Christine Austin looks forward to The Wine Show starring Yorkshire’s very own Joe Fattorini.

“Apparently I was approached to be in The Wine Show because one of the producers saw a clip of me on YouTube, talking about wine while sitting in a bath of Malbec, in Argentina.”
Yorkshire resident Joe Fattorini won’t be repeating that bathtub experience at any time during the 13-week run of The Wine Show, but he will be playing the part of mentor to actors Matthew Goode (Downton Abbey) and Matthew Rhys (The Americans) as they learn about wine.

Based in a stunning Italian villa, the two Matthews are set a new challenge each week to explore different regions of Italy, and bring back wines they have discovered. Meanwhile Joe sets off around the world, visiting wine regions, meeting winemakers and bringing to life some of the stories behind the wines. Another wine expert, Amelia Singer, also traverses the globe, demonstrating just how those grapes get turned into wine.

Joe has had a lifetime’s experience in wine. “I suppose it was a taste of Latour 1945 when I was just 10 years old that really got me into wine. My grandfather opened a bottle one lunchtime and from that point I started to learn about wine. By the time I left school I knew that I wanted to work in the wine business.”

From a school-leaver’s job at the Angel Inn, Hetton, then a spell at the Wright Wine Company in Skipton, followed by 14 years as a wine writer for The Glasgow Herald, Joe has been gathering knowledge and experience in wine. He is now employed by one of the UK’s largest wine distribution companies.

Where The Wine Show differs from most TV programmes about wine is that the expert doesn’t declare that one particular wine is perfect to accompany a particular dish. Instead this series is much more of a journey of discovery. “These are stories about people and places and the wines they produce. It is about the huge variety of flavours that come from different wines, and how the people who make the wine, and the way they make it, are just as important as the particular grape,” said Joe.

In the first episode Joe sets off for South Africa to see the harvesting of grapes for the legendary Vin de Constance. At 4 in the morning, with head torches lighting the way, Joe joins a team of pickers who select the grapes from the vines one by one.

Back in Italy, the two Matthews also get to taste the wine and despite their scepticism about sweet wines, they enjoy the comparison of tastes between Vin de Constance and a Rustenberg Straw Wine.

Other episodes see Joe jet off to Chile where he discovers wine maturing to the sound of Gregorian chant and finds old vines and distinctive flavours. There are stories of the French Resistance in the Loire and a visit to war zone vineyards in Israel. Each programme features a chef who matches wine to their style of cooking, including Frances Atkins from the Yorke Arms in Nidderdale.

“What I like most about the format is that everyone’s opinion is valued. There is no right and wrong,” said Joe. “Matthew Goode is a wine enthusiast with a particular fondness for Barolo, while Matthew Rhys is a newcomer to wine who rapidly learns about grapes and flavours. Both of them have a different approach to wine, but between them they represent a great many wine drinkers, unsure of all the facts about wine, but with a keen interest and delighted to taste and learn.”

The two Matthews don’t just taste wine, they find out just how difficult a vigneron’s life is when they take part in the annual barrel-rolling contest up the streets of Montepulciano.

They also head to the Vatican to meet a priest who needs a new communion wine and in Tuscany they visit the home of Mona Lisa Gheradini, the subject of Da Vinci’s famous portrait.

And while you may not have come across Joe Fattorini before, the surname is really quite famous in these parts. Back in 1827 Italian immigrant Antonio Fattorini settled in Yorkshire where he established a business selling jewellery, watches and barometers. Over time the company became famous for its medals and trophies, even making the famous FA Cup which appeared on Antiques Roadshow only a few weeks ago. Joe remembers the cup, which was valued at over a million pounds, in his living room when he was a child.

“It is decorated with grapes and vines, so it really is the world’s most expensive ice bucket,” he said. Perhaps it was the FA Cup and not a taste of his grandfather’s Latour that helped steer Joe’s career.

The Wine Show airson on April 16 at 5pm on ITV. If you want to taste some of the wines alongside the experts then Amazon/thewineshow will soon provide that opportunity.

About The Author

Christine is a wine writer, broadcaster and a wine judge for several international wine competitions. She has a technical background and spent five years as a buyer for a major supermarket before moving to wine writing.She writes for The Yorkshire Post Magazine and organises the York Festival of Food and Drink. She has won both the Lanson and the Roederer prizes for wine writing.

Let us know what you think