The intimate and atmospheric Li Veli restaurant and wine bar in London’s Covent Garden offers two new 2014 reds for the autumn gourmet palate.
As much as the seasons change and affect wine’s structure as a result of deterioriation to the soil and climate, so too do they impact on produce. With the chestnut now being in season, Li Veli has harnessed the changes of both, wine and ingredient, by combining a menu which complements the two. Even though last year, with its wet summer leaving the soil drenched, resulting in less alcohol in the wines, we could not complain about the tasting experience.
A rich and earthy chestnut soup, topped with sautéed cardoncelli mushrooms, fried pancetta and a hint of rosemary, came accompanied with the dense and ruby Salento Primitivo Orion, whose marked aromas of ripe and fleshy red fruits nicely underpinned this starter. The name Orion derives from ancient Greek and refers to the fortified road nearby the Puglian vineyards of Masseria Li Veli, which in past times used to be considered the border between the Longobards domains to the north and the Byzantium reign to the south-east. The wine is fresh, soft and persistent.
This warming combination was followed by a robust, nutty oricchetti dish rounded by a ricotta mousse, which came with marked aromas of ripe and fleshy red fruits of the Passamante Salice Salentino. Passamante is the name of a wood stretching along Masseria Li Veli’s Negroamaro bush-trained vineyards. It takes its name from the Latin ‘Pass-amantes’, reminding us that, in the past, lovers (amantes) used to hide in that little wood. Its vegetation, consisting of pine trees, broome, oak, carob, myrtle and juniper gives off that special scent of Mediterrenian maquis, perfectly in harmony with the organoleptic properties of the wine.
The desert came as a vermicelli atop a smooth and unctuous vanilla semifreddo, which left us completely satisfied. All in all, we could not wish more from a tasty meal and wonderful wines ably served by the generous restaurant owner Alfredo Falvo. With the current murky evenings taking hold, the Li Veli restaurant with its newly launched products is a perfect retreat to warm your body and soul. Maybe last year wasn’t such a bad one after all.
Paul Stewart and NoéMie Schwaller