure back in the 1880s when Gualtiero Nunzi left his tiny mountain village to seek his fortune in Florence. He succeeded and bought a small vineyard in the heart of Chianti Classico country. Spend a few minutes browsing on Arthouse Wine and you'll want to pack up straight away, move to Italy and run an organic vineyard. But at least we can drink the stuff and live the dream that way.
Arthouse wines, chosen by Maura’s son Dario who lives in Italy (and we assume actually does live the dream) and travels across the country meeting small independent wine producers, are aimed specifically at a younger generation keen to learn more about lesser known wines and buy good looking bottles at the same time (with labels like this it’s tempting to bring back the age-old student tradition of stuffing candles into your empties).
For the health conscious it's also worth noting that all wines are organic, one is even sulphate free and most have a lower alcohol content (around 12%) than you find in supermarket wines.
Pictured below Chianti Classico
Their best-selling wine is the Lucciole, (Ron Dennis, boss of McLaren recently served it at a party), a beautiful pale, sparkling rosé with fewer bubbles than your average sparkling wine.
Maura says it is the exact opposite of prosecco “which can be gut-wrenching after a few glasses.’
Recently Dario was served Lucciole in a coupé glass (of course) with a leaf of basil floating on top so now this is how Maura drinks it.
“It’s a wonderful pale powder pink colour and with the basil it is Italy in a glass.,’ Maura says.
Something for the weekend, we’d say. More info from Arthouse Wine